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Double Bill: Judex + Nuits Rouges

03 November 2012 | Double Bill, Features | by David Zou

Judex and Nuits Rouges form a double bill DVD release from Eureka’s Master of Cinema series,they are directed by the famous French auteur George Franju(Eyes without a Face),and are both homage films to the Fantomas franchise directed by one of the greatest French directors – Louis Feuillade(Les Vampires,Tih Minh).

 

judex nuits-rouges

The MoC covers of Judex and Nuits Rouges

Both Judex and Nuits Rouges are written by the grandson of the great Louis Feuillade - Jacques Champreux,who was a big fan of George Franju at that time.These two films are combined with the elements in some of the Louis Feuillade films and George Franju’s own unique style,which made them really easy to enjoy and fall in love with.

 

The Story and Characters

The plot of Judex revolves the banker Favraux, receiving a threatening note from Judex demanding that he pay back people he has swindled. He is later drugged by Judex and locked away. Meanwhile the former governess Diana, kidnaps Jacqueline to try to get the banker’s money.A battle between good and evil has started…

judex-1963-04-gJudex and his girl

Nuits Rouges, released in the U.S. in an English-dubbed version by New Line Cinema under the title Shadowman in 1975,the protagonist is a thief whose head is covered by a red mask, and his cat-suited assistant, try to find the fabled treasure of the ancient Knight Templars from a surviving sect in Paris…

Both films have spellbinding plots which you wouldn’t want to miss a minute,it’s fully entertaining from start to finish,you could find all the cliches in any crime films but there are also lots of new stuff you probably have never seen before.

nuits rouges shadowman

The man with no face in Nuits Rouges

Many characters are memorable,like the charming magician Judex,played by a real magician called Channing Pollock.The weird-looking shadowman as the villain in Nuits Rouges, his assistant,the sexy “cat woman”,the hilarious detective,and the zombies,are all typical character set-ups in the classic crime films.

 

The additional George Franju flavor

I haven’t seen any Louis Feuillade films yet,but I love George Franju’s flavor in these two films.

The fantastic elements are brilliantly created and executed in both films.Like how Judex watches over the banker Favraux through a “magic mirror” and writes him notes on the ceiling of the cell,like the surreal makeup party with everybody on a mask of a certain bird,at one point I thought I was watching Jean Cocteu’s Beauty and Beasts.The black&white cinematography by Marcel Fradetal is breathtaking,it definitely adds the dream-like quality to the film.

judex makeup party

The makeup ball in Judex

The story of  Nuits Rouges itself is a fantasy-oriented one,the criminals look for the “holy grail” of the ancient Knight Templars,and the police sets up all kinds of traps to catch them.The most outstanding characters in the film are the geeky doctor and his crazy experiment – zombies that follow the mastermind’s orders to kill.There’s an interesting detail that the zombies identify each other by the red ribbon on the arm,and the detective makes use of it and escapes from them.

nuits rouges zombie

Zombies in Nuits Rouges

The mise-en-scene of George Franju is also something worth notice in the film.For an example,in the long rooftop scene of Nuits Rouges,the camera moves fluently to capture the female thief’s fantom-like movement through varies of locations,with the beautiful and haunting music in the background,a scene I could watch repeatedly.

nuits rouges roof scene

 The “cat woman” in Nuits Rouges

Conclusion

Judex and Nuits Rouges are two highly entertaining French films with the incredible mise-en-scene of the ignored master George Franju,a double bill that both stick firmly to the rules of the crime genre and innovate upon it.If you haven’t seen them before,do yourself a favor,watch them.

 

 


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