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Film / Boudu Saved from Drowning

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Boudu Saved from Drowning (Fr: Boudu sauvé des eaux) is a 1932 comic farce from France directed by Jean Renoir.

Boudu (Michel Simon) is a scruffy, ragged bum, sleeping in a park by the Seine in Paris. When his dog runs away one day Boudu seems to decide he's had enough of life, and jumps into the river from a pedestrian bridge. While doing so he is spotted by one Edouard Lestingois (Charles Granval), a bookseller with a shop and apartment right across the street. Lestingois dives into the river, fishes out Boudu, and revives him.

Whether out of real generosity or because he thinks it's The Right Thing To Do, Lestingois invites Boudu to stay with the family, which consists of his wife Emma (Marcelle Hainia) and their maid Chloe (Sévérine Lerczinska), who also happens to be Edouard's mistress. Boudu behaves just as one might expect a tramp to do— namely, like a crude, ill-mannered slob. He spits out wine when he doesn't like it, he wipes his shoes with satin sheets, he drinks to excess, he makes crude sexual advances on Emma and Chloe. Edouard can't deal with such a force of nature, while both Emma and Chloe prove surprisingly receptive to those crude sexual advances.

This film was a loose inspiration for the Japanese film Spring Dreams, and was later more faithfully remade in America as Down and Out in Beverly Hills.


  • Adopted to the House: Edouard takes Boudu in to live. His wife isn't happy at all about it and eventually Edouard grows tired of his guest, but everything works out in the end.
  • Barefoot Poverty: When shucking off his tuxedo for a scarecrow's clothes, Boudu makes a point of kicking off his shoes and going barefoot.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: It's evident that this is going on between Boudu and Emma by the point that he's poking her chest and saying "what's in there" while she's angrily berating him. Sex follows.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Pretty easy to guess that the multiple references to the lottery tickets Boudu bought will be important.
  • Exact Words: Boudu and Chloe are flirting. He wants a kiss; she says she'll kiss him if he cuts his beard. He grabs some scissors, slices a hunk of hair out of his beard, and tries to kiss her.
    Boudu: She said she'd kiss me if I cut it.
  • Gold Digger: Chloe, who appears to really love Edouard and has fended off Boudu's advances throughout the movie, instantly embraces Boudu after she finds out that he's won 100,000 francs in the lottery.
  • Male Gaze: Edouard uses his telescope to watch pretty girls walking by in the street. This is what he's doing when he sees Boudu jump into the river.
  • The Mistress: Chloe is Edouard's. She complains when the presence of Boudu leads Edouard to stop visiting her for sex at night.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: The whole party is going on an old-fashioned rowboat ride after Boudu and Chloe get married. Boudu then flips the boat over—accidentally, but after it happens he seizes the chance to escape.
  • Organ Grinder: An organ grinder playing in the street seems to put Emma in a sentimental mood right before Boudu seduces her.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The camera pans away to a picture of a trumpeter as Boudu and Emma have sex.
  • Significant Name: The wedding near the end reveals that Boudu, who is basically an avatar of unrestrained masculinity, has as a first name "Priapus".
  • Source Music: All the music is diegetic. When Renoir wants a flute theme to play over shots of the family at home, we see a flutist in the next house playing; when he wants trumpets for the scene where Boudu is having sex with Emma, a marching band passes by.
  • Threesome Subtext: All's well that ends well for Edouard at the end of the movie, as we see him cuddling up with Emma and Chloe, one woman under each arm, after they've clambered up onto the riverbank following the spill form the boat.
  • The Tramp: Boudu, who seems to like being a smelly, dirty tramp, if the last scene is any indication.
  • Walking the Earth: Boudu's fate, after the overturned rowboat allows him to escape the middle-class boredom represented by his hosts.