Fantomas vs. Fantomas (1914)

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*. This is the fourth of five Fantômas serials and you may be wondering if there is some overarching structure taking shape. At the very least, is there a sense that this series is going somewhere?
*. Not really, but that’s the nature of serials. They just keep blowing at a feather to keep it in the air. The plot here is ramshackle and I was never entirely clear on what was going on. Who was the man in the Fantômas costume who is murdered? What is Juve’s role within the police investigation? What was Fantômas’s plan for getting away with the gang’s loot?
*. Such a plot is designed as just a clothesline to peg a number of big scenes or sequences on. The same structure informed Juve vs. Fantômas, for example, where we got the train crash and the snake coming in the bedroom window. But here there are no such moments. The possibilities are there (the bleeding wall, the three Fantômas figures at the ball), but they aren’t well developed.

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*. As with the previous film (The Murderous Corpse), Juve’s role is downplayed and Fandor’s built up, which isn’t a good thing in my opinion. Juve and Fantômas should be the great adversaries, like Holmes and Moriarty. Instead, Juve fades into the background. Indeed, so does Fantômas as his gang of “apaches” takes center stage. They aren’t very interesting either, but I do like their appearance as workmen in white coveralls. They look like one of the costumed gangs out of the old Batman television show.

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