Jean Renoir’s small-scale ‘rites of spring’ [from the play by Rene Fauchois] has Michel Simon, as Boudu, saved from drowning in the Seine (where he has flung himself, despondent over the loss of his dog). A filthy, surly, ungrateful tramp, taken into the household of his rescuer (Charles Grandval), he nearly wrecks the house and lives of his benefactors. After seducing the wife (Marcelle Hainia), he wins a large amount of money in a lottery, marries the opportunistic maid (Severine Lerczynska) but at the last minute rebels.
Renoir manages to get in a few blows at the smugness of the middle-class French, the ambivalent attitudes towards sexual morality, and the less-than-heroic actions of the average human being. Technically, the film is excellent. Jacques Becker, Renoir’s assistant [director] on the film, also acts a brief vignette as a kooky poet.
[Pic was reviewed on first US release, in 1967.]