I must admit, the first time I saw this film, one of the great Jean Renoir’s from his American period films—having already seen Luis Buñuel’s 1964 version—I was somewhat disappointed. While Buñuel accentuated the bizarre and dark aspects of Mirbeau’s eerie fiction, Renoir seemed to be trying the convert the perverse series of events that occur to an ambitious chambermaid, into a comedy. Indeed the casting of the light-hearted Paulette Goddard as Célestine, and the overt comedy actors Burgess Meredith (who had also written the screenplay) and Irene Ryan—both long-time American studio character actors—appeared to remove this work from any of the horror-like elements of the original. Renoir’s version, as most critics have agreed, looks forward to his later works, in which artifice and theatricality definitely dominated. Moreover, The Diary of a Chambermaid often has the look and feel of a studio product. The French, in particular, perceived this Renoir work, despite the master’s reputation, as the product of an exile who had rejected the very qualities, the perverse, satiric humor, that the French literary work had made famous.