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The Lower Depths (1936 film)

The Lower Depths
File:Les bas fonds.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean Renoir
Produced by Alexandre Kamenka
Written by Screenplay:
Yevgeni Zamyatin
Jacques Companéez
Jean Renoir
Charles Spaak
Maxim Gorky
Starring Jean Gabin
Suzy Prim
Louis Jouvet
Music by Jean Wiener
Cinematography Fédote Bourgasoff
Edited by Marguerite Renoir
Films Albatros
Distributed by Gaumont-Franco Film-Aubert
Release dates
11 December 1936 (France)
10 September 1937 (US)
Running time
95 minutes
Country France
Language French

The Lower Depths (French: Les Bas-fonds) is a 1936 French drama film directed by Jean Renoir, based on a play of the same title by Maxim Gorky. Its scenes contrast the life of the upper and lower classes to comedic effect.

A wealthy baron (Jouvet) becomes bankrupt through gambling. Contemplating suicide, he finds his gun missing and confronts the thief Pépel (Gabin) who plans to rob him. Instead they share "a drink between colleagues" in a scene played as light comedy and become friends. The baron allows Pépel to leave with a bronze sculpture. Creditors seize the baron's household furnishings. The Baron tells his servant Félix that he hopes all that Félix has stolen from his will cover his unpaid wages, to which Félix agrees. Pépel is arrested for stealing the bronze. Pépel jokes with the police until the baron arrives to identify him as a "dear friend". The story shifts to life in the slums, where men argue at cards. They mock a woman who reads romantic tales, and many individuals have brief character portraits.

The film is an example of the poetic realism. It received the first Louis Delluc Prize in 1937.


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