Boudu Saved From Drowning
When bookseller Lestingois (Charles Granval) dives into the Seine to rescue a tramp (Michel Simon) and takes him into his home, his good deed is swiftly punished in Boudu Saved from Drowning, a buoyant yet discomfiting satire on bourgeois Parisians. The restoration isn’t pristine, and Jean Renoir’s direction feels loose, but he structures the story solidly, as a classical battle between Apollo and Bacchus — order and chaos. Simon pulls out all the stops as the imbecilic bête noire, grumbling at kindnesses, foiling his savior’s trysts with the maid, and assaulting the French soul (”He spat on Balzac!” cries a pained Lestingois).
EXTRAS Various critical appraisals, from director Eric Rohmer and others; in a 1967 reminiscence, Renoir and Simon recall that police shut down the film for three days because of audience outrage over Boudu eating with his hands — though not because he seduces Lestingois’ wife. As Renoir explains, ”That wasn’t shocking!”