T. it.: La cagna Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Georges de La Fourchardière. Scen.: Jean Renoir. F.: Theodor Sparkuhl. M.: Paul Fejos, Denise Batcheff, Jean Renoir, Marguerite Renoir. Scgf.: Gabriel Scognamillo. Int.: Michel Simon (Maurice Legrand), Janie Marèse (Lucienne Pelletier, detta Lulu), Magdeleine Bérubet (Adèle Legrand), Georges Flamant (André Joguin, detto Dédé), Roger Gaillard (Alexis Godard). Prod.: Pierre Braunberger, Roger Richebé per Les Établissements Braunberger-Richebé DCP. D.: 96′. Bn.
A cashier for a knitwear company and an amateur painter, Legrand has […] two ‘faces’, a public one and a private one, before even meeting Lulu (whose name, like Pabst’s Lulu and von Sternberg’s Lola Lola, phonetically foretells the idea of a double, as if these characters held up a mirror to men). Unlike Doctor Jekyll, Legrand is not motivated by scientific or metaphysical ambition but solely by his sensitivity. This is the true subject of Renoir’s film. The difference/division between the two personalities of Hyde and Jekyll is the main figure of La Chienne. Renoir proves to be systematic down to the smallest detail; starting with the character of Legrand, the film multiplies duplications, divisions, splitting and reflections of various kinds. Division affects the innermost lives of the characters: Lulu takes on the pseudonym of Clara Wood and is the lover of two men; Legrand when later homeless sees his reflection in the face of Alexis Godard, who too is homeless. Legrand is ‘divided’ between Adèle and Lulu, Lulu between Legrand and Dédé, Adèle constantly compares Legrand to Godard, Dédé splits his time between Lulu’s room and the café with his friends. Before the murder, Lulu asks Dédé to leave Paris, to travel; Legrand will use the same proposal on her. Dédé tells Lulu that “sleeping” with her is not “fun” for him; afterwards Lulu will use the same terms with Legrand. After Dédé’s departure, Lulu lies down diagonally on the bed, prefiguring the position of her dead body. […] One space makes a meaningful reappearance: the square with steps where Legrand and Lulu meet is the same one that Legrand crosses alone (and in the rain) after discovering the truth about Lulu and Dédé. Hyde’s personality replaces Jekyll’s. And not by chance this type of substitution is the dramatic force driving La Chienne.
Jean-Louis Leutrat, La Chienne de Jean Renoir, Éditions Yellow Now, Crisnée 1994