On the eve of WWII, celebrated aviator André Jurieux (Roland Toutain) is in love with Christine (Nora Gregor). She is the wife to the Marquis de la Chesnaye (Robert Dalio). La Chesnaye is having an affair with socialite Geneviève (Mila Parely). The gamekeeper Schumacher (Gaston Modot), meanwhile, suspects his wife of having an affair with the poacher Marceau (Julien Carette).
Upstairs, for the aristocrats the most important thing is to maintain decorum, follow the rules of the game while at the same time finding sensual pleasure in infidelity. Below the servants enact in cruder, yet more honest form, the underlying hostility. In between both groups is Octave (Jean Renoir), the bridge that is a friend to all. Problems arise when there's confusion about identities; The rules of both groups mix resulting in a murder.
Release date: July 8, 1939
The costumes were designed by the famous Coco Chanel (1883-1971).
The movie is based on a 19th century comedy, Les Caprices de Marianne (The moods of Marianne) by Alfred de Musset (1810-1857).
Jean Renoir in his memoirs My Life and My Films: “It’s a war film, and yet there is no reference to the war. Beneath it's seemingly innocuous appearance the story attacks the very structure of our society. Yet all I thought about at the beginning was nothing avant-garde but a good little orthodox film. People go to the cinema in hopes of forgetting their everyday problems, and it was precisely their own worries that I plunged them into... The truth is that they recognized themselves. People who commit suicide do not care to do it in front of witnesses” Source / More (Book)
Woody Allen: “The rules of the game is a great dialogue picture. Probably the best” Source / More (Book)
Jean Renoir is the son of the painter Auguste Renoir (1841-1919).
Famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 - 2004) plays a British servant.
The allies destroyed the original copy on a bombing raid in 1942. In the late fifties two Renoir fans discovered 224 boxes of positives, negatives, dupes, soundtracks and fragments and restored the film to it's original form, missing only a minute of dialogue.
The film was reviled as being demoralizing and anti-patriotic. Even before the first screening, Renoir was asked by the theatre owners, to make some cuts to his 113 minute version. The film was cut to 100 minutes to 95 minutes to 81 minutes. The DVD is 110 minutes.
The French public hated the thought of French aristocrats with Jewish parents and German wives and the film was a commercial disaster.
Jean financed some of his films by selling some of his late father’s paintings.
September 15, 1894
February 12, 1979
The second son of impressionist Auguste Renoir grew up in the artistic milieu of turn-of-the-century Paris. After World War I, in which he was wounded, his film career started when he scripted Catherine (1924). A year later Renoir directed his first film, La fille de l'eau because he wanted to make a star of his wife Catherine Hessling (a former model of his father).
The coming of sound raised him on a higher level commercially, On purge Bébé (1931) and artistically, La Chienne (1931).
In the late thirties he reached his peaks with La Grande Illusion (1937), a study of three French POWs and La regle du jeu (1939). He left France in 1941 during the German invasion and became a naturalized US citizen. In Hollywood, Renoir made six American films with limited success. He turned to writing, to the theatre and to television.
Jean was awarded the French légion d'honneur in 1977.
1946 - Nominated best Director for: The Southerner (1945)
1975 - Honorary Academy Award