Boudu Saved from Drowning
Boudu sauvé des eaux
B&W, 35mm projection source (courtesy of Institut Francais)
Michel Simon gives one of the most memorable performances in screen history as Boudu, a Parisian tramp who takes a suicidal plunge into the Seine and is rescued by a well-to-do bookseller, Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval). The Lestingois family decides to take in the irrepressible bum, and he shows his gratitude by shaking the household to its foundations. With “Boudu Saved from Drowning,” legendary director Jean Renoir (“The Rules of the Game,” “Grand Illusion”) takes advantage of a host of Parisian locations and the anarchic charms of his lead actor to create an effervescent satire of the bourgeoisie.
London’s Telegraph observes: “It’s hard to imagine cinema without ‘Boudu Saved from Drowning.’ Released in 1932, it’s equal parts farce, social satire and existential drama — and one of Jean Renoir’s most enduring works, at once delightful and troubling. Its story — a suicidal tramp is taken in by a do-gooding middle-class home only for him to wreak havoc — explores some of the same territory as Tom Wolfe in his essay “Radical Chic.” It also formed the basis of Paul Mazursky’s ‘Down and Out In Beverly Hills’ (1986).... ‘Boudu Saved from Drowning’ is blessed by fluid camerawork, beautiful cinematography and riverine rhythms. Simon gives a towering and infinitely merry performance. But it’s the film’s philosophical implications that have fascinated generations of moviegoers.”
With an introduction and post-film discussion by Jean-Louis Pautrot, professor of French and international studies at Saint Louis University.