Bergan, Ronald. "Everyone Has His Reasons." Jean Renoir: Projections of Paradise. Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 1994: 196-206.
In this chapter, Ronald Bergan goes into detail on Jean Renoir's influences for Rules of the Game. For starters, he explains that Renoir kept several elements from the original, Les Caprices de Marianne. Before writing his script, Renoir also drew from other Musset works as well as French baroque music. Bergan believes that these sources, as well as the political events surrounding Renoir, allowed him to create such a unique style in Rules of the Game - one that neatly combined "melodrama and farce" (198). Bergan emphasizes the importance of the hunting scene in the film which shows the "callous cruelty of the guests" and provides the most explicitly violent critique of French bourgeois society (203). Bergan makes a point to note the animosity between (and among) both the upper and lower classes as the solidarity of the Popular Front is now gone. While the prejudice and snobbery of the ruling class is blatantly on display, their critiqued behaviors are echoed by their servants. Bergan also explains Renoir's use of deep-focused lenses, stating that such far-reaching shots were necessary to gather all of the actions taking place in such a dynamic ensemble production. Quick shots and heavy editing would simply not show the interworkings of society that the deep, long shots are capable of. Bergan concludes his chapter by providing some explanation for the harsh critiques that Rules of the Game received by the public upon its release: at the time, Renoir was a known supporter of the Communist Party. Also, his casting provoked "right-wing, anti-semitic and xenophobic emotions" (205).
This article is extremely interesting as Ronald Bergan is able to list several stylistic influences on Renoir in writing Rules of the Game. Instead of focusing on the thematic influences such as the Munich agreement, as other critics have done, Bergan is able to hone in on specific tricks peformed by Renoir, often unorthodox, to inspire his story, such as listening to Baroque music. This offers an alternate view of Jean Renoir in which he is drawing from each and every source in his life to fuel a powerfully creative, though extremely accurate, tale of the world around him. Bergan also details the remarkable accomplishment of, in essence, creating the long shot in Rules of the Game. This huge triumph is usually overshadowed by the negative French public opinion of the film. Bergan, however, explains several concrete reasons as to why the film was met with such criticism by initial audiences. Firstly, Renoir's ties with the Communist Party would have pitted a great deal of Frenchmen against him from the start, especially after observing somet type of critique of French society. Fear of communism, especially in the current situation in Europe, could have easily allowed Rules of the Game to come off as Jean Renoir's attempt at French communist propaganda. Also, the stars of his film included a Jewish man and an Austrian woman, clearly stirring the hatred of the prejudiced and also confusing the public, in such a time of national fragility, that Renoir would even think of using possible 'enemies' to portray the French, especially in a critique.
Tifft, Stephen. "Drôle De Guerre: Renoir, Farce, and the Fall of France." Representations.38 (1992): 131-65.
In his article, Stephen Tifft argues the direct relationship between the political events of Europe in the 1930s and the events and themes present in Renoir's Rules of the Game. He remarks on Renoir's use of farce to provide a harsh criticism of upper-class French society and the risks that accompany this choice. Tifft lists the dangers that accompany Renoir's choice of employing comedy in his political arguments; one such danger helps explain the negative reception of the film among the French community as Renoir's audience took immediate offense to his harsh critiques. By imbedding his political beliefs in comedy, Renoir could have given the wrong impression to the public: that he was fed up with French culture and wished merely to insult the offenders. At such a fragile time in French society, such a blatant stab at culture proved disastrous and Tifft goes into great detail about the horrendous initial reception of Renoir's film. Tifft also makes the argument that Renoir's film is concerned, directly, with the conflict in Munich at the time of the script's writing. Tifft lists several examples for this rationale including the relation between the 'Four-Power Pact' of real-life Europe and the conflicts existing between the film's characters. He also analyzes the famous hunt scene, primarily for its critique of reckless aristocratic behavior that leaves helpless members of society at the mercy of the powerful. Tifft also praises Renoir's combination of history and farce in a manner that would both draw from and influence the society it is a part of.
In this article, Tifft gives a very convincing argument to directly correlate the social and political events in 1930s Europe with Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game. Tifft provides alot of evidence, tied to specific scenes in the film, to show that a character's actions were meant to mirror an element of popular culture. With such an abundance of information, readers do not have to wholeheartedly agree with each of Tifft's points, but rather have plenty of evidence to pick and choose for themselves which aspects from Rules of the Game, if any, were directly influenced by real life events. Tifft also analyzes the film as a farce, making it easier to separate important stylistic elements of the film from mere moments of comedy.
Stanley Cavell’s essay provides an in-depth analysis of various aspects of Bringing Up Baby, ranging from the significance of the repetitive dialogue to the meaning of the embrace at the end of the film. The first part of Cavell’s work focuses mainly on this repetition of dialogue and action throughout the film. Cavell argues that the repetition of these two elements results in double entendres that remain unnoticed by the characters but are comedic for the audience. Citing such examples of the repetition of the word “bone,” for example, Cavell believes that the film’s events can be read as is or as a sexual allegory. This resulting ambiguity can seemingly be attributed to the strict standards of the Production Code of the time, which required the development of a new cinematic language to express sexuality or “inappropriateness.”
The second part of Cavell’s analysis focuses on the ending embrace between Dr. Huxley and Susan. Cavell argues that the embrace must symbolize something as it is noticeably awkward: “one cannot determine whether the pair’s lips are touching” (282), and it takes place in the museum where the film originally began. Interestingly, Cavell believes that this final embrace is a reenactment of Rodin’s The Kiss, and thus questions whether or not Huxley has really changed from the beginning scene. With this in mind, Cavell also discusses the validation of marriage within the context of the film, stating that the repetition of certain elements within the film seems to indicate that marriage cannot be validated from the “outside,” and thus, the characters work to “move directly to the state of reaffirmation” (288), which is ultimately a source of comedy.
The last part of Cavell’s essay examines Bringing Up Baby as a farce. Cavell argues that although the film exhibits many farcical elements such as allusions to other films and has its origins in vaudeville, it is still, oddly, a very self-conscious film.
This article, though full of great commentary on Bringing Up Baby is a bit difficult to read without first reading Cavell’s article titled “Pursuits of Happiness: A Reading of the Lady Eve,” found in Vol 10, No. 3 of New Literary History pp.581-601.