Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) Review

Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) Director: Jean Renoir


Boudu Saved From Drowning is a strange but amusing film -a more lighthearted social satire a la The Last Laugh. It is a good film worth seeing as part of a film project, though not absolutely essential. Some Renoir films are absolutely stunning like The Grand Illusion or A Day in the Country, while others are more challenging for me.

The plot to this obscure film, Boudu Saved From Drowning, is taken from a French play, however it was revised and rewritten by Renoir. It tells the story of Boudu, a flaneur on the streets of Paris, who is wandering through the park begging for money. Many are frightened away by his large beard and unkempt attire. Meanwhile a bookseller is speaking with his family and he looks out his open window with a binocular. He spots Boudu climbing over a bridge about to fall into the water in an apparent suicide attempt. The bookseller rushes down to the water to rescue Boudu amidst a crowd of onlookers. Boudu recovers at the booksellers house and they decide to try to convert him into a gentleman. Slowly they teach him proper mannerisms and give him a shave. At first he causes chaos in the house until he starts to believe in himself as a gentleman and possible bookseller partner. Boudu also wins 100,000 francs in the lottery. He and the maid fall in love and are to be married, even though the bookseller was carrying on with maid initially. As they are slowly drifting in a boat as part of their wedding party, Boudu reaches off to the side of the boat to grab a flower lily nearby. In doing so, he tips the boat over and everyone falls into the river. However, Boudu swims away further down the river and he steals the clothes off a scarecrow to return to his hobo life before nearly drowning in the Seine.

Image result for boudu saved from drowning

Michael Simon plays the memorable Boudu character in this social satire that is often considered a comedy about the limits of liberalism, or altruism.

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