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Worthy of a viewing
elis_jones31 October 2006
Georges Franju is an unfairly neglected director - overshadowed by Godard and Truffaut, he fell quickly out of favour as a filmmaker, although he is revered as co-founder, with Henri Langlois, of the Cinematheque Française in Paris shortly before World War 2.

The influences to be seen in Franju's films are not those of New Wave directors: Hollywood film noir and trashy American novels. He is more in tune with German Expressionism and, as perhaps befits a film archivist, with silent cinema.

So JUDEX is a very affectionate tribute to Louis Feuillade, and shares its title with a 1916 serial. As the title character Franju cast a magician - Channing Pollock - and other actors include the wonderful Edith Scob (unforgettable in Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE), Andre Melies (son of Georges) and Theo Sarapo (one-time lover of Edith Piaf). The music is by Maurice Jarre, and adds to the dreamlike nature of the whole story.

JUDEX may not be a great film, but it is a truly wonderful film. Just let it wash over you, and the memory of it may haunt you for a surprisingly long time!
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JUDEX (Georges Franju, 1963) ***1/2
Bunuel19762 December 2006
I never had the opportunity to catch up with this one during my childhood and, for a long time, I had to make do with an intriguing still of the lead character in a large bird mask and holding what appears to be a dead dove. Three years ago, I managed to get hold of a VHS copy duped from what, reportedly, is the only French-language version (an extremely fuzzy 16mm print with barely-legible English subtitles) in existence! Its dire condition had affected my initial judgment and I didn't enjoy the film as much as I hoped I would. Then, two years later, Flicker Alley released the original 12-episode Silent serial of 1916-17 by Louis Feuillade (whose length totals over 5 hours) and I decided to try the Franju film again as a companion piece; this time, I was determined to overlook the deficiencies of the print and just go along for the ride - and, sure enough, it proved to be a much more rewarding experience! This third viewing, then, came by way of an Italian-dubbed 'variant' I recorded off TV which is in much better shape and, despite being apparently trimmed (95 mins. against the official 104), I opted to keep it as the former is a real chore to sit through!

Anyway, much as I admired the already wonderful Feuillade version (which, for the record, I also rate ***1/2), I found the later film - to my mind, an immensely satisfying compression of it - to be even superior because of its genuine touches of poetry and magic, even surrealism (such as the afore-mentioned costume party scene in which Judex - already hiding his true identity under an alias and his features behind layers of make-up - turns up donning a symbolic pigeon mask). In fact, the title role is played by real-life magician Channing Pollock which allows his celebrated act to be cleverly incorporated into the narrative!

I would venture to say that Franju's JUDEX is one of the best remakes ever made - fascinating, exciting and imaginative. The timing of its release (coming immediately prior to the espionage boom of the 1960s) ensured that the film also be viewed as a fond farewell to the days of old-fashioned crime (though gadgetry - soon to go overboard, i.e. when the James Bond extravaganzas descended to the level of a comic-strip - is still present, such as the mirror which allows Judex to peek at his captive and even communicate with him by writing on the glass panel itself).

For all his limitations as an actor, Pollock displays all the stoicism of the typical superhero and carries a genuine screen presence. Besides, Francine Berge' has to be one of the most captivating villainesses to ever grace the screen - utilizing several disguises in the realization of her evil schemes, none more fetching than the skin-tight black outfit (which she also sports when engaging in the climactic roof-top fight with an equestrienne, played by Sylva Koscina in a splendid cameo). Franju regular Edith Scob, then, is the doe-eyed heroine and there's also amiable support from the characters of the detective Cocantin and a resourceful boy who eventually becomes his sidekick. Another of the film's major assets is a subtly haunting score from Maurice Jarre (the last of eight collaborations with Franju, among them the latter's masterwork EYES WITHOUT A FACE [1960]).

The film - co-written by Jacques Champreux (grandson of Louis Feuillade!) and produced by Robert De Nesle (later associated with the dubious work of Jess Franco!) - is a veritable connoisseur's treat and a sheer delight from beginning to end. Franju later made the similar SHADOWMAN (1974; in which Champreux himself took the lead role!) but, by this time, such escapist fare was strictly old hat and, in any case, the result only worked in fits and starts. Another film in the same vein - which I own on VHS and I've been meaning to catch up with for some time - is the Russian-made 4½ hour Silent serial, MISS MEND (1926).
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Haunting, sublime crime drama
masked film critic6 March 2000
Franju's evocation of a lost innocent era of French silent cinema is a real gem, and a much neglected film. The film creates an air of gentle menace from the opening scenes featuring a bird-masked magician at a masked ball. We soon learn that he is, in fact, Judex, the legendary crime-fighter. He soon becomes engaged in a battle with a cat-suited female criminal. The plot itself is one-dimensional comic-strip stuff, as the above suggests, but what constantly impresses is the poetic set-pieces Franju sets up, particularly a burglary at a country house swathed in mists. The show is continually stolen by Francine Berge, as the criminal - she seems a not-too-distant relation of Diana Rigg in television's "The Avengers", at least in dress sense - and this highlights a slight problem. The hero, played by American magician Channing Pollock, is bland by comparison, as is Edith Scob's heroine-in-distress. It seems that the bad girls get all the fun! Overall, this is the type of film that doesn't get made any more, yet doesn't seem dated. Franju's more famous "Les Yeux Sans Visage" is, in terms of mood, very similar, as is Cocteau's breathtaking fairy tale, "La Belle Et La Bete". The sixties British horror, "The Haunting", also pulls the same trick of showing little by achieving everything through mood alone. Do try to see all of these if you get the chance.
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A marvellous film for those who love supervillainess (spoilers)
sleepsev19 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS: Deceptively titled Judex, the heart of the film actually belongs to the arch elegant enemy of the title character. This film shows many obstacles the supervillainess must overcome in order to get what she wants, instead of showing the obstacles the superhero must overcome. Thus, it's one of those rare films of which some audience will find themselves drawn to and siding with the villainess, cheering for her, and secretly praying that she would escape, survive, or win in most situations, and these audience will also ask themselves time and again while watching this film, 'Why is the boring heroine still alive? She should have been dead already.'

While the hero seems to have no trouble doing anything he wants especially in the first half of the movie, the villainess gets into tight and dangerous situations many times. Her clever plans always run into trouble, and she must improvise solutions to her problems. Though the villainess is punished in the end, those audience who cheer for her should still be satisfied, because she is not punished by the unimpressive hero, but by a character who is no less charming than her. The final fighting scene is very exciting, because it is not only about the hero versus the evil, but it involves some other characters who aren't exactly good or evil, thus the audience cannot guess the fate of these characters. While the audience can predict the fate of the hero, they are still thrilled to find out if other supporting characters will survive or not.

Many scenes are weirdly beautiful and unforgettable, including the mask party scene, the strange dance scene between the villainess and her lover, the scene when the villainess reveals what she wears inside the nun clothes, the scene when the heroine floats down the river, the scene when the detective reads a book about fighting nuns, and most importantly, the moment when the acrobat girl shows her delight in saying that her uncle was eaten by a lion.

I love this film very much, or to be exact, love the villainess and the last person she fights with. After watching 'Charlie's Angels' and 'The Heroic Trio', starring Maggie Cheung, I think some studios should consider making a new film inspired by the plot of 'Judex' with the help of some Hong Kong kung fu choreographers. If a new version is to be made, please let the villainess fly high and don't make the heroine helpless.
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A Dated Gem
Dr00gle31 May 2018
This film is most certainly worth a watch if you're at all interested in classic film. Highly stylized and full of fun and suspenseful moments, Judex is a gem amongst crime thrillers.

There are quite a bit of issues that keep it from being a perfect film though, not the least of which is how dated it is. As some shots and practical effects are less than stellar, almost comical at times.

At points as the story goes on you'll likely find yourself thinking "Well that's convenient" or "What, how?". But a lot of that can be chocked up to the already ridiculous nature of the plot, and aren't necessarily due to negligence from the screenwriter.

The acting from some characters can be a bit off putting at times as well, but there's enough great performances in there to offset that.

However despite its flaws this is a good early film for the genre.
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Back to a time when people were living in war.
dbdumonteil2 February 2008
The first "Judex" was made in 1916 and the late French critic Roger Boussinot was hard on Feuillade ,whose films were (I quote him) " brainwashing" .He was speaking of "Les Vampires" and "Judex" which ,for him,were hiding the atrocious reality.

Back in 1963,Franju,who had a penchant for mystery ("Les Yeux Sans Visages" "Pleins Feux sur l'Assassin" ) made a remake.He cast a conjurer(Channing Pollock) as the lead (which was not a bad idea after all for Judex being an almost surrealistic hero did not demand a great actor ) Franju used again his favorite actress ,Edith Scob,("les Yeux Sans Visage" ) whose eyes were the most beautiful (along with MIchèle Morgan's) in the French cinema.

Judex is some kind of mysterious Robin Hood,who comes to the rescue of poor people an unscrupulous banker has swindled . Franju's sense of mystery works wonder and creates a strange atmosphere with this hero with a bird mask .A sequence was filmed in Château-Gaillard ,les Andelys .
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Visual Poetry
Eumenides_026 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Judex is visual poetry, an extravagant display of powerful black-and-white images. Georges Franju made the beautiful Eyes Without A Face to bring respectability to the horror genre, and in Judex he returns to the trashy world of pulps and serials to craft a thriller unlike any I've ever seen.

Judex is the story of a caped crusader who warns Favraux, a corrupt banker, to return all the money he has stolen until midnight or else die. The banker pays no heed and falls dead during a masked ball exactly at midnight, surrounded by people. His innocent daughter, Jacqueline, discovers his criminal deeds and gives away her fortune for some peace of mind. But Favraux's mistress decides the daughter holds some papers that are worth a fortune and goes after them. It's up to the mysterious Judex to protect the helpless Jacqueline and restore order.

The story itself is unremarkable, but it's Franju's visual style and the harking back to a world full of cliffhangers, melodramatic discoveries (in the course of a fight, a man discovers his would-be killer is his missing son), unexpected twists, dashing escapes, men standing stoically in black capes, genuinely-bad villains and square-jawed heroes, amazing fights in rooftops, masters of disguise, and other clichés that made the pulps so fascinating almost a century ago, that make this fast-paced movie memorable.

Many scenes stand out: the classic scene in which Judex, masked as a pigeon, entertains guests at a masked ball with his magical feats, just before Favraxu falls dead; the rooftop fight between Francine Bergé (in a sensual black skintight costume) and Sylva Koscina (playing an aerialist); any scene in which Judex just stands up in his black cape, more threatening and imposing than Christian Bale will ever be in his heavy, ugly, impracticable Batman suit.

Franju explores the black-and-white camera to the limit, constantly contrasting light and shadows, light colors with jet black, much like he did in Eyes Without A Face. He also never forgets the world this movie came from, making references to Fantomas (a famous French pulp and a serial by Louis Feuillade), and to Max Ernst's Loplop figure (the surrealists loved pulps and serials).

The cast is quite good; I had no idea who Channing Pollock and was amazed at his magical feats, producing birds out of thin air. Although an amateur actor, he commanded a presence that him perfect as the heroic Judex. Francine Bergé was another revelation, and her role is perhaps one of the best villainesses in movie history, a ruthless, determined woman who uses sensuality, charm, wits and violence to reach her goals.

Although the feel of the movie is nostalgia, Franju's remake of Feuillade's celebrated serials is not condescending. If anything, it shows how fascinating these old stories were and how much modern movies owe them. Judex is a fast-paced entertaining history lesson.
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Masked Ball (For Viewers)
writers_reign2 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There is, as the Good Book tells us, nothing new under the sun but old wine in new bottles occasionally has a lot going for it. In 1981 Spielberg let it be known he was harking back to the serials of his youth when he created Indiana Jones but Georges Franju beat him to it by almost twenty years when, in 1963, he remade Louis Feuillade's silent 12-episode Judex; nothing new squared. The story begins at a masked ball and the entire film is a ball for the viewer with a real magician, Channing Pollock, cast as the eponymous superhero, Robin Hood with a French accent whose life is one long crusade to right wrongs, to, as it were, take injustice from the wealthy and redistribute it as justice to the poor. The film is beautifully shot in black and white which allows for poetic effects hard to achieve in colour and cat-suited Francine Berg, who is also a mistress of disguise, makes a worthy opponent for Judex; the climactic roof-top fight with Sylva Koschina - a passing equestrienne - is ten times more effective in black and white than it would be in colour. Overall this is a wonderful nostalgic romp which helped see off the pretentious new wavelet once and for all and if that weren't enough (which it is) Judex is a superb and unmissable film in its own right.
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Well made but the plot is very, very old fashioned and, at times, silly.
MartinHafer12 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
According to this movie, 'Judex' is an old fashioned word for a judge and the film is about the attempts of a man, Judex, to punish a rich evil-doer as well as his fight against a criminal gang run by a pretty lady. I have no idea how close this is to the original movie serial, a five-hour silent from 1916. Both, apparently, were set about the same time...just before WWI.

When the film begins, you learn that a very corrupt banker, Favreaux, has received a threat from the unknown Judex--promising to punish him for his many nasty deeds. Before Judex has a chance to strike, you see some of Favreaux's evil, you certainly are cheering for justice--and justice is served by Judex exactly when he promised. However, there are some serious complications--the dead Favreaux might not exactly be dead AND an evil woman and her criminal gang are afoot and might complicate things for Judex and Favreaux's sweet and innocent daughter.

This film sure plays a lot like a movie serial. Again and again, narrow and ridiculous escapes occur just like with most serials. For example, one highly illogical scene shows the band of crooks kidnap the daughter and they just toss her in the river...hoping she'll drown. When she doesn't, they then kidnap her AGAIN! Such odd happenings are definitely not unusual for old-time serials but for the early 1960s it does seem antiquated and silly. Despite this and quite a few other illogical moments, the film has some cool moments as well such Judex's cool high tech gadgets as well as the masks worn at the ball. All in all, a fun film but also one that is hard to take very seriously...especially the way that the baddies all conveniently off themselves in the final moments of the film!
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Incredibly Slow and Dull Compared to the Original
swagner200130 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
***note - may contain spoilers ***

The one redeeming sequence in this 1963 remake is the Masked Ball scene. Judex appears as a guest, with a large pigeon's head covering his own. He produces bird after bird as entertainment for the masked guests. This scene serves as a prime example of how the rest of the film should have been staged i.e. heavy on music and visuals, and light on dialogue.

But, the bulk of the film has a boring, unimaginative soundtrack of silence, or words, and more words. Semi-closeups of people talking, talking, talking. Give me the silent version of JUDEX any day.

Even the framing of the shots cut down on the entertainment value.

Example: In the original Louis Feuillade JUDEX, a woman, walking across a bridge, is captured by two men. They throw a hood over her head, wrap it tight with a rope around her neck. Cut to shot of them tossing the body into the river. This is CLEARLY seen, no confusing close shots cutting out valuable information. You SEE a body fall off a high bridge into a river. CUT TO: Two kids fishing in a boat on the river. One kid catches something, starts reeling it in - it's some unidentifiable sack. They pull it ashore. Looks like a body. "Licorice Kid" removes the rope around the victim's neck - pulls off the hood, and realizes - in shock, that it is his sidekick's mother.

That's from the original - the sequence is amazing, and unforgettable.

The 1963 remake has it like this. Two guys nicely dressed, lean over the edge of a bridge. (There is no water visible in this shot) "I don't know - it doesn't look like she'll sink into the river. She's still floating." The two men exchange a look of concern. Cut to close shot of blonde actress floating in water. We clearly see her face, eyes closed. She appears quite relaxed - one presumes she is in the river the two men were talking about. Cut to shot of two kids in a boat. One ribs the other, pointing to woman floating in river. She's brought to shore.

See the difference? There's intrigue and mystery and a real sense of danger in the original silent, which is just not there in the 1963 version.

The 1963 version plays like a Vanity Fair advert in motion. Yes, it's all very slick, like Jules Dassin directing an episode of "The Avengers." What drives me insane are the 1960's hairstyles in a movie supposedly set in 1917.


The 1916/1917 silent serial is a masterpiece. See it. And if you're still hungry for more, catch this (1963) version.

(NOTE - "JUDEX34" is a 1934 remake that's supposedly quite good - directed by Maurice Champreaux, the son-in-law of Louis Feuillade. Unfortunately, "JUDEX34" is not available on video at the moment.)
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Dreams and art
jmce-935-9271609 May 2011
I saw Judex in 1964 in the movie Theater movie Niza in Barcelona. I was a teenager and I remained shocked by the images fascination. I review the film time to time. It is a masterpiece to recover the spirit of the old shows by Louis Feuillade before the I World War, with love and taking care of infinite details. If we compare the images with those taken in fresh air by Feuillade in 1912-14 Paris we can realize the accurate work of the art directors. All movie is an exercise of cinematographic calligraphy that only a poet can do. Franju and Luis Buñuel are the greatest surrealist in cinema history. This sequence of the masked dance is the best I have never seen: there is magic in the pigeon mask by Edith Scob..
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a lost classic
feedme-416 April 2007
Every bit as good as the original serial (and shorter!), Judex is a masterpiece. I've had quite a few arguments over whether this was the director's best with partisans of "Eyes Without a Face"... though it's a close call. Edith Scob's performance is astonishing (more so for the early '60s) - she also appeared in Bunuel's exquisite "Milky Way", but little else.

It's too bad that Franju never had the chance to make more films - he was a real master.

Maybe TCM will book Judex on one of those late Friday cult programs. Until they do, I found a fairly good copy through Atlas Visuals.
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starts off strong, then fades
adverts26 October 2005
I have to agree with the review by Swanger2001. After the initial set up of the characters and the amazing Masked Ball scene, the film settles into boring dialogue and badly staged action.

I'm curious to hear what a French-speaking person thought of the acting. I don't speak it myself, but this one of the few times I've seen a French film and thought "this (acting) seems really lousy - like a low budget exploitation film".

I don't know if this film is available on DVD. I saw a VHS copy courtesy of Something Weird Video...and the subtitles left something to be desired. Film quality was mediocre.

Worth seeing if you liked "Eyes without a Face", but not essential viewing.
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Franju's artistry
Cristi_Ciopron25 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This strikingly original pastiche, the mind—blowing 'Judex', a thriller for those who know something about cinema, reminded me of the Fantomas TV series, of the Marais franchise, of Hunnebelle, of Feuillade, of Clouzot, even of the spooky 'Marienbad'—some for dissimilarities, not all for the same reason; and most of all, it gave me a vivid taste of what a genuine tribute means, a straight one, not Burton's spoofs. It comes at once from Feuillade, and from the literary original.

Both broads, Mme. and Mlle., three—with the buxom acrobat Daisy, are very hot. Cocantin reads 'The Empty Coffin'.

Franju is the flip-side of Hunnebelle, Hunnebelle's movies shot by Clouzot—and I seem to remember that 'Morgan' wrote not only about 'Jéhu', but also about Feuillade—striking mind—bending surreal images, the unsung face of the French cinema, where scholars fail to tread. It's good to have them both.

A lavish thriller, good—natured and of great artistic intelligence, 'Judex' is a masterpiece of charm and storytelling. I didn't hope that I will come to live a joy like this movie gave me. It gave an excitement that I had almost forgotten. Franju has never been equaled. Franju is the most intriguing, and the most underestimated French director. His main aim is to recreate a world, not to spoof it. 'Judex' has the beauty of a jewel. This highly stylized, knockout form of suspense is something I can very much relate to—in films or books.

In its decade, so rewarding for the movie buffs, 'Judex' was aligned with 'Bond' and the Marais comedies; it rivals and, of course, surpasses them—it should go without saying. Movies like this evoke in me feelings of piety for the French cinema, before its entertaining wing slipped into the present barbarity.

The '60 had a knack for eeriness—in the mainstream of Bond and the Marais comedies, and in the legendary TV series of that decade; sometimes it was schmaltz, others—the chilling feel some movies from back then achieve. Of these, 'Judex' is the most impressive that I know of.

Two things—of course 'Judex' isn't a … crime drama, as one reviewer claims, instead it's a thriller—and it doesn't 'show little' (like a Gothic masterwork from the same epoch), as a matter of fact it's glamorous, lavish, resplendent—as action scenes, sets, images, shots, there's a gorgeous ambulance door, and not only fights and stunts, but even quite spectacular effects—so, quite the opposite of restraint and (British) 'mood alone', to quote directly—third, I liked better Édith (nowadays she looks like Marina Voica—understandably, since they're both Russian).
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Good but unremarkable crime tale
dbborroughs18 August 2007
French remake of a 1914 serial involving a "crime fighter" who uses masks and deception to right wrongs and such. Similar in someways to a more real batman. This remake has Judex-the Latin for judge- going after a banker who swindled people by telling him that if he didn't repay the money he would die. And die he does-or so it appears as Judex spirits the man away and hold him prisoner. From there it gets complicated. Good but unremarkable as a whole mystery/adventure story set in the late 1800's thats perfect for late night viewing since its the sort of thing I used to run across at 2am. Worth a look if you run across it but I don't know if I'd go out of my way to see it.
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If you accept it has a slow development... but impressive !
ifasmilecanhelp6 November 2007
At the beginning, and for a long while, I just thought : good visual cinematography,

but it was too slow for me... I even used speed advance !

But what kept me not stopping the film, was it seemed amazing, for the visual Black and White aspect,

even if the movie was much too slow, again... Because the plot seemed so small...

My impressions, say until the third of the movie, were about of how much I appreciated the impressive dark atmosphere the director created...

I Remember thinking how I would rate it, may be 6 on my personal scale ?

and only for the B/W technique ? still because it was... almost boring slow.

And telling myself : once is enough...

Now I can say I think I was not in the mood...

And incredibly to believe for me, a kind of brain wave happened in my mind (it may happen, sometimes, yes... :)

Frankly, I was completely wrong !

More I watched, more I wanted to continue the viewing...

Started really to enjoy, admitting I was impressed !

Until then, I didn't appreciate enough the slow pace (was I in hurry ? no...) and the easy plot, (stupid, I thought in the beginning),

still kept on watching... for the fairy-like and poetic sides ...

And finally, went on being strongly and deeply impressed for the whole performance of the camera and picture work...

The Clair/Obscure work just let me admiring : wow !

And the multiple rebounding script, fairly from another era, enjoyed it...

The actors were good, OK, but it was not especially them who made the fantastic performance :

it was the man behind the camera ! The one who did the master work : the Director...

Didn't know that gentleman, but if only some (or all) his work has the same quality, what a discovery for me !

My print is so so, but never mind...

Great, great work !!! Will see it again... in some time...

It is said it was made as an homage to Louis Feuillade, a merited great one...
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"What's all this about nuns?"
brogmiller28 October 2020
Louis Feuillade, one of the true pioneers of cinema whose work has undeniably influenced Lang and Hitchcock, had been criticised for glorifying villainy in his hugely popular serials 'Fantomas' and 'Les Vampires'. He redressed the balance somewhat by creating Judex, a hero who is both judge and jury. Director Georges Franju has managed here to reduce the original 5 hour, 12 episode original to just 97 minutes which is no mean feat although unavoidably, compromises have had to be made. Some have confessed to being baffled by the twists and turns of the admittedly condensed plot but their bafflement quite frankly baffles me as the film is sufficiently well-constructed and the pace certainly slow enough not to cause confusion. Feuillade's work is known for its anarchy and surrealism. This adaptation has little anarchy and its surrealism is mixed with realism. This is Lunacy restrained. Essentially a film of moments, or 'set pieces' if you like, Franju's unique visual style and sense of atmosphere make it mesmerising to watch. Behind every great fortune there is usually a great crime and banker Favraux, played superbly by Michel Vitold, has enriched himself by the Panama Scandal. He is called to account for his crime in an anonymous letter which threatens death at midnight if he does not atone and return to his victims his ill-gotten gains. He chooses to ignore this warning and at the stroke of midnight at a masked ball he appears to drop dead, only to awaken in an old castle to find himself the prisoner of a mysterious figure in a cloak and a slouch hat............. Judex is here played by Channing Pollock, a handsome hunk who made a few European costume films at this time. He began as a magician and in this is able to perform his famous 'dove act'. As an actor alas, he is a plank. Franju regular Edith Scob as the banker's daughter is required to do little more than play a Miss Goody Two Shoes but the camera loves her will o' the wisp persona. Saints are not nearly as interesting as sinners of course and by far the most fascinating character is that of Diana di Monti. As a ruthless, sensual and utterly deranged villainess she is a gift to any actress and is here played with relish and aplomb by Francine Berge, complete with catsuit and nun's habit, wielding a dagger and a hypodermic needle. Her choreographed fight on the rooftop with luscious Sylva Koscina as Daisy the circus performer is guaranteed to quicken the pulse. Franju is reported to have said of Daisy's character: "I could have done without her" but happily for us he couldn't! Jacques Jouanneau does a good turn as the incompetent detective Cocantin and there is a captivating performance by Benjamin Boda as Reglisse the boy. Also of interest is a brief appearance as a doctor by Andre Melies, son of that other pioneer director, Georges. Mention must be made of Robert Giordani's superlative art direction, Marcel Fradetal's magnificent cinematography and Maurice Jarre's atmospheric score. Whatever its weaknesses this bizarre opus is immensely entertaining and can be revisited with pleasure. Ideally one could have done with a little more flamboyance but that after all, is simply not Franju's way.
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Too much of a homage, not enough of a movie
vostf29 February 2012
Judex "1963 redux" has been produced as a homage to Louis Feuillade's original serial. The production values are very much aligned with that endeavour, so you can't blame Franju's work for a shortage of faithfulness, let alone dissecting it to pinpoint some lack of respect or understanding of the source material.

The point is the movie works as a homage, and then what? You can't tell a story in 1963 the same way it was told in 1916. At the time there was a developing medium, silent and with static setups, yet a medium Feuillade helped transition away from the filmed stage by making it closer to the action-packed serial pulp fictions.

So Franju adds nothing. This would be OK if it was the first shot at features from a naive cinema student, but here lacks something closer to a real movie, a movie with its own rhythm, its own structure and real suspenseful action not silent action designed to fit a frame.

It is true that Franju was more interested in remaking Fantomas. How would he have succeeded in doing this any better, i.e. matching the original popular success of fascination for a frightful villain? That takes much more work than a nice little artsy homage to the movies of yore.
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Judex's Shadowman.
morrison-dylan-fan29 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Nearing the end of ICM's French film challenge,I started searching for DVDs that I've been meaning to check for ages. Despite getting it after seeing the magnificent Eyes Without A Face,I somehow have not got round to seeing Master of Cinema's double bill from auteur Georges Franju,which led to me deciding to finally witness Franju's first take on Judex.

View on the film:

Abridging the 12 hour run-time of the 1916 original in their modern adaptation, the screenplay by Jacques Champreux and Francis Lacassin brilliantly keep to the spirit of the films roots,with the ransom demand, the kidnapping of Jacqueline and the end of reel heroic rescue by Judex hitting the frantic atmosphere of classic cinema serials. Keeping close to the pace of a serial, the writers struggle to get out of a disjointed tone,as the plan by the baddies becomes stretched out,and Judex is saved to appearances at the end of acts.

Lovingly paying tribute to Feuillade with Silent-movie style fade-ins and a classy dedication, director Georges Franju & cinematographer Marcel Fradetal build upon the Fantasy stylisation of Eyes Without A Face,with the bird mask intro of Judex and the climbing up of walls by him and his gang. Whilst the cast have more alluring costumes, Franju twists his visceral horror of Eyes into the serial origins with the return of a bird cage as a motif, Diana's kidnapping of Jacqueline holding tension on a knife-edge,and an astonishing shot following someone falling to their death.

Eyeing another collaboration with Franju, Edith Scob gives an excellent,expressive performance as Jacqueline,whose face gets caught in a wide-eyed state of fear. Creeping around dressed as a nun, Francine Bergé gives an outstanding performance as Diana,who is given a ruthlessness by Bergé which shines each time she pulls a knife out. Swinging into action at every end of act, Channing Pollock gives a dashing performance that keeps the heroic Judex flying in the air.
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the atmosphere
Kirpianuscus30 April 2017
the atmosphere represents the lead thing who remains after the final credits. and the flavor of a lost period. the image of a hero who reminds one of the parts of Fantomas series. and the surrealistic story. a film who has the gift to be a nostalgic , provocative experience. and this is a virtue with large significance. because the idea of justice, the traces of late romanticism, the music and the landscapes are seductive refuges. a film like an enigma who gives suggestions more than questions. a correct mystery film. and the resurrection of a special discover of society. so, a must see.
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"Judex" is so much more than an adventure/mystery film!
mofessor-587-59072526 August 2013
What a strange and wonderful film this is. If you find yourself bored beyond belief during the early moments, hang in there for about 13 or 14 minutes and your patience will be amply rewarded. From that point on, I caught myself saying "Wow!", over and over again! Some of the imagery is just fantastic. It reminded me in places of some of the Dr. Mabuse films from the 60s. I have a sub-titled version and the story was very easy to follow.

It is not the greatest film ever made, but "Judex" has become a permanent part of my collection, because it is so different and quite enjoyable. I got my copy from Sinister Cinema and their print is not as pristine as it could be, but it is certainly better than good.
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Nope. 1960s French Cinema Is Not For Me
strong-122-47888517 September 2014
The plain and obvious truth is - I just cannot get into French (nor Italian) films from the 1950s & 1960s.

Believe me, I've tried my damnedest to learn to appreciate these pictures for what they're supposedly worth, but, time & again, French cinema just bores me something awful. And, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why so many viewers seem prone to heap piles of praise on these films and give them unreasonably high ratings.

If you ask me (considering all of the French films that I've watched in the past year), I'd say that this is certainly one nation of movie-makers who are almost clueless about producing really worthwhile and entertaining motion pictures.

1963's Judex (directed by Georges Franju) is exactly the sort of "dullsville" French film-making that I'm ranting about here.

Dry, drab and shallow - Judex contained awful violence, terrible acting, idiotic situations, and brain-dead dialogue, all wrapped up in an asinine tale concerning a bunch of bungling criminals who couldn't get the job done right even if their very lives depended upon it.

At numerous times throughout its 90-minute running time I came mighty close to turning Judex right off, for good.

And, that's that!
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from another time
Vincentiu13 August 2014
a decent film. not great, not good, not convincing. seductive for its flavor and for beginning. for the references. and for few scenes. action, drama, justice, the silhouette of good guy are old ingredients and that reduced the surprises. the atmosphere is well , not bad for remind the Edgar Poe's Red Death . but something missing. too predictable, with few characters in wrong places, without a remarkable acting, it is only nice and, maybe, useful for remember the spirit of old French cinema. but, despite the story, it has the sin to seems almost boring. and that could be all. without great virtues or ambitions, it is a decent movie. and that status could be enough for viewer.
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Beautiful homage to silent serials
Igenlode Wordsmith4 September 2014
I haven't seen the original Judex, but I've seen Ultus, the equivalent British serial of the era... and I definitely recognise the style here. Multiple disguises, hairbreadth escapes from death, jawdropping coincidences, gadgetry and sleight of hand... and villains who never kill their victims when they ought to!

The print in the BFI National Archive was in beautiful condition (save for some oversized and rather intrusive subtitling), and this film is visually and musically stunning; the Maurice Jarre soundtrack is lovely, fitting and eerie. The morality of the story -- despite its simplistic chase format -- is surprisingly grey, with Jacqueline the only pure innocent (and thus, alas, the least interesting character). It's hard not to sympathise with Favraux in his situation, despite everything that we learn, or with young Morales, caught between the ruthless woman he loves and his long-lost father, and Judex himself finds his self-appointed mission of punishment harder and harder to fulfil.

Scenes like the masked ball (shrouded in almost surreal mystery, since it is not until afterwards that we have any idea what was going on!) and the spider-like climb of Judex' minions to the roof are very memorable, while the film also has a nice line in self-deflating humour, courtesy of the fiction-obsessed detective Cocantin and his rapport with small children. For such a preposterous comic-strip confection the plot holds together quite well, although having displayed such crowning ineptitude in their first attempt to kill Jacqueline (and what happened to the original idea of questioning her first?), it's hard to understand why the plotters don't just make away with her immediately the next time they get the opportunity!

The one thing that really grated, as with all old historical dramas, was the very 'modern' hairstyles and make-up used on all the eye-candy characters in order to make them attractive to a contemporary 1960s audience -- the result now, of course, is that instead of appearing subconsciously appealing they appear distractingly out of period. It's hard to credit a swooning damsel of 1916 when she is made up to look more like Brigitte Bardot...

Casting a professional magician as Judex enables the character to perform some impressive sleight-of-hand, and there are some subtle references to the original era, like the opening iris shot, the super-advanced (and supersized) antique surveillance gadgetry, and the title cards setting the various scenes. But perhaps the most impressive thing is that this is basically played entirely 'straight': it's not a tongue-in-cheek homage to pulp serials, it's presented in its own right as a piece of poetry for us to suspend disbelief -- a 1914 adventure of a mysterious caped avenger, an athletic, resourceful villainess, and a celestial innocent who sought to redeem her father's deeds.
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Crime, French Style!
gavin694226 August 2014
Favraux, an unscrupulous banker, receives a threatening note, signed by "Judex", demanding that he pay back the people he has swindled. He refuses, and apparently dies after a midnight toast at his masked ball.

Franju has taken a page from the early French serials with this tale, calling to mind such classics as Fantomas (which gets a nice nod). The story could be told in several chapters, but luckily for us it was all put together in one film. The incredible costumes, the twists and turns of crime and justice... this is perfection.

The name of Franju does not seem to be well-known in the United States, which is unfortunate. Between this and "Eyes Without a Face", he is something of a master and should be recognized as such.
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