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Jean Renoir's generous sensibility seems at odds with the sterile determinism of the Zola novel on which this 1938 film was based. Jean Gabin is an epileptic train engineer drawn to the stationmaster's young wife (Simone Simon). The couple murders a man who tried to seduce her; Gabin witnesses the killing and begins an ambiguous emotional blackmail. Fritz Lang remade this film in 1954 as Human Desire, and as with Lang's other Renoir remake (Scarlet Street, from La Chienne), the material was better served by Lang's Germanic obsession with destiny. But there is much of Renoir here, most beautifully in the opening scene with Gabin at the controls of his train, rushing through the countryside and into the city. In French with subtitles. 99 min.

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