La Regle du Jeu is one of those controversial pix bound to elicit much comment but definitely lacking in marquee strength. It’s advertised as a comic film ‘called upon to open new horizons for the French cinema, taking its inspiration from a new school.’
As an experiment it’s interesting, but Jean Renoir, who directs, wrote the scenario and dialog, and takes a leading role, has made a common error: he attempts to crowd too many ideas into 80 minutes of film fare, resulting in confusion. Also weak is Nora Gregor, the former Princess Starhemberg, whose accent is far from pleasing and her acting stilted.
Tale concerns transatlantic flyer Andre Jurieux (Roland Toutain), who confesses to his buddy, Octave (Jean Renoir), that he’s frantically in love with the Marquise (Gregor). Whimsical Octave wants to see the love affair carried out to its denouement and arranges for a hunting party at the Marquis’ (Dalio) chateau.
Here begins a series of screwy situations. The Marquis discovers that he loves his wife and decides to give up his mistress, played by Mila Parely. But the latter has other ideas. Andre then attempts to rush the Marquise into running away with him. To complicate matters, Paulette Dubost, as the Marquise’s maid, and wife of the gamekeeper (Gaston Modot), carries on a high-powered flirtation with the Marquis’ valet (Carette). All of which continues into a dizzier whirl of infidelities.
Dalio, Carette, Toutain and Renoir are excellent. Modot is commendable. All minor roles are adequate. Photography is nifty and score pleasant.
[Renoir’s original 113-min. version was cut before release to 100 mins, and in the furore after release to 80 mins. Version reviewed is the latter, just prior to the pic’s withdrawal. Original version, reconstituted, was preemed at 1959 Venice festival.]