Juve vs. Fantomas

To my mind French director Louis Feuillade is the greatest filmmaker of the teens–greater even than D.W. Griffith or Maurice Tourneur–yet aside from this single episode of his first great serial, Fantomas (1913), his work hasn’t been screened commercially in the U.S. for 90 years. Like his masterpiece Les vampires (1915), this thriller pits high-tech master criminals against staid bourgeois types and more resourceful working-class stiffs, mixing fantastic and surreal imagery with documentary glimpses of Paris. Fortunately Les vampires is now available here on VHS and DVD, and a disc of the complete and restored Fantomas can be ordered from France, but this rare theatrical screening of Feuillade’s work is still a major event. 64 min. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films.

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