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Rules of the Game

(French 1939 b 106')

En: 7 Ed: 8


At a country estate aristocrats and servants deal with jealousy and changing partnerships.

Pilot André Jurieu (Roland Toutain) lands in Paris after flying across the Atlantic in record time; but he is sad because Octave (Jean Renoir) tells him Christine is not there. Christine de la Chesnaye (Nora Gregor) asks her maid Lisette Schumacher (Paulette Dubost) about her men. Christine tells her husband, Marquis Robert de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio), she trusts him, and he talks with his mistress Genevieve de Marrast (Mila Parély). André drives his car off the road, and Octave complains, saying society has rules. André says he loves Christine. Octave calls on Christine and asks her to invite André. Octave offers to help Robert with Genevieve and asks him also to invite André. Octave chases Lisette.

Robert arrives at his country estate. Edouard Schumacher (Gaston Modot) catches Marceau (Julien Carette) poaching a rabbit; but Robert hires Marceau to kill rabbits. Robert greets Genevieve, and Christine welcomes André. Christine explains to guests her friendship with André. Servant Marceau meets Schumacher's wife Lisette. Robert thanks Christine, who tells Lisette she wants children. A moving line of servants flushes out rabbits and pheasants for the aristocrats to shoot. André kisses Christine's niece Jackie but says he does not love her. Robert tells Genevieve he no longer loves her; he kisses her good-bye, and Christine sees them.

Genevieve packs, but Christine persuades her to stay. Marceau polishes shoes and chases Lisette. Schumacher comes in and grabs Marceau. Octave can't get out of a bearskin. Marceau and Robert discuss women troubles. Christine tells André that she loves him. André wants to tell Robert, but Christine asks why. Robert entertains. Schumacher tells Lisette they are quitting to be together, and Schumacher chases Marceau. Robert finds André with Christine and hits him. Christine tells Octave that André spoke of rules. Genevieve asks Robert when they are leaving, but he gets upset. Octave recalls the past with Christine. Schumacher tries to shoot Marceau, but Lisette interferes. Robert orders majordomo Corneille (Eddy Debray) to control Schumacher. Robert dismisses Schumacher for shooting, but Lisette plans to stay. So Robert lets Marceau go too. Octave tells Christine that André is helpless on the ground. Christine asks Lisette about Robert's mistress. Octave says everyone lies in modern society.

Outside Marceau and Schumacher commiserate. Octave and Christine walk by, and she tells Octave that she loves him; they plan to leave. Schumacher and Marceau think Christine is Lisette, who tells Octave that Christine needs money. So Octave tells André that Christine is waiting for him. Robert notes that Octave loves Christine too. Schumacher shoots André, and Marceau reports that André is dead. Octave kisses Lisette good-bye, and Lisette kisses Marceau. Robert announces that Schumacher shot André by accident, and the General (Pierre Magnier) says that Robert has rare class.

This comedy satirizes French morals, changing relationships, and class distinctions. Only aristocrats are allowed to kill rabbits; but a servant kills a suspected rival like a rabbit, though the Marquis covers it up as an accident.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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