They Were Five

La belle équipe

Film poster
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Written by Julien Duvivier
Charles Spaak
Starring Jean Gabin
Charles Vanel
Raymond Aimos
Viviane Romance
Music by Maurice Yvain
Release dates
  • September 1936 (1936-09)
Running time
101 minutes
Country France

La belle équipe is a 1936 French film directed by Julien Duvivier. The script was written by Duvivier and Charles Spaak. Maurice Yvain provided the score. Jean Gabin's song Quand on s'promène au bord de l'eau was written by Duvivier, Yvain and Louis Poterat. Interiors were shot at the Studios de Joinville in Joinville-le-Pont, Val-de-Marne, with exteriors at Chennevières-sur-Marne. The film is also known as "They Were Five". [1]


Five unemployed Parisian workers, Jeannot (Jean Gabin), Charlot (Charles Vanel), Raymond, called Tintin (Raymond Aimos), Jacques (Charles Dorat), and Mario (Raphaël Médina), a foreigner threatened with expulsion, win the main prize in the National Lottery. One of them, Jeannot, has the idea of putting the money together so the group can buy an old suburban wash house in ruins that they would transform, as equal co-owners, into a guinguette—a dancing and refreshment café in the country. They get down to realizing the project with confidence. But the solidarity of the group proves fragile. Soon enough the group is reduced to just Charles and Jean—who are in love with the same woman, Gina (Viviane Romance). The ending, judged too pessimistic, was re-made.

Selected cast

Critical reception

Critics have associated the film with the rise and demise of the Popular Front. The film was made in June and July 1936 and coincided with the early days of the Léon Blum government and the strikes for better conditions. Duvivier was certainly not a Leftist. It should be pointed out nonetheless that Duvivier's portrayal of male friendship gradually being eroded by a woman and by desire for that woman was canonical by 1936, so the film does not limit itself to that reading. If the men in Duvivier's film do not get to fulfil their dream of setting up their guinguette it is because, while economically they can be solidaires—as one, sexually they cannot.On a first level of reading, therefore, it is sex before politics that drives the narrative." [2]


  1. "They Were Five". Retrieved 2015-02-12.
  2. Susan Hayward French National Cinema ISBN 0-415-30783-X
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