Critics seem to assume a dehistoricised and homogenised America that is
somehow the antithesis of France. Perhaps this is because 'Renoir
américain' was seen on European screens when the cold war was raging
and the world seemed polarised between two monolithic blocs. This chapter
retains Christopher Faulkner's notion of the ideological shift in Jean
Renoir but suggests a more complex toing and froing before Frontist values
are finally abandoned. Renoir experienced the United States as a refuge, a
haven of freedom in a world where freedom was increasingly in short supply.
The chapter suggests that Swamp Water and The Southerner can
be seen as an outsider's engagement with myths of America. This Land
is Mine and Diary of a Chambermaid, while noticeably inflected by
Hollywood, have clear links to Renoir's Popular Front films. The
Woman on the Beach and The River show men psychologically or
physically maimed by the fighting.