Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game is one of the greatest films ever made. As you might already know, Jean Renoir was the son of the remarkable impressionist painter, Auguste Renoir - whose paintings are so beautiful and glorious that they are actually worth the millions that they sell for today. This film is perhaps Jean Renoir's finest work, though some might prefer his other masterpiece, La Grande Illusion, also available on this site. Unlike Grande Illusion that is a heavy film about the tragic ironies of war, this film is hilarious satire about the fading French aristocracy and a wonderful portrayal of the human comedy of love, marriage, and relationships.
Rules of the Game, The
Directed by - Jean Renoir
(1939) - B&W - 100 min
In many ways, this film draws from the epic comedy of the Bard, a.k.a. William Shakespeare, and his play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Woody Allen know doubt enjoyed this film and was inspired to create a Midsummer Night's sex comedy. We even get to watch the great director Renoir himself, play a key role as Christine's witty confidante, Octave. Nora Gregor is suberb as Christine and you'll love her as she is vivacious, attractive, sympathetic and tortured. And all the male characters seem to love her too. Who will she go for in the end? Watch it and see for yourself.
Intro, B&W, title screens, credits, etc. The movie opens with a mob scene at the airport, as the French press meets the heroic aviator, Andre Jurieux - who has just flown across the Atlantic in record time. But is he happy - no way. The poor guy is a sullen, lovesick mess, because his beloved Christine didn't come to the airport to greet him. Instead he is greeted by his buddy, Octave (Jean Renoir) who tells him he's an ass. As they drive away, the hero tries to kill himself and Octave by running the car into a tree. But Chrsitine is married to a rich aristocrat, Robert, who seems more interested in his wind-up bird toys than Christine. He's also trying to end affair with Geneviève de Marras, who is basically a rich bitch. Meanwhile, Octave is trying to get the his buddy, the lovesick hero pilot invited to Christine's fancy party at the country estate.
Nora Gregor as Christine de la Cheyniest
Paulette Dubost as Lisette and Gaston Modot as Schumacher her jealous husband
All the aristocratic buddies of the Marquis, a.k.a. the hoi polloi, arrive at his incredible country estate for wild parties and a little bit of hunting. We meet the game warden of the estate, Schumacher who is married to Madame Chrsitine's personal servant, Lisette. We also meet Marceau, who is caught poaching rabbits at the estate. Schumacher wants to kick his butt, but the aristocratic owner of the estate decides to give him a job at the house shining shoes. Lisette, who is bored with her oafish husband, takes a shining to the the new shoe polisher.
Julien Carette as Marceau, the shoe shine servant who is hot for Lisette, Schumacher's wife
The rich folks all get dressed up to go shoot some pheasant and rabbits. This is a great scene, and all the servants go beating sticks in the woods (like a great snipe hunt), driving the game to the aristocrats, who are all waiting with shotguns to blow little Thumpers head off. Beware animal lovers- if you are an active member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) the movie shows some little furry forest denizens getting whacked. Also, beware if you like people - as Renoir's biting satire doesn't spare them either.
Rules of the Game, The
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Marcel Dalio as Robert, the aristocratic wimp who is married to Christine and has a fondness for wind-up bird toys
All right - time for the big party, as the guests put on a vaudville show and Octave dresses up as a bear. Lots of fun and silliness - and all the party goers are doing a bunch of drinking, which seems to change the rules of the game. All the inhibitions are put to bed and the lusty yearnings for forbidden liasons rule the night. One of the funniest scenes in the history of cinema unfolds before your eyes.
Director Jean Renoir (right) as Octave, Christine's platonic buddy
The conclusion of Rules of the Game is too much fun to give away.... so we won't. You'll have to watch it to find out. Who will win Christine's fickle heart? And what are the rules for this crazy game?
Paulette Dubost Lisette as Christine's personal valet
Mila Parély as Geneviève, Marceau's formal mistress who threatens to blow the whistle and tell Christine everything
some of the aristocrats living it up at the big soiree
Pierre Magnier as the general