#64 Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932)

So what happens when a poor tramp collides with bourgeois society? Chaos in a comical tone ensues. Critically acclaimed French director Jean Renoir‘s film Boudu Saved From Drowning is when a rich man saves a poor tramp from his suicide attempt off a bridge and tries to reform him to blend in with the elegant and rich. Think of it kind of like a twisted My Fair Lady.

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When we first see Boudu, he wears worn-out clothes and has a long, scruffy beard. He’s bourgeois society’s worst nightmare! He’s loud, rude, and doesn’t keep his dirty thoughts to himself. He hits on all of the women in the household and some probably won’t be able to blame him considering he’s only been kissed by a dog. He literally spits on the social rules that follow being a member of the rich and elegant despite the fact that one of its members of society saved his life. This film may be a farce on the poor and the rich but it doesn’t seem like Renoir is judging the rich for being the way they are. It looks as if it’s a matter of being able to take a man out of the poor life but you can’t take the poor life out of the man. No matter what, this tramp doesn’t forget who he is.

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The one problem that I had with the film was that there was an implied rape scene that I feel got ignored. Like it was no big deal and everyone just forgot about it as if it’s completely natural. Did that part disturb you as much as it disturbed me? The water played an important part in the film where the stream of water shapes the destiny of the tramp whether he ends up with the rich or back where he came from. There were many beautiful shots of the water as the sunlight hits it as well as many long takes and on location sets to make the film look as natural as possible.

Watch Jean Renoir’s classic and comment what you think:

#63 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Ever heard of a chain gang? You know, that old-school form of punishment where prisoners are chained together to perform hard labor? Well, thanks to this movie, this real-life menial prison sentence collapsed. Based on the memoirs of Robert E. Burns, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is when an aspiring engineer is unjustly accused of robbery and sentenced to a chain gang but escapes and realizes that once you’re charged of a crime, freedom is not as obtainable as you think.

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Watching this film gave me a Shawshank Redemption feel where you see an innocent man unjustly sentenced and looking for ways of escape. It wasn’t every day that you saw films in those days protesting and raising awareness of cruel methods of society. We saw prison guards showing no mercy and the violence prisoners face. Considering this film was a success critically and financially, it definitely made an impact with its audience and helped save Warner Brothers from financial ruin. I found this film ironic how the character of James Allen was never a criminal to begin with but became one the minute he escaped prison and has to live his new life going forward as a criminal. What would you do if you were in James’s situation- serve your unfair sentence or escape?

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Without spoiling anything for those who haven’t seen it, I can now understand why that ending is considered one of the best cinematic closing scenes as James slowly backs into the darkness and can only use our imaginations to what is to become of him. Warner Brothers was also very smart not to say where the film takes place even though it would be completely obvious to those who are familiar with its history. Still didn’t stop the state of…dare I say…GEORGIA… from suing the film. If you love prison films, meet the grandfather of them.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a copy on YouTube but I know you can rent it there for $2.99. Here’s the trailer and let me know what you think:

 

#62 Vampyr (1932)

So we’ve seen about two movies on this list that are about vampires. Introducing vampire movie number three done by Carl Theodor Dreyer, filmmaker of The Passions of Joan of Arc. This fantasy-horror film, Vampyr, is about a fan of the supernatural becomes involved in a situation where a young girl horrifically becomes a vampire.

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Ever had a nightmare before? Whether you were a child or even as an adult today? You know, like when you see that scary movie that your parents or your conscious told you it wasn’t a good idea to see but saw it anyways. Well, I’m sure that nightmare looked similar what you see in this film. Ghostly images, shadows moving on their own, the grim reaper, a vampire’s lust for your blood, and the scariest image- being buried alive! Believe it or not, that dream-like sequences was done by putting a gauze over the lens to make that foggy tint. These images appear in a montage of sorts in a random yet stylish fashion just like the way dreams work. This is also a good film to see if you know slim to nothing about vampires (don’t rely on Twilight!) or would just like more information. You realize that there’s more than just simply biting people for their blood for them to be horrifying.

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Vampyr used mostly non-actors to be in this film that he ran into in shops and cafes. One was a French widow, another was a journalist, and another was a model. Julian West who played Allan Grey was so loaded being from being of Russian nobility that he agreed to finance the film as long as he was the lead. Well, that’s one way to snag a lead role! Do you believe these actors played their roles with justice or Dreyer should have just gotten professional actors?  For all horror film fans- I bring you your next film to see.

Watch this German-French horror film and let me know what you think: