Jean Durand: Zigoto, 1912

Zigoto promène ses amis
R: Jean Durand. D: Lucien Bataille, Gaston Modot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912
Print: Filmmuseum Amsterdam

Zigoto et la blanchisseuse
R: Jean Durand. D: Lucien Bataille, Berthe Dagmar, Édouard Grisollet, Gaston Modot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

Jean Durand got his start, as did many of the film pioneers, in the café-concerts or music halls of Paris. In 1908, Georges Fagot introduced Durand to Charles Pathé who was constantly recruiting talent from the Parisian stage for his studio, and Durand went to work very briefly at Pathé. He left Pathé for Societé Lux, where he made more than forty films, most of which have been lost. In 1910, Gaumont hired Durand as a replacement for Roméo Bosetti, who had gone to Italy, and he was charged with directing the burlesque Calino series. Durand, it turns out, was a master of burlesque. (…)”
Dayna Oscherwitz, Mary Ellen Higgins: The A to Z of French Cinema. Scarecrow Press 2009, p. 148/49

“The Pouics are little known as a name now, but they were France’s version of the Keystone Cops – their predecessors, in fact, since the group was formed in 1910, two years before the Keystone company was created. They were formed by the director Jean Durand, who joined the Gaumont company in 1910 as its director of comedy films. He quickly established a troupe of comedy performers with the necessary talents to help feed the conveyer-belt system of one-reel film production, as audiences worldwide demanded their weekly dose of comedy. Les Pouics, or Les Pouites (‘bedbugs’), on occasion billed under this name, supplied a team of comedians with precise acrobatic and pantomimic skills, suitable for all occasions, and with more than a gift for chaos.
We know the names of several of Les Pouics. Most notable at the time was Ernest Bourbon, who starred in Gaumont comedies 1912-14 as Onésime, films whose penchant for arresting absurdity (camels in living rooms) endeared him to the Surrealists. A Pouic who would work with the Surrealists directly was Gaston Modot. Just another member of the comic team when he first worked for Durand in 1910, Modot appeared in many Onésime and Calino films, before enjoying a notable acting career over many years, working for Abel Gance, René Clair, Marcel Carné (Les Enfants du Paradis), Jean Renoir (La Règle du Jeu) and Luis Buñuel in L’Age D’Or. Other Pouics included Clément Migé, already well-known as Calino, Lucien Bataille, who played the comic character Zigoto (1911-1912), Jeanne-Marie Laurent and Paulos. Les Pouics were recruited from circus and music hall backgrounds, and specialised in organised mayhem, a wholesale onslaught upon normality. Things existed only that they might be destroyed.”
The Bioscope

“As Zigoto, comic Lucien Bataille is one of more quietly eccentric denizens of the outrageous European film comedy universe. In some ways his body language and comedic attitude foreshadows Jacques Tati as Zigoto ambles to a decidedly different drummer. Bataille left Gaumont in 1912 and headlined in a new series for Éclair where he was re-dubbed Casimir. He later worked as a character actor in films such as Le Miracle des loup (Miracle of the Wolves 1924) and La Coquille et la clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman 1928).”
Steve Massa
cruel and unusual comedy

>>> Jean Durand

>>> Durand’s western Coeur Ardent: A Camargue-Western