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The Rules of the Game (1939)

La règle du jeu (original title)
Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 8 April 1950 (USA)
A bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II, as the rich and their poor servants meet up at a French chateau.

Director:

Writers:

(scenario & dialogue), (collaborator) (as Koch)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Christine de la Cheyniest (as Nora Grégor)
...
Lisette, sa camériste
Mila Parély ...
Geneviève de Marras
Odette Talazac ...
Madame Charlotte de la Plante
Claire Gérard ...
Madame de la Bruyère
Anne Mayen ...
Jackie, nièce de Christine
Lise Elina ...
Radio-Reporter (as Lise Élina)
...
...
Marceau, le braconnier (as Carette)
Roland Toutain ...
André Jurieux
Gaston Modot ...
Edouard Schumacher, le garde-chasse
...
Octave
Pierre Magnier ...
Le général
Eddy Debray ...
Corneille, le majordome
Pierre Nay ...
Monsieur de St. Aubin
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Storyline

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 Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One of the two or three greatest films ever made in France.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

8 April 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Rules of the Game  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 5,500,500 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite now being considered by historians to be one of the best films ever made, the picture almost became a lost art. Claiming that it was bad for the morale of the country (due to impending war), the French government banned the film about a month after its original release. When Germany took over France the following year, it was banned by the Nazi party as well, who also burnt many of the prints. Allied planes then accidentally destroyed the original negatives. It was thought to be a lost picture. In 1956, some followers of director Jean Renoir found enough pieces of the film scattered throughout France to reconstitute it with Renoir's help. Renoir claimed only one minor scene from the original cut was missing. See more »

Goofs

When you first see Christine and Lissette, there is a man visible in Christine's dressing-table mirror. See more »

Quotes

Robert de la Cheyniest: Corneille! Put an end to this farce!
Corneille, le majordome: Which one, your lordship?
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Simpsons: Love Is a Many Splintered Thing (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Valse No. 7 op. 64, 2 'Petit chien'
(uncredited)
Music by Frédéric Chopin (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

"Rules" Rules
24 June 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the ways in which a film of some age can be immediately identified as great is that we do not really notice that it is old. The same elements that attract us contemporarily are as quickly noted in the landmark movies of yesteryear. So it is with `The Rules of the Game', Jean Renoir's flamboyantly provocative study of class distinction and human folly.

Long heralded as one of the great films of all time, it is of such complexity and has so much great dialogue that in fairness it should be viewed several times. There are so many complex shots and methods of capturing moments that one might discover a new item with each visit. These arrangements run the gamut of half a dozen actors criss-crossing the scope of a shot or the use of mirrors to perhaps focus our attention on something Renoir wants us to appreciate or tuck away for later rumination.

As the movie opens, Lise Elena (as the on-the-scene radio reporter) is perfect in conveying the energy and attention/attraction a record-setting Trans-Atlantic flight would have attracted at the time; the drama of the moment as pilot André Jurieux (Roland Toutain) lands amid pandemonium is caught exactly as it might occur. Renoir is giving us a hero that we almost immediately find is flawed and does not stand up to close inspection, as do none of the great political figures of that time. As the film progresses the hero Jurieux is found wanting in every regard, as it turns out.

Paulette Dubost (as the maid, Lisette) is introduced early as attendant to a key figure - Christine de la Cheyniest (played by Nora Gregor) – and is so heartbreakingly pretty even watching her eat an apple is a guilty pleasure. Christine turns out to be the hub of a wheel of fascination, deception, and unrequited love yet herself is only as exotic as her foreign background. This Mutt and Jeff pairing is nicely shown in drawing room scenes as the high-society semi-charmer is fawned over by the lovely Lisette.

The players intermingle primarily at the chateau of Christine's husband Robert (played by Dalio) and what unfolds is a tale that documents the excesses of both classes. We might say we see a series of interpersonal clashes amidst clueless-in-love slackers with the occasional agenda-wielding guest thrown in; but all this is recorded with just the right touch of realism. So we find that Christine's heart may well lie with the adoring Jurieux, that Lisette is not exactly pining for her gamekeeper husband Schumacher, Robert's lover is not sure of her need for him (or he of his feelings for her) and throughout poor Octave remains a stolid yet curiously uncommitted friend to all.

The only aspect of the film that does not come across well is the sometimes overly hammy acting of some of the players. But with the exception of Renoir himself (playing Octave) this over-the-topness comes in fits and starts, never overwhelming us at all. Renoir's Octave could have been played by Jackie Gleason to great effect.

Very noticeable to current viewers is the great similarity of the more recent `Gosford Park' to this 1939 Jean Renoir film. While Robert Altman's film focuses on class differences so piquantly, `Rules' is actually more sublime. But that hanky-panky and its inevitably hurtful consequence knows no class – despite `Rules' – could not be more fascinating than the depiction given it by Renoir in this film.

Rating: Four Stars.


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