Judex (1963 film)

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Directed by Georges Franju
Produced by Robert de Nesle
Written by Jacques Champreux
Francis Lacassin
Starring Channing Pollock
Francine Bergé
Édith Scob
Jacques Jouanneau
Théo Sarapo
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Marcel Fradetal
Edited by Gilbert Natot
Distributed by CFFP
Release date
December 4, 1963
July 9, 1964[1]
Running time
103 min.
Country France
Language French

Judex is a 1963 French-language French-Italian crime film remake of the 1916 French film serial of the same name concerning the adventures of pulp hero Judex. Directed by French filmmaker Georges Franju, the film stars Channing Pollock as Judex/Vallieres, Édith Scob as Jacqueline and Francine Bergé as Diana.


The plot revolves the banker Favraux, receiving a threatening note from Judex demanding that he pay back people he has swindled. He is later drugged by Judex and locked away. Meanwhile, the former governess, Diana, kidnaps Jacqueline to try to get the banker's money.


The production of Judex happened by chance. French writer Francis Lacassin was writing an article on French film, and while doing research he was approached by a production manager with an idea for a film, when he suggested to do a film on Judex.[2] The story came to Jacques Champreux who was the grandson of the original creator of Judex, Louis Feuillade.[2] Champreux has been a fan of director Georges Franju and asked him to make the film, who accepted despite having a larger desire to remake Fantômas.[2] Franju was not very interested in the character or original story of Judex, stating that "Judex is the only film of Feuillade that isn't good Feuillade," but he wanted to recreate the film in the style of early French cinema that he remembered from his childhood.[2][3] Jacques Champreux's idea for the film was to combine Franju's film style with the elements of the story in the original Judex and started writing the screenplay with that in mind.[2] Champreux and Franju had the film open with a costume ball where everyone is wearing animal masks. This scene is influenced by French cartoonist J.J. Grandville, who depicted people with the heads of animals and birds.[2]


Channing Pollock, who was a famous conjurer in cabaret circles, was cast as Judex.[2] Pollock had been in several films beforehand and the backing producers wanted to make him into a Rudolph Valentino-type star.[2] Franju and Champreux made his character into more of a magical character rather than a "dispenser of justice".[2] Many actresses were thought of for the role of Diana Monti, originally played by Musidora in the Feuillade's Judex.[2] Franju and Champreaux wanted someone who would "still look good even in the dark" and originally desired to have Brigitte Bardot as Diana Monti which excited their producers.[2] After seeing Les Abysses at the Cannes Film Festival, they chose Francine Bergé who also played the role of Michele in the film.[2][4] Franju cast Édith Scob as Jacqueline who he had worked with on his previous films, including Eyes Without a Face and Thérèse Desqueyroux.[5][6][7]


Release and reception[edit]

Judex was released on December 4, 1963, in France.[1] The general reception for the French critics of Judex was fairly positive, with most critics applauded the homage to the original silent film serial while noting the problems that arose when with the over-conscientious approach to style and atmosphere.[8] A critic from L'Express wrote that the film was "pure entertainment, pure charm, a total success".[9][10] while another from Les Nouvelles littéraires called the film's pacing "lazy" and the film direction "nonchalant, not to say laborious".[8] Claude Mauriac of Le Figaro littéraire wrote that the film did not let the audience relate to the action as it was too caught up attracting them to the "plastic beauty" of the film.[8] The film opened up to generally positive review in the United States as well. Variety wrote a positive review stating that the film was "...a successful homage to the French film serials of the early, silent days...[the film] does not send up this form of pic but rather captures its essential simplicity, adventurousness and innocence."[11] Time also wrote a positive review stating "Judex has too much low-key charm and seriousness to be wildly funny, but Director Franju seems content to woo a minority taste."[12] The New York Times wrote a negative review, stating that Judex "suffers from several afflictions, one of which is ambiguity. It is hard to tell whether Georges Franju, who made it, wants us to laugh at it or take it seriously."[13]

Modern reception has been generally positive. Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader wrote that Judex was "one of the better features of [Franju's] middle period".[14] Time Out wrote that the film is "superbly elegant" and an "enjoyable tribute to the adventure fantasies of Louis Feuillade".[15]

Home video[edit]

A Region 2 release of Judex was released on August 25, 2008, by Eureka in their Masters of Cinema series.[16] This release also included the 1973 film Nuits Rouges also directed by Franju.[16]



  1. ^ a b Erickson, Hal. "Judex Overview". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Judex (Supplemental interview with Jacques Champreux on DVD) (in French). The Masters of Cinema. 2008 [1963]. 
  3. ^ Ince 2005, p. 58.
  4. ^ "Les Abysses > Cast". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  5. ^ "Eyes Without a Face > Cast". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  6. ^ "Judex > Cast". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  7. ^ "Thérèse Desqueyroux > Cast". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  8. ^ a b c Ince 2005, p. 57.
  9. ^ "Judex review in L'Express". L'Express. 30 January 1964. 
  10. ^ Ince 2005, p. 56.
  11. ^ Variety. 1 January 1963 http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117792204.html?categoryid=31&cs=1. Retrieved 2009-06-14.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Cinema: Period Pop". Time. 13 May 1966. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  13. ^ "Judex review". The New York Times. 26 April 1966. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  14. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "Judex - Capsule by Jonathan Rosenbaum". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  15. ^ "Judex Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out Chicago". Time Out. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  16. ^ a b " Dvdbeaver.com" Judex Franju Nuits Rouge dvdbeaver.com Retrieved: October 25, 2008.


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