The Rules of the Game (1939)

Director: Jean Renoir Cinematographer: Jean Bachelet
 The Rules of the Game (1939) on IMDb

Ending a decade of great artistic achievement for French cinema, Renoir’s masterpiece marked a striking departure in filming technique, (particularly from Hollywood norms) with its long takes, constantly moving camera and use of deep focus. Looking at French society just before the start of World War II, the film is principally set in the country estate of the Marquis de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio) and shows the collapse of a frivolous, static and corrupt aristocratic society. This image of France, as well as the film’s elaborate structure and the ambiguity of the characters, confused critics, provoked hostility from the public and was banned as demoralising by the French government after the outbreak of war.  Renoir never recovered from the negative reaction but despite this and the lack of commercial success, the director’s filming style, that brought out a complex mise-en-scene, the rich and varied array of characters and the 1959 restoration version helped to grow its reputation as one of the greatest films of all time.

Buy or Rent (watch online)
The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]
The Criterion Collection (DVD)
Jean Renoir Julien Carette 1939 Photo Print (16 x 20)
La Regle du jeu (BFI Film Classics) Paperback
La Regle du Jeu: French Film Guide (Cine-files: the French Film Guides) Paperback
Posterazzi Nora Gregor 1939 Photo Poster Print (16 x 20)



  • Nora Gregor as Christine, Marquise de la Chesnaye
  • Paulette Dubost as Lisette, Christine’s maid
  • Marcel Dalio as Robert, Marquis de la Chesnaye, Christine’s husband and Geneviève’s lover
  • Roland Toutain as André Jurieux, an aviator in love with Christine
  • Jean Renoir as Octave, an old friend of Christine’s and friend of André
  • Mila Parély as Geneviève de Marras, Robert’s lover
  • Julien Carette as Marceau, a poacher and Lisette’s would-be lover
  • Gaston Modot as Edouard Schumacher, Robert’s gamekeeper and Lisette’s husband
  • Anne Mayen as Jackie, a niece of Christine
  • Pierre Magnier as The General, a guest at Robert’s estate
  • Léon Larive as the cook
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson as the English servant
  • Marguerite de Morlaye as a guest
  • Pierre Nay as Monsieur de St. Aubin, a guest at Robert’s estate
  • Richard Francœur as Monsieur La Bruyère, a guest at Robert’s estate
  • Odette Talazac as Madame de la Plante, a guest at Robert’s estate
  • Claire Gérard as Madame de la Bruyère, a guest at Robert’s estate
  • Lise Elina as the radio reporter at the airport
  • Eddy Debray as Corneille, Robert’s butler
  • Géo Forster as the effeminate guest
  • Tony Corteggiani as Monsieur Berthelin, a guest
  • Nicolas Amato as Cava, a guest from South America
  • Jenny Hélia as Germaine, a servant
  • André Zwoboda as André’s engineer at the airport
  • Camille François as a radio reporter (voice)

Directed by Jean Renoir
Produced by Claude Renoir, Jean Jay
Screenplay by Jean Renoir, Carl Koch
Music by Joseph Kosma, Roger Désormière (Musical arrangement)
Cinematography Jean Bachelet
Edited by Marguerite Renoir
Running time 110 minutes
Country France
Language French

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