The Crime of Monsieur Lange

Archival Presentations | 1936 | 83 minutes

Stranger Says:

The 1930s were good to French director Jean Renoir. In that decade, which was between the world-historical stock-market crash and the war that would break Europe’s back, Renoir directed two classics of cinema: The Rules of the Game and Grand Illusion. The year before the former was completed, 1936, Renoir directed a very lovely comedy about Parisian pulp writers, a capitalist publisher (and sex predator), and a socialist project (a cooperative of pulp writers) that seemed promising. The photography in The Crime of Monsieur Lange is often mesmerizing, and when Renoir’s characters walk down a street, or into a room, or up a staircase, they move with the lightness and sway of dancers.

SIFF Says:

Amadee Lange (René Lefèvre, the every-man hero of René Clair’s 1931 musical comedy LE MILLION) is a naïve daydreamer in love with pulp westerns, and the author of the corny but incredibly popular “Arizona Jim” serial stories. His unscrupulous publisher, Batala (a sublimely slimy Jules Berry), is making a fortune off of them, but keeps that his own little secret. He is also getting a fat fee to insert frequent mention of Ranimax pills into the stories as the hero’s favorite supplement. When Batala flees with his ill-gotten gains and is presumed dead, leaving the publishing house bankrupt, the workers decide to join together in a commune to save their jobs and keep the business going. But can their good fortune last? Demonstrating Jean Renoir’s trademark warmth and humanity, THE CRIME OF MONSIEUR LANGE is also one of his funniest films, full of charm and optimism, despite the title crime (murder). The only collaboration between Renoir and Jacques Prévert, the famed screenwriter of LE JOUR SE LÈVE (1939) and CHILDREN OF PARADISE (1945), the film salutes the ideals of the leftist Popular Front, then at its height. Unjustly one of Renoir’s lesser-known films, THE CRIME OF MONSIEUR LANGE (1936) was made just before his masterpieces GRAND ILLUSION (1937), LA BÊTE HUMAINE (1938), and THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939), and deserves to stand in their company. Shown in a beautiful new digital restoration.

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Film Credits
Jean Renoir
René LefèvreFlorelle, Jules Berry, Marcel Lévesque, Odette Talazac, Henri Guisol
SIFF 2018