Porcelain maker invites a guest to sell him chamber pots, however family problems cause interruptions.


Jean Renoir


Marguerite Pierry
as Julie Follavoine
Jacques Louvigny
as Follavoine
Michel Simon
as Chouilloux
Olga Valéry
as Madame Chouilloux
as Truchet

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 7 /10

Purging baby.

This is Jean Renoir's first talkie and he was probably delighted to let his audience hear...the sound of a flush!Preceding "la chienne" ,which was Renoir's first masterpiece ,"on purge bébé" is a hilarious farce which is not totally harmless.Georges Feydeau who wrote the play and was the specialist of the "théâtre de boulevard" satirized the bourgeois society,the social conventions and even the Army.Baby's dad's problem is to sell chamberpots to provide the soldiers with the comfort they deserve!But the very day M.Follavoine meets M.Chouilloux,from the ministry of war ,coming to make the deal,Baby refuses to go to the toilet!So his mother Julie has got to give him a purgative.A mad mad mad story ,involving a love triangle ,Follavoine throwing a chamberpot through the room to test its solidity,his wife trying to get his client to have a little purgative too (so baby will understand he must take some).Renoir's intellectual fans will probably disdain it.They do not know what they are missing!

Reviewed by LobotomousMonk 8 /10

Fringe Benefits...

On Purge Bebe is a funny little story but moves at a rather slow pace. The pace is understandable as the humor derives directly from the snappy patter between characters. I'm sure that Renoir had been chomping at the bit about sound film production leading up to this film. In fact, he suspends much of the development of his stylistic system in this film to focus on the "miraculous" ability to play out a drama with use of sync sound. That being said, there are some stylistic developments in On Purge as well as more novel uses of sound. The opening shot uses a door frame at the edges of the image frame - a technique for constructing diegetic space that Renoir was even implementing in some of his silent films. This convention is repeated in the hallway scenes which are intentionally narrow so as to include the edges of the space (the walls) as a connector to the offscreen space. These hallway scenes also present the possibility for depth of field, however, the scenario itself has limited characters unable to properly position into a deep staged setup. The fact that On Purge is a comedy and sound film leads to Renoir framing the characters in closer shot scales. However, one of the most clever uses of sound comes near the end of the film when the famous 30s French cinema trope of face-slapping is framed in a long shot while nothing is lost for the audience as the sound would have resonated through a spectator's mind like few other novel film sounds of the time. There are specifically French humorous moments (lost on me for the most part). The specific "toilet" humor juxtaposed with the military milieu, ignorance of geography (or simply of 'un-French' names) ironically juxtaposed with the titular Bebe's real name (anglicized ancient French name)and the bourgeois milieu juxtaposed with the crude and forthright personalities that inhabit it all help to create a humor with serious bounce. What can be said of this film as it relates to the common claim that Renoir was a "humanist" above all other things political? The anti-war attitude is hailed by an incorrigible brat which (for this reviewer) sooner reaffirms Renoir as ambiguous and ambivalent both to politics and humanism. Not much mobile framing or long takes in this one as the film plays out in three rooms, with half a dozen characters and is more intent on framing humor through the use of dialogue and sound. It is interesting to note that with sound film, seemingly violent actions can be understood as non-violent, making the introduction of sound nuanced to conform not only with concepts of Bazinian realism but also with the integrity of an art form. Renoir has fully broken away from the French Impressionist filmmakers as no avant-garde techniques are used in the editing of On Purge Bebe. I suppose it was a tenuous relationship to begin with as Renoir went on to demonstrate that his greatest strength as a director lay in his unobtrusive approach to being an auteur.

Reviewed by brogmiller 8 /10

A true 'chamber' piece!

I recently gave the thumbs down to a truly abysmal film of Georges Feydeau's 'A Flea in her Ear' and strongly recommended watching 'Occupe-toi d'Amelie' to see how Feydeau should be played but I could just as easily have recommended this first talking picture of Jean Renoir which he adapted from a one act vaudeville piece by Feydeau first performed in Paris in 1910, here reduced by about half an hour. It is all about 'the playing' of course and this cast has done Feydeau proud. Louvigny and Pierry are superb as is Sacha Tarride as their constipated son. This film is stolen however by Michel Simon appearing in this second of four films for Renoir. When he is on screen all eyes are drawn to him. He always maintained that he had never taken acting classes and had no idea where the acting academy was even situated. Instinct and personality are gifts of course and cannot be acquired. Roger Hubert was the camera operator on this and progressed to be the cinematographer of some of the greatest French films of all. The sound is marvellous for 1931 due not least to the legendary sound engineer Robert Bugnan. Fernandel appears briefly in a totally thankless part but you have to start somewhere. He went on, of course, to be something of a scene stealer himself! An immensely entertaining piece about chamber pots and laxatives performed by an immaculate cast that rises above the lavatorial subject matter. What a pity that Renoir was obliged to spend the war years working in Hollywood for the studio he dubbed 'Seventeenth Century Fox'!

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