Boudu Saved From Drowning

It is a rare and wonderful thing when something makes me laugh so hard that I cry.

Recently it happened while watching the Colbert Report. Mr. Colbert was ostensibly getting etiquette lessons from a fellow who is apparently a Professional Proper Englishman. Colbert is utterly unconstrained: he has no rules to follow. He eats sugar by the spoonful, lets a cupful of cream slide down his chin. The Englishman is defined by rules. He is outraged, perhaps even angry, but he can hardly show it. He can only murmur ‘No, you musn’t’. And the more he protests, the more outrageous Colbert’s behavior becomes, spurned on by his foil.

The scene very much reminded me of the Jean Renoir movie that made me laugh just as hard, Boudu Saved from Drowning (Boudu sauvé des eaux). A homeless man is ‘saved’ by a middle class family, and what ensues is a great deal like Colbert and the Professional Proper. Boudu spits out his beer, he wipes chocolate on the duvet. He does not follow the rules, and it is enormously funny.

If you think that a movie made in 1932 is too darn old, or you're not a fan of subtitles, check out this YouTube trailer and reconsider. The Criterion print is lovely, and the film is a true treat.