Wexner Center for the Arts

Grand Illusion + Boudu Saved from Drowning


“Funny, heart-wrenching, nail-biting, caustic, and profound.”—Time Out New York (on Grand Illusion)

This double bill pairs two of Jean Renoir’s great humanistic films of the 1930s.

Renoir’s antiwar classic Grand Illusion explores the nature of class and national loyalties in an escape-proof World War I POW camp. Erich von Stroheim plays the aristocratic German officer in charge, with Pierre Fresnay and Jean Gabin as captured French officers, one equally aristocratic and the other from the working class. The Nazis hated this sensitive and astute film, which is one of the first “prison break” movies, and declared it “cinema enemy number one.” (117 mins., 4K DCP, in French with English subtitles.)

Michel Simon stars in the pointed farce Boudu Saved from Drowning as a vagrant who is taken in by the bourgeois bookseller who pulled him out of the Seine and then turns the household upside-down while seducing his rescuer’s wife and mistress. Renoir filmed many scenes along the quays of Paris. Updated and loosely remade by Paul Mazursky as Down and Out in Beverly Hills in 1986 (with Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, and Richard Dreyfuss). (87 mins., DCP, in French with English subtitles.)