La Bête Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast) (1938) - Rotten Tomatoes

La Bête Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast) (1938)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

La Bête Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast) Photos

Movie Info

Based on a novel by Emile Zola, La Bete Humaine weaves a mesmerizing tale of a tragic triangle. Train engineer Jean Gabin lusts after Simone Simon, the wife of his co-worker Fernand Ledoux. When Ledoux is in danger of losing his job, Simon offers herself to her husband's boss. In jealous pique, Ledoux kills the man. Gabin is witness to this, so Simon promises to reward him sexually if he'll keep quiet. As this romance intensifies, Simon tries to finagle Gabin into killing Ledoux. Sick of the whole sordid affair, Gabin murders Simon and then kills himself. When Fritz Lang remade La Bete Humaine as Human Desire in 1953, he carefully copied several of the best visual selections made by Jean Renoir in the original film; what he was not permitted to copy was the story itself, which had to be heavily laundered to accommodate Hollywood's censorship limitations. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Jean Gabin
as Jacques Lantier
Fernand Ledoux
as Robaud Séverine's Husband
Simone Simon
as Séverine
Gerard Landry
as Dauvergne's Son
Jean Renoir
as Cabuche the Poacher
Jenny Hélia
as Philomene
Colette Regis
as Victoire
Charlotte Clasis
as Aunt Phasie
Claire Gerard
as Traveler
Jacques Berlioz
as Grand-Morin
Tony Corteggiani
as Section's Chief
Marcel Peres
as Lampmaker
Guy Decomble
as Garde-barriere
Emile Genevois
as Farm Worker
Leon Larive
as Grand-Morin's servant
Georges Péclet
as Railway Worker
Georges Spanelly
as Grand-Morin's Secretary
Jacques B. Brunius
as Farm Worker
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for La Bête Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast)

Critic Reviews for La Bête Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

The film has marvellous atmosphere and a fine cast, but the material, which involves brutal, uncontrollable passion seen in a social framework, turns oppressive, and at times Gabin is a lump.

September 14, 2012

It is simply a story; a macabre, grim and oddly-fascinating story.

March 25, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Superb performances from Gabin, Simon and Ledoux as the classic tragic love triangle.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Jean Renoir's generous sensibility seems at odds with the sterile determinism of the Zola novel on which this 1938 film was based.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Renoir returns to the réelle du train with little comfort for his 'human beast.'

December 18, 2013 | Rating: 10/10 | Full Review…

Features one of Jean Gabin's greatest performances -- one with even more force than the locomotive he powers.

August 30, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for La Bête Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast)


Jean Renoir's dark retelling of the classic novel by Emile Zola has beautiful naturalist cinematography, stunning locomotive sequences, and bravura talent courtesy of the three leads (Gabin, Simon, and Ledoux). La Bete Humaine is the equivalent of Emile Zola (praising everyman values) writing Crime and Punishment, as in all of the characters have hidden scars, mostly from murder, and you watch as they go from having ordinary lives to destructive relationships. There are some amazing moments with Renoir's camerawork and the acting, and a lot of okay ones, and though the finale was intense, the just okay moments overtake most of the film's running time, rendering a longer than it should'v been. All in all, a great Zolaesque character study. 88/100

Simeon Deutsch
Simeon Deutsch

Super Reviewer

Lovely Simone Simon (see Cat People) is a deadly seductress scheming her way from relationship to relationship. An accomplice to murder, she watches as husband kills lover. Feeling trapped, she takes a new lover, Jacques Lantier (Jean Gabin), and suggests that he kill the husband. A vicious cycle that could continue to perpetuate itself, but good ole' Jacques has a few demons of his own. La Bête humaine is a cinematic perfect storm. All the elements (Gabin, Simon, Renoir, Zola) come together to create a masterpiece of romance, tragedy and betrayal.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

I dunno about this one. It had its moments of suspense, romance, etc. The scenes on the train and in the trainyard looked great. I've liked Jean Gabin in everything I've seen him in, and he doesn't disappoint here as Lantier. But forgive me, fans of her beauty (and she IS indeed beautiful), but Simone Simon's screen persona of spoiled pouting child gets old with me really quickly. It worked in Cat People, but here it's just annoying. The substory of the mysterious syndrome that turns Lantier into a murderous psychopath at the drop of a hat seemed very "deux ex machina" to me, kinda lame and gimmicky.The ending would have been more meaningful without it. I felt like this when I saw Le Bete Humaine the first time years ago, and my 2nd veiwing didn't change anything. Basically, a little overrated.

Cindy I
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

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