Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. France, 1939. Nouvelles Editions de Films. Scenario and dialogue by Jean Renoir, collaboration with Carl Koch. Cinematography by Jean-Paul Alphen, Jean Bachelet, Jacques Lemare, Alain Renoir. Produced by Jean Renoir. Music by Joseph Kosma. Production Design by Max Douy, Eugène Lourié. Costume Design by Coco Chanel. Film Editing by Marthe Huguet, Marguerite Renoir.
You can barely throw a marble in any direction of the cinema without finding a film that has been influenced by this classic ensemble comedy. A beautiful Viennese ex-patriot lives a bored existence with her estranged husband. He’s got a jealous mistress who is anxious for him to leave his wife, while she is in the process of rejecting of a nationally famous pilot who has traversed the Atlantic merely as a white handkerchief to throw at her. When these four and a few more of their friends get together at a chateau for wining, dining and card-playing, their shallow views of human emotions go from polite romance to screwball madness to a dangerous outcome. Director Jean Renoir, who appears as one of the most likeable of the guests, does a great job of skewering the discreet charms of the bourgeoisie without ever being unfairly judgmental; he loves the very people he’s making light of for being so irresponsible, and can’t help but throw a bone of pity their way from time to time. Aside from the brilliant writing, the silvery photography still looks beautiful after all these decades, and the costumes and sets are divine.