It’s not just that Valentin seduces his women victims, but that he ultimately tortures them, just, as we are later told, he painfully tortures the dogs into submission. In what has to be one of the high points in artful lying in the cinema, Valentin tells François that he is the long-lost father of Françoise, and that his interest in her is that of a man who perceives himself as, long ago, having done a wrong, which he now wants to right.
Even the pleas of François’ women, both Françoise and Clara, taken up by the neighbors who all recognize him as a good person and an “ordinary man,” the police will not/cannot let the situation amicably resolve. Because he is ordinary, François must be destroyed. And it is that subtle class statement that underlies Prévert’s and Carné’s film and helps to make us care so much for the accidental murderer. Yet we also recognize that it is a murder that need not have happened, for despite Valentin’s bluster and his outright admission that he has seduced François’ future wife, the factory worker was won; Valentin, despite his taunts and challenges, as he himself admits, is a loser, for the simple actions and faith of François have helped win Françoise’s love. Finally, it is only François’ ordinariness, and the male macho that comes with that, that does him in. As much as we might all wish for the death of the slimy villain Valentin, it is unjustifiable given the actual circumstances. And it is François’ “commonness”—what one might describe as the predictability of his actions—that will not allow his survival. Like the teddy bear, Boulou, which Françoise gives him early in the film, François is not only a kind of burly beast who feels trapped, but has only one ear, and, therefore, is unable to hear that the crowd is shouting for him to come out for a “fair” trial. Already isolated from the society at large, he can do nothing but barricade himself in, ultimately sacrificing himself—and with that, his romantically pure ideals—at the very moment the police lob in a canister of tear gas to draw him out. The final sound we hear only reasserts the very ordinariness of his life, as his daily-set alarm clock goes off, calling him into the daybreak of his endless hard work at the foundry, a job that, because of its health-hazards, might have led him to an early death in any event.
In short, François, alas, has been doomed from the very start—not just by the events recounted in the movie, but from the very beginning of his life.