Fantomas

The Fantômas Films: Fantômas contre Fantômas (1914)


Synopsis of Fantômas contre Fantômas:

The film opens with Fandor overhearing other café customers talking about a newspaper item which speculates that Juve and Fantômas are the same person and notes that Juve has been arrested as a "witness."

Cut to the room of Père Moche (Fantômas in disguise, of course), where he is turning over rent receipts to a bank messenger. The messenger goes upstairs to collect the rent from Paulet and Nini, a pimp (it's implied) and his woman. When Nini opens the door (blocking the camera's view) Paulet smashes the messenger over the head with a hammer—we see only the messenger's body falling forward into their apartment after the impact. In the confusion, Père Moche sneaks upstairs, grabs the messenger's satchel, and returns to his office to put it in his safe. When Paulet and Nini confront him (Paulet attempts to stab him), Père Moche disarms Paulet and then offers to help them out of their predicament.

Later, a new tenant is having her apartment partitioned because one of the rooms is too big. We see a new workman enter the room where the newly plastered wall has just been finished. He drives a nail into the wall—and blood runs out! The police are called, the wall is torn open and the bank messenger's body revealed. When the workman is questioned he hands the police a calling card: he is "Tom Bob, Private Investigator, New York."

We then see "Tom Bob" visit Lady Beltham, now married to a Duke. She recognizes him as Gurn/Fantômas, and he compels her to write an announcement of a charity ball to raise funds to capture Fantômas.

The night of the ball, we see Fandor disguising himself as Fantômas in his Man in Black costume: black bodysuit and hood. Also, a policeman has had the same idea. When Lady Beltham greets her guests she experiences consternation when she has to welcome two "Fantômases." And on their heels comes another Man in Black, whom she recognizes to her horror as the true Fantômas. During the dancing, the policeman and the true Fantômas collide, and go outside to settle the matter. Fandor follows at a distance. Suddenly Fantômas rushes back to get his cloak, wounded in the right arm. Fandor discovers the policeman's body with a knife protruding from its chest, but too late—Fantômas has escaped.

The police chief realizes that if Juve and Fantômas are the same person, the jailed Juve will be wounded on his right arm. The chief goes to the jail, where Juve is found drugged and, indeed, wounded on his right arm. On being awakened, he demands that they assemble the prison guards. Juve recognizes the guard who drugged him, and a vial of narcotic and a bloody knife are found in the guard's pockets. Juve is cleared of suspicion of being Fantômas and is secretly released.

In some ruins on the outskirts of Paris Fandor discovers Père Moche and a gang of apaches arguing over money. As Fandor watches from his hiding place Père Moche produces a letter from Fantômas to appease the gang, and they reluctantly leave. Then Père Moche pulls a strongbox from a nearby well and takes it into an abandoned building. Fandor follws and sees him pry up a flagstone and hide the strongbox underneath it. Père Moche leaves the building, unknowingly locking Fandor inside.

Cut to police headquarters where a group of workmen are filing through Juve's office to reach some scaffolding outside the window—when suddenly they attack Juve and tie him up. Juve is taken by the gang to the hideout, where Fandor has concealed himself in an empty wine cask. The gang dumps Juve next to the cask and start arguing about what to do with him. Juve hears Fandor's voice coming from the cask, directing him to pretend to be Fantômas and reveal that the strongbox is hidden under the flagstone. The ruse works.

Meanwhile, Tom Bob is bringing the cops to Père Moche's hideout. The gang has outlived its usefulness, and Fantômas wants all the money for himself. Juve convinces the gang inside the hideout that the approaching cops are more apaches in disguise. When the gang opens the door, they are all captured. But when Tom Bob spots Juve and Fandor, he slips away unnoticed.

He goes to Lady Beltham's villa, where he demands the money collected in the charity ball subscription. As he leaves with the money, he's seized by Juve and Fandor. But Fantômas has one more trick up is sleeve. As Juve and Fandor walk on either side of him, holding his arms, he shoves them into concealed pits dug on either side of the footpath, and escapes yet again.

—Et Al.

Return to filmography