The Sunday Intertitle: The Judex Files

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Suddenly realised I don’t want to write a weekly piece about JUDEX, because I don’t want to watch an episode a week, I want to DEVOUR it. So I think I’ll accelerate the pace.

Now read on.

In Episode 1, the characters we met in the Prologue continue their narratives, even the evil banker, who died. It turns out he’s now a prisoner of mysterious crime-fighter Judex, played by the glowering, hawk-faced René Casté. As Batman has his Robin, Judex has his brother Roger. A curious mismatch of names. What were their parents thinking? Does Roger envy his brother’s cool name?

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The bros inhabit a ruined castle where they have constructed a high-tech HQ — it has a telephone and radiators and stuff. Their prisoner can be observed in his cell using a moving mirror. As the plot has it, Judex drugged the banker with a chemical whose effects imitate a fatal embolism, then stole him from his grave, revived him, and planned to kill him again, but because the banker’s daughter has given the family’s ill-gotten fortune to charity, he commutes the death sentence to life imprisonment. Judex’s brand of solitary confinement seems like a punishment worse than death.

This episode features an exciting phone call from the dead — a seemingly supernatural occurrence immediately explained away by flashback. Judex has the banker phone his daughter to apologise for his sins — of course, this terrifies the poor woman, having dead dad ring up in the middle of the night. Judex needs to work on his people skills.

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Meanwhile, villainous Diana Monti – the sultry Musidora — and Morales, her jailbird associate, begin plans to abduct the banker’s daughter, ostensibly at the service of a smitten young man who’s been taking piano lessons from her, but really to serve some mysterious agenda of their own.

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Also, in this week’s exciting episode: pigeons!

We still haven’t met the mysterious figure listed in the credits as The Liquorice Kid.

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5 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: The Judex Files”

  1. Pigeons are of course what most attracted Franju to Judex

  2. Yes, I’m surprised Tony Scott or John Woo never did their own remake.

  3. In his superb book on Franju (alas long out of print) the great Raymond Durgnat notes how sympathetic he is towards Francine Berg’s Diana Monti. She is in many ways a woman far “ahead of her time” and the life of crime she’s embarked upon is in many ways her only option. How delightful it is to see her dressed as a nun attacking Edith Scob’s heroine with a giant hypodermic needle. And that’s not to mention her dancing a very fast fox trot with her handsome but ineffectual boyfriend — played by Edith Piaf’s last husband, Theo Sarapo.

  4. Yeah, she’s great in the remake. Sad that Franju didn’t see eye to eye with the luscious Sylva Koscina, who I think is a great boon to his film. He apparently didn’t care for her AT ALL. But she makes possible the pervy cat-fight in cat-suits.

  5. She does indeed. I’m surprised they didn’t get along. But then Franju was no Fellini. The sight of two women fighting, one on black tights the toher in white, is more than enough

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