Early on in his filmmaking career, Jean Renoir struggled to find critical success and financial stability. Whether forced to sell the paintings passed down to him from his father, Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir, to cover his debts or subjected to mixed audience reactions and considerable cuts made to his films, he had to face many uncertain years before reaching the success and respect he would enjoy later in his life. His 1936 adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths gave him a helpful boost in that direction, earning him the very first Louis Delluc Prize and positive results from both critics and the box office. Additionally, it was his first collaboration with French star Jean Gabin, who would work with Renoir again in such notable films as La bête humaine, Grand Illusion, and French Cancan.
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