The Crime of Monsieur Lange
Film - Feature | January 21 | 2 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Of all Renoirs films, M. Lange is the most spontaneous, the richest in miracles of camerawork, the most full of pure beauty and truth. In short, it is a film touched by divine grace (François Truffaut). After a venal, sexually predatory publisher (Jules Berry) disappears, his employees decide to collectivize, building community and commercial success around the pulp Western stories of nebbishy dreamer Amédée Lange (René Lefèvre). When love and livelihood are threatened, mild Monsieur Lange defends them by any means necessary. I found myself engagé without having meant to be, Renoir said of his leftist allegiances in the 1930s; his film similarly engages us lightly but sincerely, finding a kind of Popular Front utopia in a shabby courtyard alive with neighborly banter, flirtation, and song. This restoration showcases Jean Bachelets startlingly agile camerawork, and new subtitles capture the tumbling wit of the script, cowritten by Jacques Prévert.