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  • Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir (The Golden Coach / French Cancan / Elena and Her Men) (The Criterion Collection)
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Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir (The Golden Coach / French Cancan / Elena and Her Men) (The Criterion Collection)

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Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir (The Golden Coach / French Cancan / Elena and Her Men) (The Criterion Collection) + Jean Renoir (Whirlpool of Fate / Nana / Charleston Parade / The Little Match Girl / La Marseillaise / The Doctor's Horrible Experiment / The Elusive Corporal) (Three-Disc Collector's Edition) + La Bete Humaine (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Magnani, Odoardo Spadaro, Nada Fiorelli, Jean Gabin, Françoise Arnoul
  • Directors: David Thompson, Jean Renoir
  • Writers: Jean Renoir, André-Paul Antoine, Ginette Doynel, Giulio Macchi, Jack Kirkland
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 307 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00026L75E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,392 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Stage and Spectacle: Three Films by Jean Renoir (The Golden Coach / French Cancan / Elena and Her Men) (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Three films, all with new digital transfers with restored music and sound, and improved subtitles:
  • The Golden Coach, 1953, 103 minutes with introduction by Jean Renoir
  • French Cancan, 1955, 105 minutes
  • Elena and her Men, 1956, 95 minutes with introduction by Jean Renoir
  • Bonus Features include:
  • Video introductions by filmmakers Martin Scorsese Peter Bogdanovich
  • Jean Renoir: Hollywood and Beyond, part two of the BBC documentary by David Thompson
  • Three-part interview with Renoir conducted by French New Wave director Jacques Riveted
  • Exclusive interview with set designer Max Douy
  • Galleries of production photos
  • New essays by Jonathan Rosenbaum, Andrew Sarris and historian Christopher Faulkner

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Near the end of his long and celebrated career, master filmmaker Jean Renoir indulged his lifelong obsession with life-as-theater and directed The Golden Coach (1953), French Cancan (1955), and Elena and Her Men (1956), three delirious films, infatuated with the past, love, and artifice. Awash in jubilant Technicolor, each film interweaves public display and private feelings through the talents of three immortal film icons#Anna Magnani, Jean Gabin, and Ingrid Bergman. The Criterion Collection is proud to present these three majestic films by Jean Renoir for the first time on DVD.

These three Jean Renoir films were not conceived as a trilogy, but they fit beautifully together in this Criterion package: all luscious with theatrical color, wry in tone, and awestruck by beautiful women. When Renoir returned to Europe after his wartime exile in Hollywood, he first turned to The Golden Coach (1953), an international co-production shot in Rome. It contains all of Renoir's love of the theatrical life, as a traveling troupe of actors arrives in a colonial town in South America, and the leading lady (lightning-quick Anna Magnani) bewitches her many suitors--yet knows she is most brilliantly alive when she is on stage. The film was shot in multiple languages; this is the English, which Renoir preferred.

French Cancan is perhaps the greatest backstage movie ever made. Jean Gabin plays a stage impresario of the 1880s (surely a stand-in for Renoir himself), hatching a plan to revive the naughty can-can and school a young ingenue (Francoise Arnoul) in the rigors of art and life. With 1956's Elena and Her Men, Renoir relies on the effortless beauty of Ingrid Bergman, as a Polish princess juggling devotees (including Jean Marais as a smitten general, for whom love trumps politics every time). While not a woman of the theater, Elena understands the value of putting on a show.

The Criterion box is an authoritative pleasure (including the pretty packaging), featuring best-possible visual transfers. Excellent archival introductions to Elena and Golden Coach are delivered by Renoir himself, shot sometime in the 1960s; Peter Bogdanovich provides a solid 10-minute talk on Cancan. A one-hour-plus, three-part Renoir interview, conducted by New Wave filmmaker-critic Jacques Rivette, is spread across all three discs; Renoir is in fascinating, aphoristic form ("Intelligence is terrible. It makes us do stupid things"). Part of an informative BBC documentary, Jean Renoir: Hollywood and Beyond, is bundled with Elena. Essays by the likes of Andrew Sarris and Jonathan Rosenbaum provide context for Renoir's celebratory but unsparing look at the intersection of Art and Life. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Toshifumi Fujiwara on January 4, 2005
The three color films that mark Jean Renoir's return to Europe might be surprising compared to his classics 30's films like RULES OF THE GAME, LA BETE HUMAINE, TONI or GRAND ILLUSION, with which Renoir became prominent as a master of realism. For instance, always preferring to shoot on location rather than in studio environments (TONI was one of the first major sound motion picture to be entrely shot on location with direct sound recording; a revolution at the time).

THE GOLDEN COACH, FRENCH CANCAN and ELENA AND HER MEN are deliberately artificial, stylized, and burlesque. Note for instance the framings in THE GOLDEN COACH, in which Claude Renoir's camera is consciously and carefully placed to achieve symmetrical compositions. In comparison to the moving camera techniques of GRAND ILLUSION and RULES OF THE GAME that allowed him to capture the actions without missing the many crucial details in one, continuous long take, these three films (especially COACH and ELENA) may look very static. The acting style is also very much over the top.

One of the supplements, the Jacques Rivette's interview, in which Renoir repeatingly insists that "truth" or "reality" can be only achieved through artifice and artifacts of the artistic medium, is extremely revealing about Renoir's changing his style, and that though the apparent style has changed, his philosophy about filmmaking is remarkably consistent.

These three films are also created as comedies, though the contents are some of the most serious themes treated in cinema, and have a lot to do with cinema itself as a performing/representational art form. For each of the three films is profound analysis about performing in human life. FRENCH CANCAN is about the nature of performers, and the difficulties of that profession.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 5, 2004
French Cancan, one of three Renoir films packaged by Criterion as Stage and Spectacle, is a marvelous movie. The story is simple but the execution is amazing. A Belle Epoque impresario, down on his financial luck, is going to open a new club, the Moulin Rouge, with a new dance, the French cancan. He encounters a working girl and makes her a dancer. She'll become a star. There are several crises to overcome before that happens.

The movie is Jean Renoir's tribute to show business, and he puts it on the screen with color, verve, humor, and humanity. There are wonderful performances by all the actors. The leads are Jean Gabin as Henri Danglard, the impresario; Francoise Arnoul as Nini, the girl who'll become a star; and Maria Felix as Lola de Castro, an overwhelmingly tempestuous beauty and Danglard's lover at the start. Gabin exudes confidence, worldly humor and dedication to show business. He even dances a bit. Arnoul is first rate, too. It looks like she was doing her own dances, and as an actress think of a young Leslie Caron with brains and charm.

The climax of the movie is the opening of the club, with Felix's star dance, comic songs, a whistler, a Danglar-discovered singer, all moving toward the introduction of the French cancan. The crises happen and are resolved. Then the cancan explodes. Dancing girls come bursting out from the stage, the front of the theater, through posters, down ropes from the balcony. The house swirls with the black tie and tails of the swells and the garish colors of the dancers' gowns. The cancan number lasts probably ten or fifteen minutes or so, all music and gaiety, all high kicks and splits.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Flipper Campbell VINE VOICE on August 25, 2004
Early this year, Criterion issued the definitive DVD of Jean Renoir's 1939 classic "The Rules of the Game." Now, the label lightens up with "Stage and Spectacle," a boxed set that makes a trilogy out of the splashy Technicolor films Renoir made upon returning to Europe in the mid-1950s.

Renoir was in a mood to party. He'd survived an unhappy decade exiled in the Hollywood studio system. The director felt liberated, much like his homeland, France.

And so we have two bawdy celebrations of life and theater: "The Golden Coach," starring life force Anna Magnani (1953), and "French Cancan," a snappy and wise backstage comedy (1955). "Elena and Her Men" (1956) exudes romance with Ingrid Bergman as a savvy and desirable Polish princess toying with French politics. Plots are thin; spirits are high. All of the films are filled with boisterous, dizzying crowd scenes.

"The frames remind me of his father's paintings," Martin Scorsese says in an introduction to "Coach." "It's like standing in the presence of a great fresco and being overwhelmed. ... The use of color is extraordinary."

Alas, Renoir's palette has withered. All of these (restored) films show their age. Witness the sustained flashing in "Coach," abrupt shifts in color tone in "Elena" and the oddly bleached-out scenes in "Cancan." But making allowances, the visuals remain magnificent, memorable. The films are all full frame. Mono audio is bright and serviceable.

Renoir, who died in 1979, loved talking about his work. Clips of him are featured throughout the DVD set. The filmmaker sits with new wave director Jacques Rivette for a subtitled interview -- a monologue, really -- that's spread across the three DVDs. It's a terrific but long-winded lecture on the craft of filmmaking.
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