The Judex Files: Backstory

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Having delivered two throbbing climaxes in as many episodes, Louis Feuillade and his team change the pace for episode 7 of their serial JUDEX, introducing Judex’s mum, and flashing back to his childhood to finally provide his motivation — in effect, his secret origin. Now read on…

We learn how Favraux the banker ruined Judex and his brother Robert’s dad, leading to dad’s death. The beastly banker also behaved like a cad to their poor mother. Flashback Favraux even has a twirly villain mustache — a massive one. The Harley Davidson of handlebars.

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“Here’s your Florida call, M. Favraux.”

An oath of revenge is sworn over dead dad. In a cruel irony, it turns out that the family aren’t destitute after all — now Judex has a fortune which he can use to plot his revenge. All those dogs and pigeons don’t come cheap, you know.

Present tense: Ma Judex is displeased to learn that her son has commuted the banker’s sentence from death to life imprisonment, all because he fancies the daughter. You can’t let little things like that turn you from the path of righteousness if you want to make a go of the vengeance business.

Judex will spend the rest of this episode moping.

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Interlude with Cocantin the detective and the Liquorice Kid, his new ward. Wonderful how casually these things can be arranged in 1916 France. First he was living with his little girl-boy friend, sharing a bed, now he’s adopted by a private dick. Where might he end up? President of the Republic? Emperor? He has a Napoleonic look to him.

Musidora makes another kidnap attempt, is thwarted.

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Ma Judex is thwarted too — seeing Favraux’s daughter and grand-daughter-son praying alongside the Liquorice Kid, her vengefulness softens and she lets mercy into her heart. This kind of heartfelt stuff, which LES VAMPIRES and FANTOMAS just don’t bother with, is really lovely. Naive, perhaps, but sincere.

 

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2 Responses to “The Judex Files: Backstory”

  1. There’s something about stories that don’t so much derail as calmly pull into stations nowhere near where the tracks were headed. With an early serial like this, you wonder if they had a complete script or outline, or if major changes were made on the fly.

    You don’t see it in feature films, unless you’re comparing original scripts and concepts to the final product. New stuff can appear at any point instead of shooting order, although I always thought “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” looked like the budget was suddenly reined in towards the end.

  2. But that would depend on it having been shot in sequence. Or perhaps the ending was a reshoot. (I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch it.) Another film with a Steve Martin cameo, Little Shop of Horrors, had an expensive ending deleted and a cheaper, happier one tacked on.

    Judex’s history had to be explained at some point, I guess. There are more strange and awkward episodes than this coming up…

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