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The Crime of M. Lange
(Le Crime de Monsieur Lange)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Renoir.
With René Lefévre, Jules Berry, Florelle.
France, 1936, 35mm, black & white, 84 min.
French with English subtitles.
Print source: Institut Français

If 1935’s Toni restored Renoir’s critical reputation, which had previously crested with 1931’s La Chienne, The Crime of M. Lange brought the director forever to the front ranks of French filmmakers. Its tale of the employees of a small publisher banding together against the corruption of their boss captures the climate of 1936 France, as the Popular Front, a leftist coalition of political parties, labor unions and cultural organizations, was preparing to (briefly) take power. This film began Renoir’s socially and politically engaged work of the late 1930s, but this reductive take on the film does little to communicate the charm and liveliness that embraces not only the villainous boss and the title character, one of the press’s authors, but the community that surrounds them. Unusually, Renoir seems to have changed very little the screenplay by the great Jacques Prévert, the only time the two worked together, just before Prévert’s renowned collaborations with Marcel Carné.

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