Fantomas

Notes from Friends of Fantômas

Andres Vidal writes: You guys are amazing. I only have seen Fantômas films in La Habana, Cuba, back in the late sixties. We loved them! There is a whole cultural thing in Cuba about this guy, too. I remember one of Cuba's principal actors started doing the twin roles of Fandor and Fantômas on live TV, in children's shows, afternoon variety sketches, etc. Something I heard from a Cuban today at work: "Naw. I'll lock this place up so tight that not even Fantômas can get in here!"

The films I saw in Cuba were those French films, "Fantômas," "Fantômas Unchained," and "Fantômas Versus Scotland Yard." [See The Fantômas Films for more information.] By the way, all foreign films taken to Cuba were subtitled. (Only some Russian films used dubbing but as a voice-over effect, where you could still hear the original language and then Russian over it. The whole thing was dubbed into Spanish so we could understand, of course.)

On my way to the US in 1974 I did find those Fantomas Mexican comic books. They were very puzzling to me as I was unaware of the whole Fantômas history until I stumbled upon your web site. The inspector was featured as having these huge handlebar mustaches. Was this character supposed to have this? My idea of the Inspector was Luis de Fune's contortionist face. The Cuban audiences loved him. Did he pass on, too? When?

It's fascinating that Fantômas crosses so many cultural barriers, and is still something of an icon among Cubans. As for Inspector Gerard's handlebar mustaches, they may be based on those of the actor who played Juve in Louis Feuillade's silent film serial. Unfortunately, Louis de Funès did pass away on January 27, 1983.

For more on Fantômas in Cuba, also see the note from Mario Nuñez.

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