Director: René Clément

Year: 1956

Plot: A poor laundrywoman tries to cope with a depressing burden of society.
Original Title: Gervaise
Director: René Clément
Writer: Émile Zola , Jean Aurenche , Pierre Bost
Producer: Agnès Delahaie
Type: movie
Year: 1956
Genres: Drama
Cast: Francoise Hery , Michèle Caillaud , Marie France Brette , Maria Schell , François Périer , Jany Holt , Mathilde Casadesus , Florelle , Micheline Luccioni , Lucien Hubert , Jacques Harden , Jacques Hilling , Amédée , Hubert de Lapparent , Hélène Tossy , Rachel Devirys , Jacqueline Morane , Yvonne Claudie , Georges Paulais , Gérard Darrieu , Pierre Duverger , Marcelle Féry , Armand Mestral , Suzy Delair , Jacques Bertrand , Pascal Bressy , Rita Cadillac , Patrice Catineau , Yvette Cuvelier , Roger Dalphin , Yvonne Dany , Jean Daurand , Christian Denhez , Simone Duhart , Max Elbeze , Christian Férez , Jean Gautrat , Chantal Gozzi , Ariane Lancell , Palmyre Levasseur , Armand Lurville , Jo Peignot , Paul Préboist , Denise Péronne , Jean Relet , Gilbert Sanjakian , Aram Stephan , André Wasley
Runtimes: 112
Countries: France
Languages: French
Color Info: Black and White
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Sound Mix: Mono
Original Air Date: 03 Aug 1956 (West Germany)
Rating: 7.4
Votes: 1625
Year: 1956
Akas: 목로주점 (South Korea) , Ansa (Finland) , I taverna (Greece) , Patkányfogó (Hungary) , Gervaise - A Flor do Lodo (Brazil)
Production Companies: Les Films Corona , Agnes Delahaie Productions , Silver Films , Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique (CICC) , Cino del Duca
Distributors: Les Films Corona , Miracle Films , Columbia Film-Verleih , Kamerafilm , NV Meteor Film , Columbia Film , Columbia Film-Verleih , Continental Distributing , VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb , Netflix , The Criterion Collection , World Vision International
Synopsis: This film by the director René Clément was adapted from a novel, "L'Assommoir," by the celebrated French writer, Emil Zola. It examines the working class life in 1860s France, including its problem with alcohol abuse that transcends time and culture. Unfortunately, its distribution in the United States seems to have been rather limited, which is most regrettable because of the film's historical and social significance, excellent production, and outstanding cast.Like a Greek tragedy, "Gervaise" is a tale of inevitable destruction. The heroine, Gervaise (Maria Schell), is a Parisian working-class woman during the Second Empire (1860s) who attempts to improve her social status. Her efforts are doomed, however, by a couple of selfish alcoholics-- her first lover Lantier (Armand Mestral), and her husband Coupeau (Francois Perier). The fascination of the character of Gervaise is her courage against all odds and the tragedy of her inevitable downfall and destruction, given the social dictates of the era.1852. Gervaise's lover of eight years, the disreputable Lantier, abandons her and their two children. She learns of his departure at the central laundry where she is busy washing clothes. Gervaise is a "blanchisseuse," a laundress. Virginie (Suzy Delair), a friend of Lantier, taunts her, humiliating her in front of the other workers. This in turn, provokes a spectacular brawl, which results in a no less spectacular smacking of Virginie's derrière with a washerwoman's battledore.In order to raise the children, Gervaise decides to go it alone, but soon she realizes it is not possible and she marries Coupeau, a roofer by profession, a serious, good-humored fellow. Soon after their marriage, a third child, Nana, is born. Gervaise's dream is to establish herself in her own laundry shop, and she starts saving her wages for that purpose, until Coupeau falls from a roof. Gervaise refuses to send him to the hospital, preferring to tend to him herself at home. In so doing, she spends her savings to the last penny to nurse him back to health. For Coupeau, now somewhat crippled and embittered, this is the beginning of the end, a slow but inexorable descent into alcoholism.After some reservations, Gervaise accepts a loan from Goujet (Jacques Harden), a blacksmith and her husband's friend, and acquires her own laundry shop. Everything is going well, until Virginie, now married to Mr. Poisson (Lucien Hubert), a gendarmerie sergeant, settles again in the neighborhood. She schemes revenge for her earlier humiliation against Gervaise, using Lantier, who has also reappeared on the scene.Gervaise, surrounded by all of her friends, is having her birthday dinner in her shop. Lantier is loitering about just outside the shop, waiting for an opportunity to crash the party. This chance arrives when Coupeau, drunk as usual, invites Lantier to come in and join the dinner, and extends to him hospitality for the night in his small lodging at the rear of the shop. Soon, to Gervaise's despair, Lantier becomes a permanent fixture. Gervaise cannot turn for help to Goujet, who has since been thrown in jail for leading a workers' strike. The inevitable happens: Lantier, taking advantage of one of Coupeau's drunken episodes, drags Gervaise into his room and forces himself on her. Goujet, now out of jail returns to meet Gervaise, but suspecting that she is involved in some kind of "ménage a trois," is so disappointed, he leaves for the north region of France, taking along Gervaise's oldest son, Etienne, to be an apprentice.From there on, Gervaise has nowhere to turn for help, and loses all hope. She has become the slave of two drunks who steal her money and live at her expense. Her shop is going down the drain, and her employees abandon her, one after another. Coupeau's health worsens. Lantier thinks this is the opportune moment to suggest she sell her laundry. It just so happens he has a prospective buyer, in the person of Virginie. At last, Gervaise realizes the deviousness of Virginie and of her accomplice, and chases them out.Coupeau, during a violent episode of "delirium tremens," wrecks the shop, after which he is taken to the hospital, where he dies. Virginie then takes possession of the ruined laundry and reopens it as a confectionery, while Lantier re-settles in the back of the shop, as the gigolo he has always been.Gervaise, totally bewildered and alone, sinks deeper and deeper into depression and alcoholism. Her young daughter, Nana, left to her own devices, is on her way to becoming a streetwalker and later on a high class "cocotte."
Cinematographer: Robert Juillard
Producer: Agnès Delahaie
Production Manager: Jean Darvey , Walter Rupp
Certificates: Argentina:16 , Finland:K-16 , Hungary:16 , Italy:T , Netherlands:18 , Netherlands:12::(Netflix) , Norway:16 , South Korea:12 , Sweden:15 , United Kingdom:X , United Kingdom:12::(video) , West Germany:16
Composer: Georges Auric
Editor: Henri Rust
Editorial Department: Simone Boruchowicz , Hélène Arnal , Denise Charvein
Sound Crew: Antoine Archimbaud , Henri Richard , Gabriel Salagnac
Music Department: Maria Lopez , Jacques Météhen , Raymond Queneau
Miscellaneous Crew: Jean Guélis , Rita Cadillac
Other Companies: Poste Parisien , Western Electric
Costume Designer: Mayo , Lucilla Mussini
Make Up: Jeanne Néant-Drieux , Boris de Fast , Georges Klein , Simone Knapp
Assistant Director: Claude Clément , Serge Friedman , Léonard Keigel
Art Department: James Allan , Henri Berger , Eugène Roman , Roger Volper
Camera and Electrical Department: Roger Corbeau , Daniel Diot , Claude Robin , Jacques Robin
Costume Department: Simone Henry , C. Boulet , Jean Boulet , Jacqueline Guyot
Production Design: Paul Bertrand
Special Effects: Gérard Cogan
Script Department: Yvonne Vérité
Location Management: René Noël , Roger Knabe