Brutal stuff. It must have been hilarious to witness the reactions of Will Hays and co. when they viewed the film for the American market. Michel Simon once again delivers a memorable performance in the leading role. Renoir is always at his best when he's showing us the dark side of human nature, the greed and the lust and what we are capable of doing under certain circumstances or when life deals you a bad hand.
Renoir's direction doesn't follow the contemporary rules of that period, but relies solely - like all great filmmakers - on his own notion of form and narrative, one of the many reasons this film has aged extremely well, in addition to the great performances of course.
After I saw 'Scarlett Street' I wanted to see the original and figure out why Renoir didn't like it. In terms of pure technique, the Lang version is better. Renoir was so thrilled with sound that he places a long scene of someone singing at a crucial time in the film, which derails it a bit. The thing he was right about was that his Lulu actually is a prozzy, and as for moralizing, he makes it a bit of a joke.
4.2 Cinema seems to be Renoir´s natural way of expression. In his hands directing appears to be an easy job. No effort... And yet, his command of image and sound (this is his only his second sound film) is complex and versatile. Mirrors, paintings, frame within frames, long takes - it all serves a purpose in the story and works equally as metaphor... The epilogue is the icing on the cake.
Jean Renoir's second sound feature is adapted from the same novel that Fritz Lang turned into Scarlet Street, only Renoir takes a more humanistic approach. http://eddieonfilm.blogspot.com/2010/02/it-has-no-moral-whatsoever-and-proves.html