ⓘ La Chienne

La Chienne

ⓘ La Chienne

La Chienne is a 1931 French film by director Jean Renoir. It is the second sound film by the director and the twelfth film of his career. The literal English translation of the films title is "The Bitch", although the movie was never released under this title. It is often referred to in English as Isnt Life a Bitch? The film was remade by Fritz Lang in the United States as Scarlet Street.

La Chienne was released by The Criterion Collection on both Blu-ray and DVD, newly restored in 4K, on 14 June 2016.


1. Plot

Maurice Legrand Michel Simon, a meek cashier and aspirant painter, is miserably married to Adele, an abusive woman who mistreats him. After a celebration in the company where he works, Maurice stumbles upon a man called Andre "Dede" Jauguin Georges Flamant hitting a young woman called Lucienne "Lulu" Pelletier Janie Marese on the street. Maurice protects Lulu and brings her home. Lulu, who is a prostitute, tells the naive Maurice that Dede is her brother, but Dede is actually her pimp. Maurice rents an apartment for Lulu and she becomes his mistress. Soon he brings his paintings to the apartment, since his wife Adele intends to throw them away. But Dede sells the paintings to an art dealer for a large amount, telling the dealer that Lulu had painted them using the alias Clara Wood. When Maurice stumbles upon Adeles former husband who was supposedly killed in the War, he plots a scheme to get rid of Adele. He succeeds in his intent, only to discover Lulu and Dede in bed during the night. Shocked, he leaves, but returns in the morning to talk to Lulu. She confesses that she loves Dede and humiliates Maurice, saying that the only reason she stayed with him was his money. Maurice attacks her with a knife and leaves the apartment with no witnesses. Dede arrives moments later and discovers Lulus body. Dede is blamed for Lulus death owing to his reputation, and he is executed. Maurice becomes a vagrant.


2. Cast in credits order

  • Marcel Courmes as Colonel
  • Colette Borelli as Lily
  • Henri Guisol as Amedee
  • Marthe Doryans as Yvonne
  • Sylvain Itkine as Dedes lawyer
  • Lucien Mancini as Wallstein
  • Christian Argentin as Examining judge
  • Romain Bouquet as Henriot
  • Janie Marese as Lucienne Lulu Pelletier
  • Jane Pierson as the Concierge
  • Michel Simon as Maurice Legrand
  • Magdeleine Berubet as Adele Legrand
  • Alexandre Rignault as Langelarde
  • Max Dalban as Bernard
  • Jean Gehret as Dugodet
  • Georges Flamant as Andre Dede Jauguin
  • Pierre Desty as Gustave
  • Roger Gaillard as Sergeant Alexis Godard

3. Production and aftermath

In the film Michel Simon falls in love with Janie Marese, and he did off-screen as well, while Marese fell for Georges Flamant, who plays the pimp. Renoir and producer Pierre Braunberger had encouraged the relationship between Flamant and Marese in order to get the fullest conviction into their performances La Chienne was Flamants first acting experience. After the film had been completed Flamant, who could barely drive, took Marese for a drive, crashed the car and she was killed. At the funeral Michel Simon fainted and had to be supported as he walked past the grave. He threatened Renoir with a gun, saying that the death of Marese was all his fault. "Kill me if you like", responded Renoir, "but I have made the film".


4. Home media

On 23 October 2003 La Chienne was released on DVD in France by Opening Distribution, along with Renoirs On purge bebe 1931, Tire-au-flanc 1928, and Catherine 1924, as part of a box set. The film was later released together with Renoirs Partie de campagne A Day in the Country by M6 Video on both Blu-ray and DVD in France on 10 November 2015.

La Chienne was released in North America on LaserDisc in 1989 by Image Entertainment as part of the "CinemaDisc Collection". The film was also released on VHS by Kino International on 5 February 2002, which includes Partie de campagne as an extra. On 14 June 2016 American video-distribution company The Criterion Collection released La Chienne, newly restored through a 4K digital transfer, on Blu-ray and DVD. Both editions include a 1961 introduction to the film by director Jean Renoir, a new interview with a Renoir scholar, a new restoration of Renoirs On purge bebe, a 95-minute conversation between Renoir and actor Michel Simon directed by Jacques Rivette, new English subtitles for the film, and an essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau. The new Blu-ray and DVD cover as well as interior poster was illustrated by Blutch.

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  • solfeando 1930 : La Femme d une nuit 1931 : La donna di una notte 1931 : On purge bebe 1931 : La Chienne 1931 : Salto Mortale 1931 : American Love 1933 :
  • published her debut solo album Chienne d un seul, which she performed on stage during the first part of her husband s tour, La Tournee des grands espaces
  • d honneur. He is buried at Issy. La Louve by entrance to the Garden of the Grand Rond in Toulouse. La Chienne by entrance to the Garden of the
  • Bataclan 1989 live 1991: Sagesse du fou 1995: Passer ma route 1996: Chienne de route live 1996: 12 nouvelles de Brassens Petits bonheurs posthumes
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