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  • This is a fairly good effort, nothing to get excited over but certainly not bad. The floor polisher skit seems more like a play than something you would see in a movie. It is almost neurotic, maybe not something a lot of American viewers would seek out. I wouldn't pay money for this movie. The poor couple arouse your sympathy only in that poverty is disturbing. But their love for each other almost, not alienates the viewer, but they have each other so you feel less sorry for them than you would if they were alone and hungry. The food looked quite good in the restaurant. The last piece is the strongest and the one I felt most emotionally connected to. The maid was rather annoying as she was hamming it up and not particularly modest. But it was a well directed piece, and you couldn't help but feel for the older husband who was making the best of his situation. He was a real trooper. It would have been a good premise for a murder mystery. The Little Theatre is probably best viewed as a way to get to know Jean Renoir.
  • That was to be Renoir's last work.Renoir,as anyone past infancy should know,was one of the greatest names of the French cinema.Oddly his last work was MTV:even stranger the copy I own is "letterbox" .This format was not used for MTV films before the nineties.

    A film made up of sketches,which was more his colleague Julien Duvivier's field.This is a spotty minor work.The director himself appears (but he does not play ,as he did,in notably "la Règle du Jeu" ) and presents,a la Sacha Guitry ,his stories and his actors.The presence of a theater in miniature is not unlike the beginning of his 1931 masterwork "La Chienne" .

    Segment one:"Le Dernier Réveillon" or back to Andersen;during the silent era,one of Renoir's best achievements was his stunning treatment of HC Andersen's "La Petite Fille aux Allumettes" .This short is a modern update of the tale.Average.

    Segment two:"La Cireuse Electrique" or down with modern technology!This sketch is marred by frequent appearances of a (Greek?) chorus singing appalling tunes ,recalling the worst musical parts of René Clair's comedies of the early thirties such as "Le Million".And however the sketch -you can use your fast forward button for the "songs"- is probably the best of the lot.Marguerite Cassan is very funny as the perfect housewife (a Stepford one?) whose only love seems to be her floor,and whose only desire is to own a floor polisher.When her hubby comes back from work with a promotion,her only thought is that being richer,they can afford that domestic appliance.

    Actually the segment displays Renoir's disgust for modern life ,for new ideas (also blatant in the first sketch),for revolution (this was made two years after 1968).It's surprising that the same man did "La Chienne" "Boudu Sauvé des Eaux" or "Le Crime de Monsieur Lange" .

    Segment three : "Quand l'Amour Meurt" or Intermezzo.Jeanne Moreau sings one song .Not really exciting.

    Segment four: "Le Roi D'Yvetot" or back to Marcel Pagnol.In 1934,Renoir made "Toni " ,a film produced by Pagnol with the Provençal director's actors.This final segment is updated Pagnol : besides,Fernand Sardou resembles Raimu -whom Renoir never directed-,and the story revolves around Pétanque and Ménage à Trois.It never really takes off.

    Although he was always praised by the Cahiers du Cinema,Renoir's decline was obvious in the sixties and "Le Petit Theatre" is finally a disappointment after such a brilliant career.
  • writers_reign15 June 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Eight years after shooting his last film for the big screen Renoir shot this for TV so whichever way you look at it it was his swansong and it's a shame he couldn't have gone out on a higher note. Renoir introduces each of the four segments talking directly to camera, a technique first employed by Somerset Maugham in 1948 when he introduced four of his short stories in the portmanteau movie Quartet. The first segment smacks of O'Henry (who had, of course, had his own portmanteau in Full House), the second is a sketch that Renoir allows to go on too long and the third is a tad bizarre. Renoir shoots a static Jeanne Moreau as she stands centre stage and sings a maudlin song. Not a lot wrong here but we do find ourselves wondering what point if any he was trying to make. Obviously Renoir scholars and completists will want to see this but it really is unremarkable.