In making his first American film, Jean Renoir eschewed the Twentieth Century Fox set being prepared for him and headed out instead for Georgia’s desolate Okefenokee Swamp, the setting for this Dudley Nichols melodrama. Walter Brennan plays a suspected murderer hiding out in the trap-ridden swamplands, and Dana Andrews the young man convinced of Brennan’s innocence. Interesting for the American “expressive technique” supposedly adopted by Renoir (for which his most ardent French supporters turned against him, and which made the film a success in America), the film is perhaps most notable yet least noticed for the way in which Renoir applied his particular genius to this American subject. Finally, it is admirable in its evocation of backwoods culture and landscape.
Godard was one Parisian who felt the French rejection of Swamp Water was unjustified. To those who lamented the late lost Rules Of The Game, he gave some (ironic) comfort: “Genius, Malraux wrote somewhere, is born like fire: of what it consumes. …Swamp Water (is misunderstood) in its turn because it consumed The Rules Of The Game…. (Renoir) destroys even as one is still admiring the temerity of his structure.” (in Milne, “Godard on Godard”) —J.B.
The son of the painter Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir became one of France’s most important and respected filmmakers during the middle of the 20th century. A Philosophy and Math student, Renoir became a cavalryman, but was invalided out of the army before World War I. Later, he married a model and aspiring actress, and, following the death of his father and the acquisition of an inheritance, set up his own production company to produce movies for his wife. Renoir learned from these early experiences of financing movies and watching other films, and became a director in 1924. With the advent of sound, Renoir’s career was quickly made with a series of profitable films, including La Chienne (1931), a savage and dark drama about a man’s self-destruction, which was later remade by Fritz Lang as Scarlet Street. Renoir’s subsequent films, including The Lower Depths (1936) and Grand Illusion (1937), were among the finest made in France before the war, and were well acknowledged at the time of… read more
Primeira produção hollywoodiana de Renoir, que sofreu nas mãos do todo poderoso da Fox David O. Selznick, responsável, com a cumplicidade do produtor Irving Pichel (diretor de ZAROFF – O CAÇADOR DE VIDAS), pelo final pra cima. Mas Renoir sucede em capturar com surpreendente realismo a vida caipira de uma comunidade à beira de um perigoso pântano na Georgia, onde se esconde um fugitivo da justiça.
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