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 Andréyor and take her to an old mill. The kidnapping–Andréyor’s second in Judex (so far)–happens only before René Cresté arrives to protect her.

While the villains bicker over who has to actually murder Andréyor (it seems like they were expecting her illness to do her in, since she’s in desperate need of medical care), Cresté is back at Judex Base heartbroken. He’s not out trying to find Andréyor, he’s crying on brother Édouard Mathé’s arm. When it comes time for action, however, Cresté gets it together. The emotional scene is an interesting touch for the film; it makes Cresté 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 Andréyor actually getting to do something for a scene. Her rescues, at this point, are almost guaranteed. Mill does put her face to face with Cresté for the first time and it’s a good moment. She gets actual character development later.

It’s an excellent entry. Breezy too.


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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