Le Crime de Monsieur Lange
René Lefèvre, Florelle, Jules Berry
By French master Jean Renoir, Le Crime de Monsieur Lange encapsulates the political feeling of its time. Made in 1936 (the year before 1937’s La Grande Illusion) it’s imbued with the spirit of the left-wing alliance that led to the election of a Popular Front government led by Léon Blum, soon to become a staunch opponent of Vichy France.
Renoir’s frank, hearty drama depicts the crime of its title, an act of revolutionary violence by workers against their predatory, if likeable boss (Jules Berry). René Lefèvre is the mild-mannered clerk with pulp fiction ambitions, who gets his chance when Batala (Berry) fakes his own death and the abandoned workers form a cooperative.
Enjoying professional success, Lange also falls in love; but he is driven to commit a serious crime when Batala returns ‘from the dead’.