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Realist tale of a crime of passion in southern France from Jean Renoir
For his first film set among the working classes, Jean Renoir (working with his cinematographer nephew Claude Renoir, and Luchino Visconti as assistant director) shot exclusively outdoors and in genuine interiors in the countryside around Marseilles, using actors from the region. The cast also included a black American, making him one of the few blacks in films at the time to be treated on a par with the other characters.
Toni, which was based on a police dossier, tells of an Italian quarry worker (Blavette), arrested for a murder he did not commit. This tale of jealousy, passion and murder could have been melodramatic, but it derives from the details of the everyday life of the immigrant workers, which Renoir presents without romanticism or special pleading.
A seminal film from Renoir, with powerful themes and a direct, immediate style.
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