Posted November 16, 2010 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Features
 
 

Jean Renoir


With Renoirs’s 1930’s classic “Boudu Saved From Drowning” digitally restored for cinemas this week, we take a look back at the great French master’s best films chosen from his span of nearly forty hugely entertaining years in the business….

With Renoirs’s 1930’s classic “Boudu Saved From Drowning” digitally restored for
cinemas this week, we take a look back at the great French master’s best
films chosen from his span of nearly forty hugely entertaining years in the
business.

1. Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932) Based on Rene Fauchois’ play,
Renoir’s draft tells the story of Michel Simon’s tramp, saved from drowning by
a Parisian bookseller who then takes the bearded bum into his home only to have
it shaken through in an attempt to turn the tramp into a gentleman. Renoir’s
humorous yet poignant film delivers a social commentary
akin to “An Inspector Calls”
or “Dinner for Schmucks” with a touch of Fawlty.

Interesting Fact: Two remakes have since hit the screen – 1986’s
“Down and Out in Beverly Hills”
and 2005’s “Boudu” which starred French acting god Gerard Depardieu in the title role.

2. Grand Illusion (1937) Renoir’s war film sees two
French soldiers bond in an attempt to escape from a German POW camp. With its commentary
on allegiance, class and nationality
Renoir delivers one of the truly great war films on
the eve of another great war.

Interesting Fact: The first foreign film to pick up a nominated for a Best
Picture Oscar
, Orson
Welles described the film as one he would take onto the ark (a sort of Desert
Island Discs
forerunner
presumably!)

3. The Rules of the Game (1939) Following on from “Grand
Illusions” war theme, Renoir chose to focus on the bourgeois set during the
onset of WW2. Moving deeper than a straight comedy of manners, Renoir
delivers a biting satire
instead which upset the powers that be so much it was eventually banned
by the French government after an arson attack at screenings and eventually
thought lost.

Interesting Fact: After the war, the remaining negatives were
painstakingly re-assembled
with
only one scene unable to be located.

4. The Southerner (1945) After fleeing to Hollywood
during the war, Renoir’s most well-received American film tells the tale of Sam
Tucker’s American Dream of starting his own farm. With an almost Steinbeck-like
feel in terms of cinematography, Renoir delivered the film which would earn him
and Oscar nomination for Best Director.

Interesting Fact: Leading man Zachary Scott was actually second
choice
for the starring
role after studios’ failed to bag favourite Joel McCrea.

5. The River (1949) Renoir’s first colour film changes tack with a
coming-of-age tale involving three young sisters in colonial India. Making
excellent use of the nation’s defining bright landscape of colours, Renoir weaves
an emotional tale through the palette available to him to create a special
tale
of a
very special moment in our adolescent lives.

Interesting Fact: Renoir’s print inspired Indie director Wes
Anderson
so much he
decided to make “The Darjeeling Limited” in India after a screening with Martin Scorsese.

6. Elena et les Hommes (1956) Or “Paris Does Strange
Things”
to
give it its English Title, Renoir’s romantic tale stars Ingrid Bergman as a
Polish countess caught in a love triangle with political figures. Though not
his most lauded film, it’s noticeable for Bergman’s sparkling performance, smile and a more modern
take on “Rules of the Game”.

Interesting Fact: Mel Ferrer’s Parisian scenes were shot in tango with
wife Audrey Hepburn’s shoot for “Funny Face” so the pair wouldn’t have to be separated during
their respective film shoots. True Love!

7. The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir (1969) Renoir’s last film emerged on
television consisting of a series of short films. With its theatrical feel at
times it’s a fitting testament to the great man, if not one of his greatest
efforts. Memorable perhaps for Jeanne Moreau’s statically maudlin song, it’s
still worth catching as a bizarrely nostalgic swansong.

Interesting Fact: Perhaps a sign of his decline, Renoir was unable to
find financing for any future films meaning this eponymous effort served as his
final farewell to cinema.

“Boudu Saved From Drowning” is in selected cinemas
from Friday 17th December


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.