Fantômas the Complete Saga
Worldcat Link: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/670058288
This DVD release of the early French serial gives one the opportunity to “binge-view” the whole thing in a way that never would have happened a century ago, making more obvious some of the plot holes and redundancies, but is nevertheless an enjoyable presentation. The diabolical Fantômas (Rene Navarre, who apparently found it difficult not to be recognized after making the series) is a master criminal who disguises himself and plots gigantic schemes to make himself rich or, as often as not, simply to achieve crime for its own sake. He is pursued, and sometimes pursues the brilliant Inspector Juve (Edmund Breon, who went on to “Gaslight” and “The Woman in the Window”) and his journalistic sidekick, Fandor (Georges Melchior, later in “Rocambole,” another crime drama). This series came at the end of France’s dominance of world cinema, and in someway represents the high point of filmmaking in the pre-World War One period, in spite of its narrative ludicrousness. The DVD includes a bombastic soundtrack, sampled from music libraries, and a somewhat disjointed commentary by film historian David Kalat, who freely admits that he can’t pronounce French words. In spite of that, I found much of what he had to say informative and thought-provoking.