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Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine (1913)

Fantômas - À l'ombre de la guillotine (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 1916 (USA)
Inspector Juve is tasked to investigate and capture an infamous criminal Fantomas.

Director:

Louis Feuillade

Writers:

Marcel Allain (novel), Louis Feuillade | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
René Navarre ... Fantômas / Gurn
Edmund Breon ... Inspector Juve (as Edmond Bréon)
Georges Melchior ... Jérôme Fandor, journaliste à 'La Capitale'
Renée Carl ... Lady Beltham, maîtresse de Fantômas
Jane Faber Jane Faber ... Princesse Danidoff
André Volbert André Volbert ... L'acteur Valgrand (as Volbert)
Naudier Naudier ... Le gardien Nibet
Maillard Maillard ... L'habilleur de Valgrand
Yvette Andréyor ... Josephine
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
André Luguet ... Dollon
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Storyline

Princess Sonia Danidoff is staying at the Royal Palace Hotel, Paris, and withdraws $20,000 from the cashier's custody, placing the notes in a drawer in company with her magnificent rope of pearls. A few moments after a well-dressed stranger steps from behind the curtains and, with the coolest of sangfroid, steals the valuables in the very presence of the princess, and with a polite bow hands her his card and makes a dignified exit. Upon the card the name "Fantomas" slowly appears. The police are quickly upon the scene, but Fantomas, true to his nom de plume, has vanished. Inspector Robert Juve is the sleuth entrusted to track the mysterious marauder. But before Juve has time to move in the matter of the princess's jewels and cash, another escapade of Fantomas' is thrust upon him to investigate. Lord Beltham is missing. Juve calls on Lady Beltham, and in a man's hat finds the initial "G." With so slight a clue Juve tracks down "Gurn" (none other than the elusive Fantomas) to his ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Followed by Fantomas: The Man in Black (1913) See more »

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User Reviews

They Seek Him Here, They Seek Him There
21 December 2007 | by JoeytheBritSee all my reviews

Fantomas is a kind of French Moriarty, an arch-criminal, leader of a huge rag-tag band of villains, who can evade arrest by two policemen holding each of his arms simply by shaking his wrists and knocking them both out. I ask you, what chance has an honest copper got? The film actually seems quite ambivalent about him at times, and you suspect there is a sneaking admiration for him on the filmmakers' part, despite his incredibly ruthless streak (in one episode he uncouples a train carriage and sends its passengers to their death so that they can't act as witnesses against a robbery he has committed on board; in another incredible sequence he leaves a fellow villain stranded inside a church bell to await certain death the next time it is rung).

The story lines of this French pre-WWI serial are fairly simplistic and don't stand up to even cursory scrutiny but, as a time capsule from a bygone age, the films are fascinating. Louis Feuillade's style of direction is basic to say the least and, for such a renowned early name from French cinema, something of a disappointment. The camera never moves, and every shot appears purely functional and nothing more. Perhaps I'm missing something, or perhaps I'm expecting more than I should from a piece of work nearly one hundred years old, but his style makes things drag at times. The film only really comes alive when Feuillade takes his camera outside to capture scenes of both rural and urban France. The film makes as much use of letters as it does intertitles to drive the story on and, considering the hindrance of it being a silent film, it's a device that works quite well.

Fantomas will only be of interest to the movie buff rather than the film fan. The art of storytelling has moved on – or, given the impression of advancement that gives, perhaps changed is a better word – and even the most patient of filmgoers will find that the pace drags at times. Nevertheless, given its place in film history, it's an important film that is worth checking out.

And it's also worth watching just for the final get-out-of jail card played by the wily Fantomas…


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