A melodrama about love and sex, jealousy and murder - the sort of staples that have kept the cinema going for ninety years or so - but Renoir invests it with a sense of character and place that gives it an unusually blunt and sensual impact. Neither romanticising his workers nor turning them into rallying-points, he accepts them as they are and follows them where they go. The plot is based on a real crime that occurred during the '20s in Martigues, a small town in the South of France where the film was shot. Jacques Mortier, an old friend of Renoir's who was the local police chief, assembled the facts, and Renoir wrote the script with another friend, art critic Carl Einstein. The results are both stark and gentle, as well as sexy: Toni sucking wasp poison from Josefa's lissome neck is a particularly fine moment.