Released in that glittery movie year of 1939 (along with Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz), The Rules of the Game was received as such a disaster that Renoir made major cuts. A 2004 Criterion release featured a restored version, but this new iteration, on DVD and Blu-Ray, is cleaner.
The wonderful features include Renoir’s video introduction from the 1960’s, explaining his inspiration from Beaumarchais and Moliere, and his dismay at the catcalls when the film premiered. And in a half-hour, 1966 television program, Renoir is interviewed by Jacques Rivette.
But best of all there is the film, a supremely witty and sad meditation on love and class, starring Renoir himself, with one of the wisest lines in movie history: “The terrible thing is, everyone has their reasons.”