Chotard et Cie

Directed by Jean Renoir.
With Fernand Charpin, Jane Lory, Georges Pomiés.
France, 1933, digital video, black & white, 83 min.
In French with no English subtitles.

Chotard et Cie may be the slightest in the trilogy of obscure-but-worthy early Renoir comedies that includes Tire au flanc and On purge bébé, but it belongs in their company as proof that Renoir could direct not just naturalist drama and social satire but also flat-out farce. When a wealthy greengrocer gets an author for a son-in-law, he is perturbed—until the young man wins the Prix Goncourt. Plans to monetize the young man’s talent come to naught, leading the film to the moral that each must fulfill his or her own destiny. Proof that Renoir never missed a chance to try new things, the film opens with a bravura feat: a complicated tracking shot, over two minutes long, moving from close-up to deep focus and from the street into Chotard’s shop.

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