Le mort qui tue (1913)

Article #702 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 2-15-2001
Posting date: 7-15-2001
Directed by Louis Feuillade
Featuring Rene Navarre, Edmond Breon, Georges Melchior

A man is framed for murder, arrested, and then killed in prison, and his body vanishes. Then when a pearl necklace is stolen, fingerprints identify the dead man as the culprit.

I think it’s kind of odd that the only episode of the Fantomas serial that is available in the United States is JUVE VS. FANTOMAS, the second of the series. Not only is it the most episodic of the first three episodes, it ends with a cliffhanger, whereas episodes one and three do not. This one is the third episode of the serial, and it runs an hour and a half, which qualifies it as a movie in its own right. It also has title cards in French, and though I don’t speak French, I am grateful for the little time I’ve spent comparing French movie titles with their English translations; it gives me at least some grounding in certain words. Take the word “Mort”, for instance; if you compare the French title of this movie with the English title, you should figure out that “Mort” stands for “Dead Man”; since the word “Mort” pops up very often in the titles of this movie, it is a useful word to know.

The small smattering of French does indeed help in this one, which is more complicated than the first episode. The story concentrates on the investigation by Juve’s assistant Fandor (Juve’s absence from the proceedings is explained in an early headline), and the story does get a bit involved, so it pays to pay attention. It does end with a couple of whopping plot twists, which really go a long way to making this episode a lot of fun.


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