During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Aviator André Jurieux has just completed a record-setting flight, but when he is greeted by an admiring crowd, all he can say to them is how miserable he is that the woman he loves did not come to meet him. He is in love with Christine, the wife of aristocrat Robert de la Cheyniest. Robert himself is involved in an affair with Geneviève de Marras, but he is trying to break it off. Meanwhile, André seeks help from his old friend Octave, who gets André an invitation to the country home where Robert and Christine are hosting a large hunting party. As the guests arrive for the party, their cordial greetings hide their real feelings, along with their secrets - and even some of the servants are involved in tangled relationships. Written by
When the film opened in 1939, initial reception of it was so bad that one viewer lit a newspaper and tried to burn the theater that it was playing in. There were even threats to other theaters. See more »
When the party first arrives at the château, a boom shadow falls on the back of the head of the old white haired guy standing there. See more »
Robert de la Cheyniest:
I have no choice but to dismiss you. It breaks my heart, but I can't expose my guests to your firearms. It may be wrong of them, but they value their lives.
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How can words do justice to this dream of a film? It is one of a dozen or so movies in all film history where just everything seems to have gone right. The casting is perfect, it is technically so seamless to make discussion of that side of the film crass, and the script is one of the great narratives in any medium of its century. The characterisation is absolutely matchless. I cannot think of a film with characters as rich as Lisette, the maid, la Chesnaye, the unfaithful aristocrat, Marceau the poacher, and, above all, Renoir's bumbling Octave who sets the tragic events in motion. Great dramatic art, of which this is arguably the cinema's finest example, is usually characterised by irony. La Règle du Jeu has it in spades. In the sensational final 25 minutes, when enemies become friends, and friends enemies, the cinema seems to take off in flight raising this great art to undreamed of heights. It is just so perfect, it makes you want to weep.
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