DVD Review: Jean Renoir’s path to greatness began with La Chienne

In 1931, with a handful of silent shorts and features under his belt, director Jean Renoir made a tentative transition to sound cinema with “On Purge Bébé,” a broad comedy about an upper-class household put on edge by a constipated child. The 45-minute film isn’t that funny; and Renoir himself has said that he only took the job to prove to the bankers that he could deliver a profitable product. But in an interview on Criterion’s new Blu-ray of Renoir’s full-length 1931 film La Chienne (which also contains “On Purge Bébé” as a bonus feature), scholar Christopher Faulkner says the French master quickly realized the possibilities of sound, even while cranking out a thudding farce. Later in the decade, Renoir would establish his place in the pantheon with Boudu Saved From Drowning, Grand Illusion, The Rules Of The Game, and “A Day In The Country,” all of …

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