818 La chienne

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swo17
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818 La chienne

#1 Post by swo17 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:10 pm

La chienne

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Jean Renoir's ruthless love triangle tale, his second sound film, is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter The Rules of the Game, displaying all of the filmmaker's visual genius and fully imbued with his profound sense of humanity. A hangdog Michel Simon cuts a tragic figure as an unhappily married cashier and amateur painter who becomes so smitten with a prostitute that he refuses to see the obvious: that she and her pimp boyfriend are taking advantage of him. Renoir's elegant compositions and camera movements carry this twisting and turning narrative—a stinging commentary on class and sexual divides—to an unforgettably ironic conclusion.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Introduction to the film by director Jean Renoir from 1967
• New interview with Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner
• New restoration of On purge bébé (1931), Renoir's first sound film, also starring Michel Simon and never before on Blu-ray or DVD in the U.S.
Jean Renoir le patron: "Michel Simon" (1966), a ninety-minute French television program featuring a conversation between Renoir and Simon, moderated by filmmaker Jacques Rivette
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar and critic Ginette Vincendeau

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knives
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Re: 818 La chienne

#2 Post by knives » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:12 pm

Well this is an amazing surprise especially with the extra film.

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domino harvey
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Re: 818 La chienne

#3 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:16 pm

Not the bonus film many were expecting, but a much better surprise this way! This looks like a great release

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mizo
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Re: 818 La chienne

#4 Post by mizo » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:24 pm

I've long been intrigued by the Wikipedia entry for On purge bebe.
It is a 1931 comedy about a supposedly unbreakable chamberpot and a constipated baby. It is noted for mocking the French bourgeoisie.

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Ashirg
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Re: 818 La chienne

#5 Post by Ashirg » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:38 pm

This is a documentary that is included, right?

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zedz
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Re: 818 La chienne

#6 Post by zedz » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:48 pm

A fantastic release. I've had the Kino VHS for years but never watched it because I always assumed a DVD release of such a major film must surely be just around the corner. Adding On purge bebe is the chocolate ganache on top.

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movielocke
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Re: 818 La chienne

#7 Post by movielocke » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:56 pm

domino harvey wrote:Not the bonus film many were expecting, but a much better surprise this way! This looks like a great release
what bonus film were people expecting?

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domino harvey
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Re: 818 La chienne

#8 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:57 pm

Lang's PD remake, Scarlet Street

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Tommaso
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Re: 818 La chienne

#9 Post by Tommaso » Wed Mar 16, 2016 7:20 pm

Wonderful release, even though both films have long been available on DVDR with fansubs in the backchannels. But Criterion putting them together on one disc and adding that 90 min. conversation between Simon and Renoir should be more than enough joy for anyone interested in these films (quite apart from the blu treatment). And "On purge bébé" is one of the most hilariously funny films of that era. Must-have.

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Gregory
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Re: 818 La chienne

#10 Post by Gregory » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:57 pm

mizoguchi5354 wrote:I've long been intrigued by the Wikipedia entry for On purge bebe.
It is a 1931 comedy about a supposedly unbreakable chamberpot and a constipated baby. It is noted for mocking the French bourgeoisie.
The Feydeau play that the film was adapting has been billed with the English title translation "Baby Won't Sh•t." It always sounded to me like it had more earmarks of the Feydeau than of Renoir developing his craft, but it'll be fun to find out. This was Renoir working on a real shoestring, doing the film in six days or less. He was ready to make La Chienne but first had to do On Purge Bébé as sort of a test to prove to the producer that he could work quickly and with a small budget (he had several lavish silent epics under his belt).
Renoir also lamented how crude the sound recording was in those days, with the sets arranged around a microphone, and it seems like the camera stays put quite a lot, without much cutting, movement, close-ups—the main draw being the popular Feydeau farce itself.

Very excited for this release!

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NABOB OF NOWHERE
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Re: 818 La chienne

#11 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:58 am

Them extras is plain bitchin'. Shame I got the french blu where La Chienne was just tacked on to Une Partie.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 818 La chienne

#12 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:28 am

Excellent news. I managed to see it at BAM during their Renoir retrospective in 2010 from a very good 35mm print, and I loved it - I had seen Scarlet Street, and you really see how two master filmmakers can reinterpret the same material into two great and very personal works. It's quite remarkable, even more so than La Bête Humaine and Human Desire.

Just compare the endings alone, it's terribly enjoyable. Scarlet Street is cruel. If memory serves, La chienne has the same ending, but the mood and tone is the exact polar opposite, with Renoir finding a great deal of warmth and humor in the same misfortunate when by Lang's interpretation, you never would've thought there was any trace of that there.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 818 La chienne

#13 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:16 pm

This looks like a completely fantastic release, and although I have the film (and purge bebe) in several different incarnations, this will surely be superb and trump pretty much everything out there (not a difficult task).

Scarlet Street would likely be an unreasonable expectation for CC since Kino has it out on both BD (progressive, from the Lib of Congress print) and DVD for the North American region, and the two houses rarely if ever stomp into each others territory.
zedz wrote:A fantastic release. I've had the Kino VHS for years but never watched it because I always assumed a DVD release of such a major film must surely be just around the corner. Adding On purge bebe is the chocolate ganache on top.
I bought my entire VHS collection of hundreds of classics over a period of roughly twenty five years but never watched any of it, as I knew digital was coming sooner or later!

In fact, I never watched roof antenna TV as a child for the same reason. :roll:

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sir_luke
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Re: 818 La chienne

#14 Post by sir_luke » Mon May 30, 2016 12:05 pm


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Mr Sausage
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La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#15 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:20 am

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domino harvey
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Re: 818 La chienne

#16 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 18, 2016 3:57 pm

Tommaso wrote:And "On purge bébé" is one of the most hilariously funny films of that era. Must-have.
More definitive proof of the subjective nature of comedy! If Renoir ever made a film worse than this, I hope I never see it. I found this material stridently unfunny and obnoxious and enacted with endlessly preening stage acting (though Simon's posturing is bearable, the actress playing the wife is bad enough for two). Having a movie about shit with "shit" in the title makes it too easy to be this reductive, but this truly was complete shit.

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Gregory
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Re: 818 La chienne

#17 Post by Gregory » Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:15 pm

It was just about exactly what I expected and is a great extra for those wanting to see Renoir's transition into the sound era and how he coped with the strict limitations of the sound equipment in this film, perhaps preparing him for the amazing use of direct sound in La Chienne. What was really absurd was that this film served as proof that Renoir could make films on a shoestring with a ridiculously short shooting schedule: he shot it in six days, cut it in six days, and a few weeks later people were watching it, which worked fine for a film like this but is ridiculous as a model. The idea that a difficult film like La Chienne could be done in anything resembling that kind of way, and that On Purge Bébé somehow proved Renoir to be able to make talkies in the right way is hard to fathom. It proved to the producer that he could be entrusted with a film like La Chienne, but then that created the false impression that the latter would be anything like On Purge Bébé. Lots of growing pains in this period in the industry including in terms of audience expectations.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: 818 La chienne

#18 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:19 pm

I think the idea of On Purge Bébé has comic potential, but agree with domino that the absurdly broad performances wreck it. But, boy, that transfer looks gorgeous!

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Gregory
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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#19 Post by Gregory » Mon Jul 18, 2016 4:43 pm

Something about the original release and reception that's hard to fathom is that audiences weren't prepared for this kind of "realism" in a sound film. Realism in a certain sense could imply an unwillingness on Renoir's part to feed audiences a story with clear morals. Renoir said in an interview once that realist narratives in silent films had been accepted but when audiences saw such depressing situations in a talking picture they couldn't accept it. He said that the opening engagement of it in Nancy had to be interrupted for this reason. The great story Renoir tells about this was that the film was saved after a friend of his with a theater in another small town enticed audiences to the film by putting up posters all over town playing up the troubling realist situations in the film: 'This film is horrible, don't bring your children,' etc. and then after that successful run the film premiered in Paris and had unprecedented long engagements. I have to wonder about the timing of the death of Janie Marèse and how the publicity around that tragedy made audiences more eager to see the film.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#20 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:51 pm

It's funny how much that sense of realism is both fitting with and contradictory to Renoir's reputation as a humanist, too- there's a general atmosphere of a world in which pretty much everyone is rotten about the movie, where all the main characters are simultaneously taking advantage and being taken advantage of, in a circle almost as neat as The Rules of the Game, but I think both the Punch and Judy show intro and the coda with the two husbands rolling all the tragedy off their back and striding off for a meal together give the movie as a whole a sly sense of Renoir's affection for even these people. His humanism is all the more profound for managing to include these nasty little people in it; anyone could like de Boeldieu or Henriette from A Day in the Country, and even Boudu has a certain charm, but it is almost a statement of purpose to make as your breakout film one in which the most likeable character is a murderer, a cuckold, and an embezzler, and is ultimately entirely unrepentant about it.

That is one of the strongest contrasts with the elephant in the room, Scarlet Street- Lang has a lot of affection for Joan Bennett, and some pity for Robinson, but ultimately it is a starker movie, one full of moral ghosts and nightmares, and not the sort of oddly distanced tragicomedy Renoir finds in the material.

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domino harvey
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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#21 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:14 pm

My main takeaway from this movie is that the servers at the cafes all the characters visit are sloppy as hell. Don't they realize they're the ones who are gonna have to clean that up?

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Oedipax
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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#22 Post by Oedipax » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:46 pm

This is a total tangent, but if we have any native Parisians here I'd be curious to get your take on it. So early in the film when Michel Simon walks Lucienne home at night, they drop Dédé off first at Rue Perrault, then she says she lives right around Barbès (juste à côté) and that it's not far, so they walk together. But really, Barbès is probably a good 45 minutes walk from the 1st to the 18th arrondissement. So was a 45 minute walk considered not that big of a deal or is this kind of a geography goof? Or did Barbès mean something slightly different in 1931?

Maybe Lucienne is okay with it because she needs a little time with Michel Simon to properly get him to start falling for her. Anyway, I'm the last person in the world to care about these kinds of continuity things, except that I'm admittedly fascinated with the city of Paris and I'm always looking to figure out which neighborhoods around the city films are taking place in. I always try to read the street signs and stuff, figure out the arrondissements, etc. It's kind of a curse :lol:

Otherwise, as far as the film itself goes, for me it started strong and wore a little thin as time went on. I didn't think the reintroduction of the ex-husband was handled particularly well, those scenes felt like they could have been more compelling but Renoir seems to deliberately drain some of the inherent farcical humor from them. I did like the ending with the two reunited as bums and the ironic self-portrait in the car driving away.

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domino harvey
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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#23 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:49 pm

Maybe the cab driver didn't wait at all then and just drove around picking up other fares for an hour and a half. It would explain his casual demeanor at being stiffed!

EDIT: Actually, in all seriousness, the cab driver might be your answer-- according to my figuring, fifteen francs in this period is worth roughly fifteen dollars in contemporary US money when inflation is figured in. That would still be pretty low for dropping off the pimp and sitting around, but would be cosmicly low for a huge wait on top of it!

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Roger Ryan
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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#24 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:31 pm

In the Jean Renoir le patron: “Michel Simon” extra, Simon notes that he wasn't given enough time or film stock (!) to work out how to play the actual murder effectively. He's careful not to place the blame on Renoir who says nothing to contradict Simon. But it seems to me that Renoir should be the one to take responsibility for not getting suitable footage of the murder. As it is, having the murder occur off-camera in a proto-Hitchcock fashion seems like the most effective way to direct this sequence and feels planned that way from the start.

What I found most interesting about La Chienne, apart from the way it cheerfully ignores conventional morals, is that so much of the film is a collection of very short scenes that subtly or, in a couple of cases, not so subtly advance the plot. One would imagine that if the film had been produced a few years later, a score would have been overdubbed to connect many of these segments. That these montage-like scenes are edited together with no score (an unavoidable technical limitation), gives the film a dispassionate, clinical feel which only emphasizes the jaundiced worldview on display.

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Re: La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

#25 Post by Drucker » Sat Jul 23, 2016 5:42 pm

I definitely enjoyed La Chienne more than last week's Boudu. After working my way through both films and some of the extras on La Chienne, it seems very plausible to me that Renoir's antagonism towards the upper classes/the "society" which he was raised him led to a film full of bile, but still sort of lacking a point and even much of a story. La Chienne still comes off like early-Renoir but the results are much more fleshed out.

For one thing, we are given a full group of people to work with. While the film focuses on the love trio, each has their own hopes/dreams/fears that are well-fleshed out. There are subplots and well-developed parts of their lives on display, as well, something I felt was really lacking in Boudu. And artistically the film feels much stronger than Boudu. When Simon's character first picks up the girl, and drops her off in the shadow, we are granted a beautiful shot. What they are doing is bad in the eyes of society from multiple perspectives, and the secrecy and dark backdrop do a great job of illustrating that.

In addition, something Faulknor points out in his interview on the disc is the use of doors and windows to illustrate how inside/outside world interact in Renoir's films. While I think he overstates how effective it really is in this film, it certainly is something Renoir's use of the camera has always made me feel: that we are part of the film ourselves, and observing these people in real time. While I felt that was lacking in Boudu, it is present in certain scenes here, especially the murder scene. When the camera goes into the window after the deed, it is a preview of a similar shot used in La Grande Illusion, where everyone approaches the window and we leave a room (rather than enter it.)

In general I liked this film a great deal. I found Simon's character was played perfectly, and really added to the tragedy of the film. He honestly felt like less of a putz than Robinson feels like in Scarlet Street, and his tenderness just adds to the tragedy of the ending. I had actually totally forgot about the subplot with the husband returning, and that was a great example of Simon's character being somehow both sharp and pathetic at the same time in a likeable way.

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