Fantômas makes it as the emperor of Crime. First is the robbery at the Royal Palace Hotel. Then he abducts Lord Beltham. As Fantômas' fame increases actor Valgrand creates the rôle of ... See full summary »
Fantômas makes it as the emperor of Crime. First is the robbery at the Royal Palace Hotel. Then he abducts Lord Beltham. As Fantômas' fame increases actor Valgrand creates the rôle of public enemy No.1 on stage. Eventually Inspector Juve, with a little help from Fandor, arrests Fantômas and he is soon sentenced to die on the guillotine. But... Written by
Fantomas?/What did you say?/I said :"Fantomas" /What do you mean?
For a person who would have read the Souvestre /Allain's novels,Feuillade's movies would fatally be a disappointment.I read them when I was sixteen and I was fascinated by this mysterious masked figure .Today "Fantomas" has lost much of its popularity ,probably because he was not a "nice "character ,like Arsene Lupin who is still enjoying success.But anyway Maurice Leblanc was a better writer than Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain.
Feuillade's adaptation is not very satisfying:he ruled out the best part of the first volume ,which took place in a château where the marquise de Langrune was murdered (the first word of the saga is "Fantomas!" when nobody had still heard of him).That's after this crime that Charles Rambert became Jerome Fandor -in Feuillade's movie ,he is introduced as Juve's best friend whereas Juve really "made " Fandor.
Even more embarrassing is the ending Feuillade chose -he had to make Gaumont's money work for them ;these are his own words- for what was primarily a horror story: in the novel,Valgrand is really guillotined .It's only a movie after all ,so what's the point of saving him apart from making a film "suitable for any audience"? The Danidoff episode seems out of its context.But the biggest mistake is to have shown Fantomas.Fantomas had no face or he had other people's faces (such as the actor's).By showing since the cast and credits the actor who plays the "hero",they make the character lose 90% of its appeal.
Feuillade had talent for story telling ,nobody can deny.The scene of the substitution retains a sense of mystery .Feuillade's greatest merit -and it's quite important-was to attract the crowds : the serial genre forced them to come back and come back again if they wanted to know if the criminal would be finally caught.He was the granddaddy of so many series and miniseries in the world that he would never be thanked enough just for that.
For people who would like to know about the first part of the novel,I would recommend Paul Féjos's "Fantomas" (1932),which includes spooky scenes in the old château and features Fandor when he was still Charles Rambert.
The De Funes movies ,unless you are a fan of the actor ,should be avoided ,for they kept nothing from the novels but some of the proper nouns.
On the other hand, Chabrol's miniseries in the late seventies /early eighties is to be commended:Helmut Berger was an ideal Fantomas and he got good support from Jacques Dufilho as Juve and from Pierre Mallet as Fandor.
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