Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Channing Pollock in one of the cinema's great entrances, from JUDEX.

It hasn't received much attention over here but, last November, CAHIERS DU CINÉMA released as part of their "Collection 2 Films De" series a two-disc set of Georges Franju's JUDEX (1963) and NUITS ROUGE (1974, the feature condensation of his miniseries L'HOMME SANS VISAGE). The Region 2 release wasn't carried by the usual importers because it didn't offer an English track for either of the films; however, it does offer one of my favorite films in a celestially lovely anamorphic transfer, as I thought I might share with you today in this series of screen grabs.

Jacqueline (Edith Scob) is overtaken by Diana Monti (Francine Bergè).

Jacqueline discovers the identity of her secret benefactor.

Judex (Channing Pollock) comes to Jacqueline's rescue.

Judex's shadowy accomplices ascend to save their mentor.

An unhappy discovery for the murderous Diana Monti.

The companion feature, NUITS ROUGE -- which I've always yearned to see in its complete form -- looks much nicer here than it did as a New Line Cinema theatrical release, or as the Beta/VHS release that came out in the very early days of home video. I've never seen it other than looking as grainy as a 16mm blow-up, but here it looks brighter and more richly colorful than I've ever seen it. Contrary to the 4:3 notation on the packaging, it has also been nicely letterboxed... but, for some reason, not treated to anamorphic enhancement. Nevertheless, here for your edification are an equal number of sample images.

Jacques Champreux as the Man Without a Face.
A moonlight robbery at knifepoint.

The Woman (Gayle Hunnicutt) on the prowl.

Hero Paul (Ugo Pagliai) holds a marching procession of robotized zombies at bay.

Inspector Sorbier (Gert Fröbe) saves Martine (Joséphine Chaplin) from her masked abductor.

Gayle Hunnicutt and Jacques Champreux at Shadowman HQ.
Both films are accompanied by interviews with Jacques Champreux, the grandson of French film pioneer Louis Feuillade (LES VAMPIRES, FANTOMAS, the original JUDEX), who scripted both features and played, very ably, the Man Without a Face in the latter picture. The JUDEX disc also contains a wealth of CD-ROM material for those who read French, including an interview with Franju, an article called "Feuillade and His Double" by Jean-André Fieschi, and CAHIERS' 1963 review of the film by filmmaker Jacques Rivette (CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING).
The set now appears to be officially out of print, as it is no longer directly available through Amazon.fr; however, a few stores selling through Amazon.fr still have it, which is how I lucked into my copy. Now my fingers are crossed for a stateside release in English, perhaps (please? please?) through Criterion's Eclipse label. With SPOTLIGHT ON A MURDERER, THERESE DESQUEYROUX and THOMAS THE IMPOSTER included, s'il vous plait.
The Anthology Film Archives in New York City are currently hosting a Franju retrospective, with a showing of JUDEX and a number of short films by the director being shown tonight. How I wish we had such things in my hometown! Follow this link for more details.

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