Jean Renoir

Sog.: dal romanzo None So Blind (1945) di Mitchell Wilson. Scen.: Jean Renoir, Franck Davis. F.: Leo Tover, Harry Wild. M.: Roland Gross, Lyle Boyer. Scgf.: Darrell Silvera, John Sturtevant. Mus.: Hanns Eisler. Int.: Joan Bennett (Peggy Butler), Robert Ryan (Scott Burnett), Charles Bickford (Tod Butler), Nan Leslie (Eve Geddes), Walter Sande (Otto Wernecke), Irene Ryan (Mrs. Wernecke), Glenn Vernon (Kirk), Frank Dorien (Lars), Jay Norris (Jimmy). Prod.: Jack J. Gross per RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 35mm. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The theme is that of solitude, which is one of the greatest preoccupations of our time. Men sickened by our mass-produced civilization are struggling more and more to escape from the crowd. Solitude is the richer for the fact that it does not exist. The void is peopled with ghosts, and they are ghosts from our past. They are very strong; strong enough to shape the present in their image… But a void offers no solid foothold. Realizing the fragility of the thing I was making, I tried to change the story while the film was being shot. The result was a confused scenario leading to a final work which I consider interesting, but which is too obscure for the general public. Nevertheless, Joan Bennett is more beautiful than ever in her ghostlike part, Charles Bickford is moving in his efforts to conquer the void, and the admirable Robert Ryan subtly enabled us to share in his suffering. Hanns Eisler had written a musical score stressing the theme of solitude in which he played counterpoint with his customary talent. To conclude, The Woman on the Beach was the sort of avant-garde film which would have found its niche a quarter of a century earlier, between Nosferatu the Vampire and Caligari… The failure of The Woman on the Beach marked the finish of my Hollywood adventure. I never made another film in an American studio. It was not only that particular failure that was held against me. Darryl Zanuck, who knew something about directors, summed up my case to a group of film-people. “Renoir”, he said, “has a lot of talent, but he’s not one of us”.

Jean Renoir, My Life and My Films, Atheneum, New York 1974


It is a strange film, stubborn, sincere, elusive, obscure. Renoir says that he wanted to portray pure sexual attraction, but between which characters? The sensuality is there certainly, but it goes from one character to another like a mysterious ball of fire. We don’t know exactly where it is. The nightmare is curiously done. It is difficult to tell how much of it is just a typical Hollywood nightmare and how much consists of images really conceived by Renoir. The question is important because the nightmare sets the tone for the film. The hero lives the adventure like a real nightmare.
The ending is curious for its rapid brutality.

André Bazin, Jean Renoir, W.H. Allen, London-New York 1974

Copy From

Courtesy of Park Circus. Restored by the Library of Congress and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation