The Diary of a Chambermaid

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Renoir.
With Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, Francis Lederer.
US, 1946, 35mm, black & white, 86 min.
Print source: HFA

Still not having any success with the studios, Renoir’s fourth Hollywood film was an independent production that hearkened back to his love of French naturalist literature.  Renoir had long wanted to adapt Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel, which details the decadence of the upper classes as observed by their cynical servants. If the material seems close to The Rules of the Game,the filmmaker took an approach diametrically opposed to the realism of the earlier film. Shooting everything—even exteriors—on soundstage sets, the result is another example of the director’s use of theatricality to give his material an uncanny edge. The use of the soundstage also allows Renoir to indulge his love of the highly mobile camera.

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