Rene Creste

Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 4: The Secret of the Tomb

I was wondering how Judex was going to move forward–the last chapter ended with villains Musidora and Jean Devalde foiled in their kidnapping of Yvette Andréyor. This chapter begins with Musidora suspicious of Judex’s warnings. She convinces Devalde to investigate and they head to the graveyard. Because why wouldn’t you immediately assume there’s something fishy about someone’s death from the tense in a note.

Hence The Secret of the Tomb. Upon discovering Louis Leubas’s coffin empty, Musidora tracks down lovable private investigator Marcel Lévesque. He’s not lovable for long, however, as he throws in with Musidora and Devalde in an attempt to recover Leubas’s fortunes. Since he’s alive, Andréyor’s donation of them can be overturned.

So, being villainous (and both Musidora and Devalde are exceptional this chapter, particularly as Devalde becomes wary of their schemes and Musidora threatens him back into line), they decide to kill Andréyor.

For some reason it requires them to lure her to the countryside where her son, Olinda Mano, is in hiding. Luckily, Mano and his street-wise compatriot René Poyen are playing on the river where the villains toss Andréyor.

Where’s Judex (René Cresté) during all these goings on? Breaking in Gaston Michel as a combination butler for the underground base and jailer for Leubas.

Poyen’s fantastic here too. He’s turning out to be a better hero than Cresté.

The chapter drags a little–Andréyor has apparently been reduced to a rarely conscious damsel in distress–but the actors get it through just fine.

CREDITS

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

Starring René Cresté (Judex), Yvette Andréyor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel Lévesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert Moralés), Édouard Mathé (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), René Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (Gisèle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 3: The Fantastic Hounds

The Fantastic Hounds seems like a silly name for the chapter, but it turns out Judex’s dog pack is rather fantastic. They aren’t just able to sniff out kidnapped Yvette Andréyor, they’re able to rescue her. Sure, a ten or twenty dog pack is intimidating, but they execute their mission perfectly. Kudos to whoever trained the dogs.

But the dogs don’t open the chapter. Instead, it’s the brother of Juliette Clarens; the actor is unfortunately uncredited. Musidora and Jean Devalde shake him down for double the “ransom” on Andréyor (they’d kidnapped her so the brother could prove his worth by rescuing her). The brother turns to Clarens, who turns to their father (actor also uncredited). It’s a nice bit of acting from all concerned as the brother has to own up. Silly rich people, thinking they can just have complication free kidnappings.

So Feuillade splits the action between the brother, his family, the criminals, and then Judex and his brother. As the brother, Édouard Mathé ends up with more to do this chapter–even if he’s clearly the sidekick, though René Cresté finally gets some material in the title role. He’s mostly mooning over Andréyor, but it’s rather sweet.

After her rescue, Andréyor then has to deal with son Olinda Mano running away from hiding to visit her. Fantastic Hounds switches gears from action to family drama beautifully. The scenes with Andréyor and Mano are great.

But it’s still not over–Fantastic Hounds runs around thirty-seven minutes–because Feuillade and co-writer Arthur Bernède have another reveal. Gaston Michel didn’t die in the prologue. It’s unclear if it’s supposed to be a surprise. I just assumed he died.

Michel joins the Judex team, though so far his only job appears to be tormenting their captive–Louis Leubas.

There’s some lovely filmmaking from Feuillade here, particularly when Cresté daydreams of Andréyor who’s daydreaming of Mano. Very smooth.

Though he does have his weird perspective jump cut again at least once in Hounds (which is when the close-up jarringly changes angle from the long shot).

The Fantastic Hounds feels very much like the end of Judex’s first act.

CREDITS

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

Starring René Cresté (Judex), Yvette Andréyor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel Lévesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert Moralés), Édouard Mathé (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), René Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (Gisèle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 2: The Atonement

The Atonement might be a peculiar chapter for Judex; since it’s only the second one, however, maybe it’s going to be the norm.

It starts with Judex gently intimidating his captive–Louis Leubas. At first, it seems like Leubas is going to be doing some atoning. It’s also where Feuillade has some continuity issues–which the intertitles further confuse (it says Leubas has only been locked up a day, but it’s been at least a month). Except it turns out it’s just a check-in with Leubas, because then it becomes this adorable children’s adventure.

Leubas’s grandson, Olinda Mano, runs away to his mother (in her new home under an assumed identity). He makes it to Paris all right, but then he needs the help of street urchin René Poyen to get the rest of the way. It’s fun, light, and sweet. Poyen’s a better actor than Mano; their fast friendship is rather touching, especially since Mano’s just been an accessory to this point.

Only his mom–Yvette Andréyor–is still in the midst of her new kidnapping plot, with villain Musidora discovering Andréyor isn’t just some piano teacher to kidnap for a wealthy admirer, but Leubas’s daughter. Musidora had hoped to seduce Leubas’s fortune away from him (before he was “murdered”).

Luckily, Mano releases the pigeons–just because he’s a kid–meant to notify Judex when Andréyor is in danger.

There’s a good deal of Judex at the beginning of the chapter, but the end has René Cresté assume the lead role in the serial. He gets his hero’s exit from the cave–horse, pack of tracking dogs, cape. He might already have on the cape.

Feuillade does a great job with this part, the adventuring part. And with the finale where Cresté–tall, gaunt, frightening–warms to Mano before heading out to rescue Andréyor.

It’s a concise, exquisitely paced chapter. Feuillade and co-writer Arthur Bernède structure this chapter’s cliffhanger just right. Technically a soft cliffhanger–no one on screen is in immediate danger–but still with the hardness of Andréyor in danger.

Good stuff.

CREDITS

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

Starring René Cresté (Judex), Yvette Andréyor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel Lévesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert Moralés), Édouard Mathé (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), René Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (Gisèle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Episode 1: The Mysterious Shadow

The first chapter (proper) immediately follows the prologue, with Yvette Andréyor taking over the lead (possibly for the rest of Judex). Unlike her father, she’s swayed by the mysterious Judex’s demand–half her father’s fortune was to go to charity or he’d be killed.

Andréyor, shedding herself of gold-digging fiancé Georges Flateau, gives away the entire fortune before her father’s even in the ground. Including the family castle. So Andréyor has to send away her adorable son and move away, in anonymity, to make a paltry living teaching piano and English.

Meanwhile, The Mysterious Shadow introduces Judex. He’s a tall skinny guy (René Cresté) with a distinct hat and cape. He makes a base underneath some ruins. His base, however, is not the ruins. It’s a very modern base. There, his brother (Édouard Mathé) works as sidekick… resurrecting Andréyor’s father (Louis Leubas). Judex, it turns out, isn’t a murderer. In fact, he’s a little sweet on Andréyor, finding her in her self-imposed exile, and promising to come to her aid if needed.

Turns out she might need the aid because one of her students has a scummy brother who tries forcing himself on her. Andréyor fights him off, only for the man to complain to already introduced criminal types Musidora (who lost her fake job as governess when Andréyor gave away the fortune) and Jean Devalde. Devalde hatches a plan to kidnap Andréyor, unaware of her true identity.

There’s a lot of story this chapter. Director Feuillade keeps it moving, with Andréyor an extremely sympathetic protagonist. Feuillade’s shots are more distinct this chapter–he really likes vertical composition. He also has one and a half jarring jump cuts. The vertical composition is far more successful.

Hopefully goofy (but well-meaning) private investigator Marcel Lévesque gets to come back. He too gets the boot with Andréyor’s dissolving of her estate.

CREDITS

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

Starring René Cresté (Judex), Yvette Andréyor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel Lévesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert Moralés), Édouard Mathé (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), René Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (Gisèle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Judex (1916, Louis Feuillade), Prologue

The prologue to Judex mostly concerns banker Louis Leubas. He’s rich, he’s French, he’s corrupt. He wants to carry on with a younger woman–Musidora–but he’s got a widowed daughter (Yvette Andréyor) and a grandson living with him. So he decides to marry off Andréyor to a presumably suitable suitor (Georges Flateau) and settle in with Musidora.

Musidora, however, is actually in league with villain Jean Devalde (though his villainy is only defined by his status as an ex-con, which is peculiar given something I’ll get to in a moment). It’s okay though, because Flateau is in debt up to his ears and probably only interested in marrying Andréyor for her money.

Everything is going along fine–at least so far as Leubas knows–until an aged man shows up at the castle gate. Leubas is castle rich; it turns out it’s partially because he’s been ripping people off for years. The old man, Gaston Michel, has been in prison twenty years; Leubas bankrupted him before Michel turned to a life of crime. So, not all ex-cons are bad.

Leubas isn’t satisfied turning Michel away (though Michel just wanted some help reuniting with his missing son). Leubas runs Michel down because the old man won’t get aside for Leubas’s car.

Leubas goes from being a dirty old man to a villain real quick.

But then Leubas gets a threatening letter signed Judex and employs private detective Marcel Lévesque to protect him.

Can Lévesque–a newbie to the private investigation game–keep his client safe?

As a prologue, it’s a little odd. There’s very little hint at what’s going to come subsequent. No one gets much time onscreen except Leubas (and, eventually, Lévesque). Lévesque is rather funny, but he’s still probably not going to be a consequential character in the rest of the serial.

It all moves well–director Feuillade and co-writer Arthur Bernède fit a lot in–but it’s Leubas’s show. And he’s not going to be a big part of what comes. So as a narrative prologue, it works. As a pilot for the serial proper? Not so much. Presumably the next chapter will give a better indication of how Judex is going to play.

CREDITS

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

Starring René Cresté (Judex), Yvette Andréyor (Jacqueline Aubry), Musidora (Diana Monti), Louis Leubas (Favraux), Marcel Lévesque (Cocantin), Jean Devalde (Robert Moralés), Édouard Mathé (Roger de Tremeuse), Olinda Mano (Jean), René Poyen (The Licorice Kid), Gaston Michel (Pierre Kerjean), Lily Deligny (Miss Daisy Torp), Juliette Clarens (Gisèle), Georges Flateau (Vicomte de la Rochefontaine), and Yvonne Dario (Comtesse de Tremeuse).


Scroll to Top