Archive for October 3, 2016

The Judex-Files: Prologue

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2016 by dcairns

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Time I did another serial here. Opted to do a GOOD one. Louis Feuillade’s JUDEX somehow escaped getting watched by me previously, maybe because Georges Franju somewhat dissed it by saying he preferred FANTOMAS and only made his own remake of the mysterious crime-fighter’s adventures because he couldn’t get the rights to those if the mysterious crime-commiter. But then, he DID choose to remake it, so he must have liked it a bit, yes?

Anyway, I’m 100 years late to the party, as usual, but here goes…

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But JUDEX has all the charm you’d expect from its maker, with colossal old jalopies, elegant theatrical blocking, and Musidora skulking about under assumed names. Plus it has a slightly less episodic approach, with slow-burn plotlines set up in an elaborate prologue like a Victorian novel. A slightly daft Victorian novel, possibly, but a very constructed one, unlike the near-independent chapters of FANTOMAS and sequels.

Part one details the misdeeds of a nasty banker, who has a nice daughter and grandson. We meet various aggrieved parties, are introduced to the mystery of the old jailbird’s missing son, and the banker starts getting threatening letters, signed JUDEX. He hires a detective with an amusing comedy face and an un-amusing comedy sidekick. And then he drops dead of an apparent embolism.

“Where is this going?” 1916 audiences may have asked. And I did too, but none of us could stop watching…

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Star of the prologue is undoubtedly consulting detective Marcel Levesque. The banker is drawn to an ad in the paper representing a super-sleuth combining the best features of Auguste Dupin, Mandrake the Magician and Tarzan. But what he gets is this weedy figure reminiscent of James Finlayson, only without the machismo. I warmed to Levesque at once, even as he presides, as bodyguard, over the immediate death of his client. I’m sure his success rate will improve as the show goes on…

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To be continued…

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