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The Crime of Monsieur Lange

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Crime of Monsieur Lange
Directed byJean Renoir
Screenplay byJacques Prévert
Story byJean Renoir
Jean Castanier
Produced byAndré Halley des Fontaines
Jean Renoir
StarringRené Lefèvre
Jules Berry
Marcel Lévesque
Sylvia Bataille
Nadia Sibirskaïa
CinematographyJean Bachelet
Edited byMarthe Huguet
Marguerite Renoir
Music byJoseph Kosma
Jean Wiener
Films Obéron
Distributed byWarner Brothers
Release date
24 January 1936
Running time
80 minutes

The Crime of Monsieur Lange (pronounced [mə.sjølɑ̃ʒ]; French: Le Crime de Monsieur Lange) is a 1936 French drama film directed by Jean Renoir about a publishing cooperative. Imbued with the spirit of the communist/socialist Popular Front, which would score a major political victory in 1936, the film is an idyllic picture of a socialist France and is both a social commentary and a romance. It was shot at the Billancourt Studios in Paris. The film's sets were designed by the art director Robert Gys. It was distributed by the French subsidiary of Warner Brothers.[1]

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M. Lange is a mild-mannered writer of Western stories for a publishing company. Batala, the salacious owner of the company, flees his creditors. When his train crashes, he takes the opportunity to fake his own death. The abandoned workers, with the help of an eccentric creditor, form a cooperative. They have great success with Lange's stories about the cowboy, Arizona Jim, whose stories parallel the real-life experiences of the cooperative. At the same time, Lange and his neighbor Valentine, an old flame of Batala's, fall in love.

When Batala resurfaces, intending to reclaim the publishing company, Lange shoots and kills him to protect the cooperative. Lange and Valentine flee the country, stopping at an inn near the Belgian frontier where Valentine tells Lange's story to a group of the inn's patrons who had recognized Lange as the murderer on the run and threatened to alert the police. After hearing the story, the men sympathize with Lange and Valentine and allow them to escape across the border to freedom.



Renoir considered the film a collaboration with the agitprop theatre company the October Group. It was based on an original idea by Renoir and Jean Castanier titled Sur la cour (French: Sur la cour, lit.'on the courtyard'). Poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert wrote the script.[2] The shooting lasted 25 days[3] from October to November 1935 and took place at Le Tréport and in the Paris studios of Billancourt.[citation needed] It was during the shooting of the film that Paul Éluard introduced Pablo Picasso to Dora Maar, who served as set photographer for the production.[4]


In his autobiography, Renoir claimed that the great success of The Crime of Monsieur Lange in France caused him to become strongly associated with the extreme political left wing. French communists asked him to produce overt propaganda films denouncing fascism, and he readily complied with the communists' demands, stating: "I believed that every honest man owed it to himself to resist Nazism. I am a filmmaker, and this is the only way in which I could play a part in the battle."[5] Renoir's left-wing propaganda films of the mid-1930s, including The Crime of Monsieur Lange, along with his writings for various newspapers, placed him in danger when France entered World War II. Renoir's American friends, particularly the filmmaker Robert Flaherty, urged him to obtain a visa from the American consulate in Nice so that he may flee to the United States. He decided to do so after he claimed that Nazis had requested that he make films sympathetic to their cause.[6]

Roger Leenhardt of Espirit called the film "all the more remarkable in that the work owes its witty style to the harmony of… two unshakably original temperaments… Prévert contributed his vivacity and mordant humor, and Renoir the resonance of his true romanticism."[7] Peter Harcourt said that it was "in a sense the most intelligent film… Renoir ever made."[8] François Truffaut wrote that "Mr. Lange is of all Renoir's films, the most spontaneous, the most dense set of miracles and camera, the busiest of truth and pure beauty, a film we would say touched by grace."[9]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Wakeman, John. World Film Directors, Volume 1. The H. W. Wilson Company. 1987, p. 929.
  3. ^ Renoir. p. 200.
  4. ^ Mary Ann Caws, Les Vies de Dora Maar, Paris, Thames & Hudson, 2000, p. 54, (ISBN 978-2-87811-185-9).
  5. ^ Renoir, p. 125.
  6. ^ Renoir, p. 182
  7. ^ Wakeman. p. 929.
  8. ^ Wakeman. p. 930.
  9. ^ Auzel, Dominique (1990). François Truffaut: les mille et une nuits américaines (in French). p. 235. Retrieved 25 February 2022.


Renoir, Jean. My Life and My Films, New York: Da Capo Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0306804571

External links

This page was last edited on 28 November 2023, at 13:13
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