The Popular Front years
in Jean Renoir
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During the mid-1930s, Jean Renoir made a decisive move towards the political left. This chapter follows the Popular Front's fortunes through the mood of Renoir's films: the radical upcurve before and immediately after electoral triumph (Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, La Vie est à nous and Les Bas-fonds), a tame downcurve as the Popular Front fragmented and lost all momentum (La Marseillaise) and post-Frontist despondency as gains were clawed back (La Bête humaine) culminating after Munich in an embittered assault on a society unwilling to renew or defend itself (La Règle du jeu). Le Crime de Monsieur Lange was made during the heady early days of the Popular Front and brought Renoir together with the radical leftwing theatre company. If Une Partie de campagne and Les Bas-fonds are considered together, the more broadly progressive of the two films is the more regressive in gender terms.

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