Gaumont

Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade)

The first chapter of Judex doesn’t get a chapter title; it’s just the prologue. While the action in the prologue leads directly into the action of the first chapter, throwing young, wealthy widow Yvette AndrĂ©yor into despair (financial and emotional), the first titled chapter ends up having less to do with where Judex is going to go than almost any other chapter. It’s like the serial has two prologues. The first focuses on dispicable banker Louis Leubas, the second on how his being dispicable affects his daughter, AndrĂ©yor.

And in the background is the mysterious “Judex,” who threatens Leubas to give up half his fortune to atone for his previous sins. The serial introduces one of those sins in the prologue–poor Gaston Michel. Michel was a miller who lost it all because of Leubas’s bad financial practices; he turned to crime and went to prison. His wife died while he was inside and his son disappeared. Just out of prison, he visits Leubas, asking for help in finding his son. Leubas sends him off. Then has his driver run him over.

Michel’s not dead, which isn’t clear until the second episode (maybe third). But Leubas is a bad guy. Always has been. His additional wealth and respectability haven’t changed him. In fact, one of Judex’s many, glorious subplots involves Leubas’s history.

Because the most compelling thing about Judex isn’t RenĂ© Cresté’s ostensibly dark avenger, it’s the things going on in the story around it. Judex doesn’t actually need Judex to be compelling. It needs CrestĂ©, sure, but Cresté’s time in the black cape and hat are somewhat limited. Very limited as the story progresses and he discovers he has to be present for AndrĂ©yor not just as a protector, but as a man. He’s in love. Desperately.

Oh, yeah, there’s the complication. CrestĂ© can’t carry out his family’s revenge on Leubas because he’s fallen for AndrĂ©yor. There are a lot of other complications, like Musidora, who’s first after Leubas’s money, then after AndrĂ©yor’s. Musidora has a couple partners in the film, main guy Jean Devalde (who has a secret, but important, past) and then AndrĂ©yor’s former fiance, Georges Flateau. Flateau dumps AndrĂ©yor after she loses her fortune. But then once there’s a chance to recover some of it, he gradutes from mercenary marriage to kidnapping and attempted murder.

Musidora doesn’t have much in the way of redeemable traits (none, really), but she still manages to be a lot more likable than Flateau. Or Devalde. Because Musidora’s pretty smart, especially compared to CrestĂ©, who seemingly has come up with his one plan, executed it, said he can do more, but really isn’t prepared. He’s got an awesome pack of dogs who can track kidnapping victims and knock down bad guys, but they’re only good for so much. When it comes to kidnapping victims in high places, for example, Cresté’s got to find a kid he can put in danger to help get the job done.

The kid is often RenĂ© Poyen. He’s one of Judex’s truer heroes. He befriends AndrĂ©yor’s son, Olinda Mano, who she’s had to give up while she lives in poverty as a piano teacher. AndrĂ©yor’s plans don’t make a lot of sense, but seeing as how she can’t make it two chapters without people wanting to kidnap her, it also makes sense she can’t get them figured out.

For much of the serial, Andréyor is a damsel in distress. At least three major times. Sometimes Cresté rescues her, sometimes someone else rescues her. After her turn as the main target of Musidora and company, their attention goes to Mano, presumably because a kid is easier to grab. Musidora is able to track Andréyor and Mano because Cresté is terrible at planning.

Just as many times as AndrĂ©yor’s in danger–maybe more–CrestĂ© and company (usually Édouard MathĂ© as his brother, though eventually Michel joins the team) screw something up. They operate on a strict forgive and forget policy. So even though goofy and adorable private investigator Marcel LĂ©vesque at one point works with Musidora, helping set up on an attempt on AndrĂ©yor’s life no less, team Judex is okay with him once he comes around.

It bits them in the ass with one of the other characters, who isn’t as goofy, adorable, or honorable as LĂ©vesque turns out to be. LĂ©vesque also has a great subplot with Poyen.

Is CrestĂ© more effective as the lovestruck suitor who just happens to be holding his desired’s father in captivity under strick orders from his mother to execute the man? Well, sure. It’s hard to imagine how CrestĂ© was even able to set his plan in motion in the first place (offscreen in the prologue and before). He must have gotten a lot of pep talks from MathĂ©, whose role on Team Judex is split between logistics, babysitting, and pep talks. Whenever it’s time for action, CrestĂ© perks up from his romantic melancholia, but otherwise Mathé’s doing most of the work.

And Cresté’s efforts as a hero are never quite as dynamic as some of the other heroisms on display. Poyen really comes through, a street urchin with a heart of gold, a solid work ethic, and the right temperment to protect pal Mano. There’s also the tragically uncreditted Lily Deligny, who shows up sort of as a deux es machina in the end chapters. She’s a swimmer. It’s important because CrestĂ© and his family are guarding AndrĂ©yor on their estate on the Mediterreanan. There CrestĂ© hopes to make AndrĂ©yor fall in love with him, even though he’s running two big deceptions on her, not to mention having her mentally incapacitated father on a nearby estate. Team Judex can’t figure out what to do with him since they aren’t going to kill him. Judex mare, Yvonne Dario, eventually comes up with a solution, which works because it’s a serial, but the film major cops out on the dramatic ramifications (and possibilites) of that solution.

While there’s a lot of danger in Judex, there’s not a lot of death. Neither Musidora or Devalde want to actually kill anyone. They keep trying to get someone else to do it–their plans for AndrĂ©yor are always extremely long game, like get her sick and then deny her medical treatment so she dies from exposure–they can never do it themselves. The serial, thanks to the performances and Feuillade, never feels like it isn’t dangerous. At least, not when Musidora is involved. Some of the other characters you know aren’t going to be too dangerous.

The chapters vary in length. Thirty-five minutes down to nine. The prologue’s long, the epilogue’s very, very short. They mostly move well. After the halfway point–the seventh chapter, when mama Judex Dario gets introduced–there’s not a lot of time for anything but action. Until that point, there’s a lot more with the emotionality of the characters. CrestĂ© just mopes, but everyone else has visualized internal emotions. Those sequences are some of Feuillade’s flashier filmmaking. He also really likes the ruins where CrestĂ© has the Judex cave.

Because it turns out, although CrestĂ© wants Leubas to atone for his financial crimes in general, Leubas didn’t financially ruin Cresté’s family. They’re rich as all hell. He’s a self-funded adventurer, after all. The serial starts being very anti-capitalist, it ends being blah on capitalism (imagine being so poor you have to work, even if you’re a wealthy banker) and big on blue blood. It actually explains a lot about Cresté’s actions. He and MathĂ© are just playing.

But it doesn’t matter because Musidora’s dangerous and Cresté’s comprised. Even if they’re foppish heroes, they’re the heroes just the same.

The best performances are LĂ©vesque and Poyen. Musidora’s quite good. AndrĂ©yor’s good, but better when she’s the damsel in distress than Cresté’s ward (whether she knows he’s her guardian or not). Her character development pretty much stops once she gets Dano back (and gets to be rich again).

Devalde’s good. His character arc throughout is a little disappointing. Feuillade and co-writer Arthur Bernùde go out of their way to be sympathetic to just about everyone except Devalde. Dario’s good. Especially considering she’s in a bunch of old age makeup.

And Cresté’s all right. Once he gets to just be a fool in love–around AndrĂ©yor, not from afar (or in disguise)–he gets a lot better.

Musidora’s threats and plots serve for good inciting actions, but the character development because of those experiences is what makes Judex work. It’s the drama surrounding the characters, not the action. Because while Musidora’s good at the action, Cresté’s not. He’s just not on the ball. Once he uses up the dog trick, he’s got nothing. Well, nothing but money, as it turns out.

Feuillade’s direction is good. He has some rather jarring jump cuts the first few chapters, but they go away. He seems more comfortable shooting the South of France scenes. They’re not as visually dynamic as the stuff around the Judex Cave (it’s underneath ancient ruins), but the characters have enough room in luxury. And together. So much of Judex is just about making sure a reuniting sticks.

It’s a good serial. Very rarely boring, usually quite the opposite. You get to miss the characters by the end–when there are just too many for everyone’s subplot to get attention each chapter. Though Judex does sort of leave MathĂ© behind once Dario shows up. It doesn’t seem fair since he’s been keeping CrestĂ© on task for the first half of the serial.

Judex works out though. Because–not in spite of–CrestĂ© being a big softie under all his dashing, dark avenger trappings. The same thing is true of the serial itself. Feuillade’s embracing of sentimentality and emotional sincerity is what makes the serial so special.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Epilogue

Judex’s epilogue further wraps things up for the cast. There’s some definite resolution for young RenĂ© Poyen as far as his living situation, some humor with Marcel LĂ©vesque, and some humility from Louis Leubas.

René Cresté and Yvette Andréyor get a romantic send-off, with Cresté finally able to wear something nicer than his Judex costume.

The rest of the cast has their moment too, but Feuillade focuses on Leubas–at least in terms of giving the actor material. More than anyone else, it’s his story. Though living a wealthy recluse in a pastoral setting might not be the punishment the serial initially suggested for him.

It’s a good finish for the serial. Though it’d have been nice for Poyen and Olinda Mano to get something to do; Poyen’s support for LĂ©vesque while Mano just pops in to remind the one loser in Judex–Gaston Michel–how cute he can be.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 12: Love’s Forgiveness

The title of the episode is Love’s Forgiveness so there’s not much in the way of surprises.

RenĂ© CrestĂ© risks it all by reuniting Yvette AndrĂ©yor with father Louis Leubas, then discovers mom Yvonne Dario has already told AndrĂ©yor all and she–AndrĂ©yor–is in love with him–CrestĂ©. The multiple deceptions and whatnot don’t bother her.

There’s the cute moment when RenĂ© Poyen meets Marcel LĂ©vesque’s girlfriend, Lily Deligny, but not as cute as it could be.

And Judex does provide some resolution to Musidora, though only barely. Poor Gaston Michel gets to finish the episode, the only person who isn’t happy.

Even though Forgiveness resolves all of the outstanding plot threads and problems, it doesn’t really feel like much of an ending. Michel’s finale–and Michel is the one who started Judex in many ways–doesn’t do much to connect to the front. Except in terms of showcasing his continual loses.

There’s still the epilogue for Feuillade to further wrap things up, but it seems like this episode could’ve easily been combined with the previous one. Yes, it’s the final resolution for the open subplots, but there’s literally nothing else to it.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 11: The Water Goddess

So while Yvonne Dario is still consoling Yvette AndrĂ©yor about deceiving her–again, it’s not clear how much of the blame Dario takes on herself, which should be a lot since she made RenĂ© CrestĂ© vow to kill AndrĂ©yor’s father–CrestĂ© goes off to save AndrĂ©yor’s father. On the way, he meets up with his brother, Édouard MathĂ©, who managed to get out of the house without raising AndrĂ©yor’s suspicions. MathĂ© tries to give CrestĂ© a pistol but CrestĂ© doesn’t need one.

What he does need is to pay some attention. At the meeting spot, Musidora sneaks up on CrestĂ©. She’s on a boat. He doesn’t see a boat. Nearby, Marcel LĂ©vesque and his girlfriend, Lily Deligny, see the boat. Which is good, because Deligny has to go save CrestĂ© after he gets taken prisoner because he’s not good at planning. At all.

Deligny is the titular Water Goddess and, along with RenĂ© Poyen, one of Judex’s real heroes.

It’s a fairly action-packed chapter. Not particularly suspenseful, as director Feuillade draws more attention to the melodramatic possibilities–but still action-packed. It’s good Judex has established CrestĂ© as unable to think about anything else when he’s got AndrĂ©yor on his mind, because he forgets about Deligny. He also forgets about the guy he gets killed. He’s preoccupied. He’s convinced Louis Leubas (as AndrĂ©yor’s father) there might be a happy ending for all.

Except the dead people.

LĂ©vesque’s got some adorable physical comedy and Goddess is paced well. It just further reveals, presumably unintentionally, CrestĂ© to be more a feckless blue blood than determined vigilante.

One episode to go. Then the epilogue.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 10: Jacqueline’s Heart

Jacqueline’s Heart is a very short episode. Nine minutes or so. And nothing much happens except RenĂ© CrestĂ© plays fast and loose with his multiple identities and Yvette AndrĂ©yor finds his make-up kit. Overhearing AndrĂ©yor wish his sweet old man persona would show up, CrestĂ© obliges.

A note from AndrĂ©yor’s father–no longer imprisoned (at least not by CrestĂ©)–arrives and beckons her to a mysterious meeting on the docks at night. CrestĂ©, as old man, says he’ll go. But then he changes into his Judex gear in his room (next to AndrĂ©yor’s) before heading out.

And she sees him. Leading to her investigating his room. And finding his makeup kit. Then along comes Yvonne Dario to console the confused Andréyor.

The episode ends with Dario telling AndrĂ©yor everything. Sadly it cuts that scene, so it’s not clear yet if Dario is going to tell AndrĂ©yor she–Dario–is the one who wanted to kill her–AndrĂ©yor’s–father.

It’s an interesting turn of events; I assumed AndrĂ©yor wouldn’t find out the truth until much later. But Judex is getting close to the finish. Only three episodes to go. Or two and an epilogue.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 9: When the Child Appeared

This chapter begins with the principals removed from their problems and living it up on the Mediterranean. Édouard MathĂ© and mother Yvonne Dario have taken Yvette AndrĂ©yor, Olinda Mano, and (of course) RenĂ© Poyen away from the troubles in Paris to a beautiful seaside estate. Somewhere they can all just relax, safe from Musidora’s evil machinations.

Except, of course, lovestruck RenĂ© CrestĂ© can’t help but rent the estate next door so he can woo AndrĂ©yor (in his own identity). He has to bring his prisoner along with, so he also needs the prisoner’s caretaker. Apparently it never occurs to CrestĂ© someone might see supposed dead Louis Leubas and recognize him. AndrĂ©yor’s only his daughter, Mano’s only his grandson.

And Mano is the titular Child who appears. Mano’s encounter with Leubas, which returns Leubas to an active role in Judex for the first time since the prologue, isn’t even the most dramatic thing. No, Musidora is also in town. She’s followed private investigator Marcel LĂ©vesque from Paris, bringing once again evil Jean Devalde along. Devalde has gray hair as a disguise, Musidora dresses as a man.

Still. Apparently no one was worried about LĂ©vesque being an obvious target. And when Mano tells everyone about Leubas living next door, it’s clear CrestĂ© doesn’t have a plan for revealing the truth to AndrĂ©yor. He’s just a dope in love.

The chapter ends with LĂ©vesque getting a deus ex love interest in (an uncredited) Lily Deligny. She’s swimming the Mediterranean and just happens to be an ex-girlfriend. Lucky LĂ©vesque.

The serial can get away with some of the contrivances just because of the pace–and Musidora’s scheming–but there’s a decided lack of drama this episode, even though it keeps promising it.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 8: The Underground Passages of the Chateau-Rouge

The Underground Passages of the Chateau-Rouge shows the audience the most of Judex’s base so far. There’s a finished bedroom and some castle interior hallways. Not just the ruins and then laboratory. Some of it is revealed when brothers RenĂ© CrestĂ© and Édouard MathĂ© show their mom, Yvonne Dario, around the base.

She wants to make sure they’re torturing Louis Leubas enough.

But there’s some more of the base revealed when Jean Devalde–who managed to stay a good guy for the entire previous episode, which he didn’t appear in–falls back under Musidora’s charms and brings henchmen to the base to kidnap Leubas.

It doesn’t go according to plan.

The chapter eventually teams CrestĂ© and Marcel LĂ©vesque–all is, of course, forgiven when it comes to LĂ©vesque’s work for Musidora–which leads to the serial’s first gunfight.

A lot happens in the chapter, but only with supporting cast–Leubas, Devalde, and Georges Flateau. I’m assuming the action will return to the principals once CrestĂ© discovers Devalde’s return to the dark side.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 7: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black introduces the first new character to Judex since the first chapter. There’s the prologue and then the first chapter; The Woman is the first new character since the first chapter. It’s Judex’s mom, played by Yvonne Dario (mostly in some awesome old age makeup–Judex is great with the old age makeup).

The chapter opens with her reminiscing about her sons, which turns out to be the secret origin of Judex. Dario has made RenĂ© CrestĂ© and Édouard MathĂ© swear to avenge themselves upon Louis Leubas–Leubas sought to financially ruin their father, as well as turn him into a cuckold. Of course, it was when Dario rejected Leubas’s advances–I’m assuming it’s Leubas, if so the old age makeup is even better–he retaliated by ruining the family.

Or at least temporarily. But long enough for tragedy.

The action then returns to the present, with CrestĂ© visiting and trying to Dario to understand he’s in love with Yvette AndrĂ©yor and maybe he’s not capable of murder. Dario’s not having it and decides she’s going to take care of things herself.

Meanwhile, pals RenĂ© Poyen and Olinda Mano decide the adults need to get them reunited, which is a whole production since Georges Flateau is staking out the house where Poyen is hiding. There’s some nice stuff with Marcel LĂ©vesque, whose previous sins are apparently all forgiven (as he’s adorable and babysitting Poyen).

Will the boys reunion be ruined by Dario’s arrival and demand for vengeance?

It’s a good episode. Gets a little long at times–though the payoff of Musidora realizing Flateau’s an idiot and terrible criminal partner is fun–but good. Cresté’s acting is better than it ever has been before. While he’s still in a mope over AndrĂ©yor, at least it’s an active mope, as well as one with conflict.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 6: The Licorice Kid

The Licorice Kid–RenĂ© Poyen–gets his own chapter. Sort of. Poyen figures into it quite a bit, but it’s not his chapter. He doesn’t even save the day (he does help save the day).

While Yvette AndrĂ©yor is safe, RenĂ© CrestĂ© is still very sad she doesn’t like him after he threatened to kill her father and then he apparently died. So CrestĂ© sends his brother, Édouard MathĂ©, to pick up AndrĂ©yor’s son–Olinda Mano. Except, because it’s Judex and no one can catch a break–villain Musidora is also after Mano. Having lost her previous compatriot, she’s teamed up with Georges Flateau; together, they both boss around adorable but morally bankrupt private investigator Marcel LĂ©vesque.

Except LĂ©vesque isn’t so sure about kidnapping a kid, especially not an adorable one like Mano, and he starts to have regrets. LĂ©vesque wasn’t so upset about potentially murdering AndrĂ©yor a chapter or two ago, but whatever. He’s come around. And since LĂ©vesque is himself adorable, it’s nice he’s a good guy again.

LĂ©vesque and Mano are cute together. Poyen and Mathé–they team up to find Mano–are cute together, but not as cute because Mathé’s not adorable like LĂ©vesque.

Thanks to the performances, Kid gets past its big problem–Judex needs someone in distress because instead of CrestĂ© trying to track down Musidora, he sits around and mopes over AndrĂ©yor. It went from AndrĂ©yor being a target to Mano.

There’s a nice resolution for Poyen. Hopefully not his exit from the serial, but it would be a fine one.

Well-paced too. Judex is definitely hit its stride.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 5: The Tragic Mill

The Tragic Mill earns its title. Villains Musidora and Jean Devalde kidnap currently sickly damsel in distress Yvette AndrĂ©yor and take her to an old mill. The kidnapping–AndrĂ©yor’s second in Judex (so far)–happens only before RenĂ© CrestĂ© arrives to protect her.

While the villains bicker over who has to actually murder AndrĂ©yor (it seems like they were expecting her illness to do her in, since she’s in desperate need of medical care), CrestĂ© is back at Judex Base heartbroken. He’s not out trying to find AndrĂ©yor, he’s crying on brother Édouard Mathé’s arm. When it comes time for action, however, CrestĂ© gets it together. The emotional scene is an interesting touch for the film; it makes CrestĂ© a lot less disturbing when he’s in dread avenger mode.

It comes time for action because–initially through what appears to be great contrivance–Cresté’s new manservant, Gaston Michel. The Tragic Mill used to belong to him, before he went away for fraud. Turns out it isn’t contrivance in an wonderfully executed reveal. Judex has just enough melodrama behind the action, but never not enough action.

The chapter ends with AndrĂ©yor actually getting to do something for a scene. Her rescues, at this point, are almost guaranteed. Mill does put her face to face with CrestĂ© for the first time and it’s a good moment. She gets actual character development later.

It’s an excellent entry. Breezy too.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Feuillade; written by Arthur BernÚde and Feuillade; directors of photography, André Glatti and Léon Klausse; production designer, Robert-Jules Garnier; released by Gaumont.

Starring RenĂ© CrestĂ© (Judex), Yvette AndrĂ©yor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel LĂ©vesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert MoralĂ©s), Édouard MathĂ© (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), RenĂ© Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (GisĂšle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


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