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Marguerite Renoir

Sidhu, Maya

Best known as Jean Renoir’s film editor and life partner during the 1930s, the career of Marguerite Renoir (née Houllé) before (and after) their collaboration has been largely overlooked, partly due to the scarcity of extant archival materials. Marguerite’s career began at the Pathé Studios of Joinville-le-Pont, where she worked as an apprentice-colorist starting around 1921 (Bertin 1991, 70). Although the Pathé Archives hold no records of Renoir’s early film career, her personal testimony in the professional journal Le Technicien du Film indicates that she became an editor that same year (“L’Actualité” 1960, 4-5). She met famed director Jean Renoir in 1927, while she was working as the editor of Alberto Cavalcanti’s La P’tite Lili (1929), which featured Jean in an uncredited performance and his first wife, Catherine Hessling, in the starring role. Marguerite and Jean’s first collaboration occurred in 1929, when Marguerite edited Jean’s seventh and last silent feature, Le Bled, and the two became romantically involved. Although they never married, Marguerite used Renoir as her name and retained it throughout her career. She is sometimes referred to as Marguerite Houllé-Renoir or Marguerite Mathieu, Mathieu being the name of her husband, the singer Adolphe Mathieu, whom she shot in self-defense in 1948 (“Bagarre sur le palier” 1948, n.p.). After one month in prison, Marguerite was released and continued working as an editor for many celebrated filmmakers (e.g., Jacques Becker, Luis Buñuel, and Jean-Pierre Mocky) until the early 1970s.

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Academic Units
Film
Libraries
Series
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
October 15, 2019