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).


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