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A Companion to Jean Renoir

ISBN: 978-1-118-32533-9
636 pages
April 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to Jean Renoir (1118325338) cover image

Description

François Truffaut called him, simply, ‘the best’. Jean Renoir is a towering figure in world cinema and fully justifies this monumental survey that includes contributions from leading international film scholars and comprehensively analyzes Renoir’s life and career from numerous critical perspectives.

  • New and original research by the world’s leading English and French language Renoir scholars explores stylistic, cultural and ideological aspects of Renoir’s films as well as key biographical periods
  • Thematic structure admits a range of critical methodologies, from textual analysis to archival research, cultural studies, gender-based and philosophical approaches
  • Features detailed analysis of Renoir’s essential works
  • Provides an international perspective on this key auteur’s enduring significance in world film history
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors viii

Acknowledgments xv

Notes on the Text xvii

Introduction: Renoir In and Out of His Time 1
Alastair Phillips and Ginette Vincendeau

Part I Renoir in Close-Up 13

Section 1 Reassessing Renoir’s Aesthetics 15

1 Shooting in Deep Time: The Mise en Scène of History in Renoir’s Films of the 1930s 16
Martin O’Shaughnessy

2 The Exception and the Norm: Relocating Renoir’s Sound and Music 35
Charles O’Brien

3 The Invention of French Talking Cinema: Language in Renoir’s Early Sound Films 53
Michel Marie

4 Renoir and His Actors: The Freedom of Puppets 72
Christophe Damour

5 Design at Work: Renoir’s Costume Dramas of the 1950s 88
Susan Hayward

Section 2 Critical Focus on Selected Films 107

6 Sur un air de Charleston, Nana, La Petite Marchande d’allumettes, Tire au flanc: Renoir and the Ethics of Play 108
Anne M. Kern

7 La Grande Illusion: Sound, Silence, and the Displacement of Emotion 121
Valerie Orpen

8 La Bête humaine: Double Murder at the Station at Le Havre 131
Olivier Curchod

9 La Règle du jeu: Lies, Truth, and Irresolution (A Critical Round Table) 144
Christopher Faulkner, Martin O’Shaughnessy, and V. F. Perkins

10 The River: Beneath the Surface with André Bazin 166
Prakash Younger

Part II Renoir: The Wider View 177

Section 1 Renoir’s Filmmaking and the Arts 179

11 Seeing with His Own Eyes: Renoir and Photography 180
Alastair Phillips

12 Popular Songs in Renoir’s Films of the 1930s 199
Kelley Conway

13 Renoir and the Popular Theater of His Time 219
Geneviève Sellier

14 Theatricality and Spectacle in La Règle du jeu, Le Carrosse d’or, and Éléna et les hommes 237
Thomas Elsaesser

15 French Cancan: A Song and Dance about Women 255
Ginette Vincendeau

16 Social Roles/Political Responsibilities: The Evolving Figure of the Artist in Renoir’s Films, 1928–1939 270
Charles Musser

Section 2 Renoir’s Place in the Critical Canon 291

17 Seeing through Renoir, Seen through Bazin 292
Dudley Andrew

18 Henri Agel’s Cinema of Contemplation: Renoir and Philosophy 313
Sarah Cooper

19 Renoir and the French Communist Party: The Grand Disillusion 328
Laurent Marie

20 “Better than a Masterpiece”: Revisiting the Reception of La Règle du jeu 347
Claude Gauteur

21 Renoir and the French New Wave 356
Richard Neupert

22 Renoir between the Public, the Professors, and the Polls 375
Ian Christie

Part III Renoir, a National and a Transnational Figure 395

Section 1 Renoir, the Chronicler of French Society 397

23 Renoir under the Popular Front: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Paradoxes of Engagement 398
Brett Bowles

24 The Performance of History in La Marseillaise 425
Tom Brown

25 Toni: A Regional Melodrama of Failed Masculinity 444
Keith Reader

26 La Règle du jeu: A Document of French Everyday Life 454
Christopher Faulkner

27 Renoir’s Jews in Context 474
Maureen Turim

Section 2 Renoir, the Transnational Figure 493

28 Renoir’s War 494
Julian Jackson

29 Interconnected Sites of Struggle: Resituating Renoir’s Career in Hollywood 514
Elizabeth Vitanza

30 The Southerner: Touching Relationships 533
Edward Gallafent

31 The Woman on the Beach: Renoir’s Dark Lady 544
Jean-Loup Bourget

32 Remaking Renoir in Hollywood 555
Lucy Mazdon

Filmography 572

Select Bibliography 585

Index 592

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Author Information

Alastair Phillips is Reader in Film Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. He is the author of Rififi (2009), and City of Darkness, City of Light: Émigré Filmmakers in Paris 1929-1939 (2004). He is co-author of 100 Film Noirs (2009) and co-editor, with Ginette Vincendeau, of Journeys of Desire: European Actors in Hollywood (2006) as well as, with Julian Stringer, of Japanese Cinema: Texts and Contexts (2007).

Ginette Vincendeau is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London, UK. Among her books are Jean Gabin, Anatomie d’un mythe, with Claude Gauteur (1993, 2006), Pépé le Moko (1998), Stars and Stardom in French Cinema (2000), Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris (2003), and La Haine (2005). She co-edited Journeys of Desire: European Actors in Hollywood (2006) and The New Wave: Critical Landmarks (2009).

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Reviews

“Phillips and Vincendeau’s volume is intelligently organized, extremely comprehensive, and generously illustrated with images from many of the films.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionanls.”  (Choice, 1 January 2014)

“Alastair Phillips and Ginette Vincendeau have brought together essays that bring new perspectives to both the best-known and the lesser-known of Renoir’s films.  Both French cinema specialists and viewers new to Renoir’s work will find much of interest in this outstanding collection.”
Judith Mayne, Ohio State University

“An extraordinary collection of essays that more than fulfills the aims of its editors, Alastair Phillips and Ginette Vincendeau. The essays offer exciting, original work from younger scholars as well as long-established authorities, all of which offer invaluable insights into the films, writings, and life of Jean Renoir. Receiving particular attention are questions about the singularity or multiplicity of what the editors call the many ‘Renoirs’ (French, American, Indian; even transnational), especially from the early 1930s through the early 1960s. Whether mining relatively unexplored archive materials, deploying newly current methodological approaches, interrogating one of a wide range of topics and issues, or engaging in close textual analysis, the contributors construct a tantalizing series of innovative ‘road maps’ for future researchers to pursue.”
Richard Abel, University of Michigan

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