“If my husband were out of the way, we could put our troubles behind us.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary notes that this “fatalistic, moodily photographed murder drama undoubtedly influenced American film noir, thematically and visually” — though interestingly, Simon’s character is presented from the beginning as the sympathetic victim of not only an abusive husband but a traumatic past, and her willingness to manipulate Gabin only gradually emerges. With that said, Peary argues that “the way femme fatale Simon uses sex to take control of Gabin — to make him act stupidly so he’ll fall into a trap — reminds [him] of how Kathleen Turner handles William Hurt in Body Heat,” and that’s one possible way to interpret things here.
Regardless, we’re kept genuinely in suspense throughout, wondering what moves each individual will make next given that none of them — Gabin, Simon, or Ledoux — is predictable. Renoir makes excellent use of real-life railroad locales, and the investment he made in encouraging Gabin to learn how to actually conduct a train shows up in the film’s overall air of authenticity:
Watch for Renoir himself in a cameo role as the unfortunate passenger who ends up wrongfully taking the blame for Berlioz’s death:
Remade by Fritz Lang in 1954 as Human Desire, which is equally worthy viewing.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: