In this breezy, dreamlike 1917 French serial, an enormous pack of hounds runs with the car of the dorky title hero (Rene Creste) as he drives around the Paris suburbs in his flowing black cape, righting wrongs and generally taking care of business; one of these dogs even rings the gate bell for him at one of his stops. These glorious, goofy mutts are emblematic of what makes Louis Feuillade a greater director of popular cinema than Spielberg or Lucas; his serials from the teens may be the greatest of all adventure films, representing the essence and peak of fantasy filmed on real locations. Less sublime or mysterious than Les vampires or Tih Minh (which is even better), Judex proved to be a bigger hit than either, and even spawned an inferior sequel. The surveillance camera/TV/mirror inside Judex's secret cave, relentlessly tracking the banker villain in his cell, presaged Lang's Mabuse, Orwell's Big Brother, and all the versions of Batman, and marks the genteel Feuillade, a spiritual contemporary of Lewis Carroll, as one of the inventors of 20th-century paranoia. It all runs more than six hours, but there's not a better movie in town. With the great Musidora, Yvette Andreyor, Marcel Levesque, and Bout de Zan, all Feuillade regulars.
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