F O U RBurgess Meredith and his then-wife, Paulette Goddard.
These two films were conceivedas instructive pieces for Allied troops and French citizens, respectively, to illustrate that“America admires and respects France and that our troops enter French territory asfriends and liberators” (Bergstrom 46).
Together with writer/director Garson Kanin andwriter/actor Meredith, Renoir simultaneously filmed the English and French versions.
Each dramatized Franco-Anglo-American ties among three soldiers of differingnationalities who arrive at the conclusion they are all working toward the same greatgoal, with no country being superior to another (Bergstrom 46). Renoir only directed; thefilms were edited down by others into much shorter final versions (“Saluting France” 54).Janet Bergstrom and Brett Bowles have both detailed the major and minorconflicts over the course of the project to demonstrate the unique role these twopropaganda films played in Renoir’s career. Though
à la France
was brieflyreleased in France
right after the liberation, its “sunny portrait of tri-national solidarity”bore no trace of “catastrophic collateral damage inflicted during the liberation of northeast France” by the British and US forces (Bowles 65). Bergstrom and Bowlesmaintain that this comparatively minor project remains important both as a means to
She had previously been married to one of Renoir’s idols, Charlie Chaplin.
Bergstrom 46. Also see Brett Bowles “Jean Renoir’s
Salut à la France
: Documentary FilmProduction, Distribution, and Reception in France, 1944-45.”
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
26.1 (2006): 57-86, 60.
The producer, Philip Dunne, recalled that the “English and French scenes were directed oneright after the other […] Kanin directed the English version and Renoir the French version […]. Infact, Renoir ended up directing both versions.” Cf. Bergstrom 47-48.
Bowles’s research finds very limited screenings for the film; it is likely that “it probablyreached an audience of no more than 75, 000” 61.