Jean Renoir, La Chienne (1931)

The latest issue of Quarterly Review of Film and Video contains a section on films that ought to be on DVD, but currently are not. Many authors contributed short articles; I wrote about Jean Renoir’s La Chienne (1931). Since the whole issue is behind a paywall, and if you don’t have access to the journal through a university library or some such, you must pay the ridiculous fee of US$30 to get access to a single 1000-word article, I have made my contribution available for free here.

5 thoughts on “Jean Renoir, La Chienne (1931)”

  1. Great article, Steve, thank you for it. Would love to get a look at at least the list of titles included, if not the full essays.

  2. Steve, thanks so much for posting this. La Chienne is one of my favorite
    Renoir films and I used to show it as part of a double feature (with Scarlet Street) in my undergrad film history class. Lovely analysis

  3. Thanks, Joan, glad you liked what I wrote. Yes, I used to teach a double bill of La Chienne and Scarlet Street as well. Would do so again, were La Chienne to become available.

  4. Steven, I just read your notes on La Chienne (moments after watching it for the first time) and wanted to thank you for helping me connect the dots to Renoir’s broader oeuvre and class critique. I too was struck by how the film appears to both exemplify, and delightfully twist, the conventional melodrama of “him, her, and the other him.” It’s fascinating how the film could be so much of its time, yet also feel remarkably modern. This is also reflected in the shooting style, which is sometimes “sound-stagey” (particularly in the scene when Dédé and his accomplice meet with success at Wallstein’s gallery) and other times quite vérité (especially on the street, as you noted). The ending was a complete surprise, again masterfully playing with cinematic conventions but with a completely natural and unsentimental perspective. Watching the self-portrait of Legrande at his happiest, recede in the distance while the broken (but free) old man Legrande reaches down to pick up 20 francs, is a brilliant glimpse of what Renoir could do. Unapologetically filmic, but also very real. A surprising film that deserves reassessment. (I suppose I should watch Scarlet Street now, too, eh? 🙂

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