Renoir’s only collaboration with Jacques Prévert, The Crime of M. Lange tells of the employees of a publishing house who form a collective to publish the Western adventure novels of their co-worker, M. Lange, after the corrupt owner, Batala, absconds with the firm’s capital and is presumed dead. A film that “emphasizes love as a social force” (André Bazin) depends upon the interactions of a marvelous cast, as David Thomson wrote for his PFA series, “Supporting Parts”: “Throughout the 1930s, Jean Renoir was seeking ways to make spatial-emotional relationships between his characters more intricate and extensive. M. Lange comes from the years when Renoir was engaged with the Popular Front-it is a kind of propaganda; yet it’s also another Maupassant-like conte in which the gravity of Community is offset by the charming silliness of these characters, the tumbling sport of love and humor, and the amazing cinematic freshness that Renoir brings to a deliberately theatrical set. Moreover, everything is made more difficult by the fact that Batala [himself] is engaging, witty and ingenious. [This] gives the film all the ambiguity of Boudu and Cordelier, other works in which Renoir regards the disruptive force with mixed feelings….M. Lange bubbles with his delight in crowded frames and character actors. [And] Renoir was good enough to know that every crowd is an uneasy container for lonely, quirky individuals.” —BAM/PFA
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
Simultaneously tells a success story and one of murder intertwined with vignettes of young love and even upfront sexuality. Renoir guides the viewer through the mini universe he creates with some of his finest camera work. Characters bounce off each other frantically and Renoir finds humanity amongst all of them. Renoir's use of music, transitions and female independence, struck me as incredibly modern. Masterpiece.
Whether you consider it a parable about capitalism (the cooperative threatened by a malevolent but charming capitalist BUT set up by Meunier the benevolent but silly capitalist) or as topical picaresque there is no denying the power or force of the Renoir mises en scene. The way people move into & out of frames or the amazing penultimate scenes of drunken revelry counterpointed by Batala's death stay fresh in memory.
Renoir shows solidarity with the working classes in this supremely entertaining film about a co-operative that is formed when the corrupt owner of a publishing company absconds and is presumed dead after a train wreck. The story is told in flashback from an inn near the border where Monsieur Lange is holed up. His lover has the task of persuading the patrons of the inn not to turn him in to the police for his crime..
Also: Light Industry screenings, contemporary art and film in Stockholm and new projects in the works.