The Judex Files: Hey Judex, don’t make it sad

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Belatedly, back to JUDEX, and an exciting fifth installment (or sixth if you could the intro), what we might label the first act climax, if we were interested in such matters.

Nifty plotting: the old geezer who’s become Judex’s chum while he’s looking for his jailbird son announces that he wants to visit his old family mill. The fact that he finds Musidora and her henchman there, who have just abducted the banker’s daughter AGAIN, would seem like a rather glaring and unlikely coincidence — except that as it turns out son and henchman are one and the same! He was visiting HIS old family mill too, only he was using it as a hideout. The coincidence is mitigated, though in fact it’s still pretty unlikely they both turn up at once. But director Louis Feuillade was no doubt counting on audiences being distracted by the young henchman’s facial resemblance to John Lithgow ~

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Father and son are emotionally¬†reunited (there’s none of this in FANTOMAS), and son switches sides, locking Musidora in the adjoining room. But Musidora is not a woman to be caught unprepared for any eventuality. Stripping off her dress, she reveals a swimsuit underneath, and escapes through a hatch in the floor into the millstream.

Musidora reminds me somewhat of superhero and world’s strangest man, the Flaming Carrot, who wears flippers at all times, “in case he has to swim.”

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Judex to the rescue! The banker’s daughter, de-abducted and brought to the safety of her father’s crusty secretary’s Paris apartment, begins to recover from her previous near drowning. But there are more revelations to come…

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She tells the aged secretary that she has no desire ever to hear the name Judex again, since she associates him with the death threats received by her (assumed) late father, shortly before he (apparently) died. And the secretary trudges off with a defeated air to his room, where he strips off his wig and false beard to reveal —

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Feuillade blows his entire allowance of exclamation points on this revelation.

Hoist by his own petard, if “petard” is the word I am looking for. Is it the same in French? Anyway, Judex has fallen in love with his enemy’s daughter, she despises him, and will only look kindly on him when he’s wearing an old man disguise which renders him, frankly, unfuckable. How to resolve this dilemma? Good job there are approximately 15,000 episodes still to go…

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6 Responses to “The Judex Files: Hey Judex, don’t make it sad”

  1. Your paraphrase of this serial moved me to purchase a Flicker Alley print off EBay, and the mill-rescue/reunion is exactly where I stopped last night. More, please! (Can’t remember if your examination of actors looking straight into the camera included the Licorice Kid’s several searching looks, but I’m hoping this turns into a plot-device.)

  2. I’m delighted to have inspired your viewing!

    I’m a few episodes further in, so expect the next piece imminently.

    I have indeed related LK’s looks-to-camera moments with my series on that theme. Perhaps his close relationship with another character, which you haven’t encountered yet, has to do with them both having a rapport with the audience?

  3. Regarding “fuckability,” Feuillade wasn’t really interested in sex — outside of the femme fatale charms of Musidora. His heroines are as chaste and innocent as Griffith’s.

  4. Idle question: Which Judex would you advise a newcomer to see first? I saw the serial first, and as much as I enjoyed the feature the necessary deletions were a little disappointing.

  5. John Seal Says:

    Is it ‘hoist BY your own petard’ or ‘hoist ON your own petard’? Or is it (as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet) ‘hoist WITH (your) own petard???

  6. I saw the Franju movie first, and maybe that’s a better approach, since I wasn’t bothered by the deletions and I’m now enjoying the added details.

    Since a “petard” is a small bomb, and the victim would be “hoist” into the air, either “with” or “by” make grammatical sense, but not “on” since it’s not like a block-and-tackle kind of thing. But WITH is, as you say, the correct quote.

    Feuillade gets sex in via Musidora and other less pure characters: I think it’s a Madonna/Whore thing, since the heroines are required to be ladylike (though in Judex she’s a window and mother, so I guess not technically “innocent”). Sex is associated with sinners: Diana Monti and Morales obviously have a great time in the sack, in some hitherto unscreened sub-episode.

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