Perret’s ‘Le roman d’un mousse’

Le roman d’un mousse
R: Léonce Perret. K: Georges Specht. Ba: Robert-Jules Garnie. D: Adrien Petit, Maurice Luguet, Louis Leubas, Armand Dutertre, Emile André, Armand Numès, Angèle Lérida, Paul Manson. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1913/1914
Print: Archives françaises du film / Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique

“If Feuillade’s Fantômas films remain one of the high points of Gaumont’s production during the 1913 – 1914 season, Perret’s two blockbusters, L’Enfant de Paris and Le roman d’un mousse, certainly constitute another. Both were ‘super-productions’ of eight reels or more, putting them in the same category as Pathé’s Germinal and Film D’Art’s Les Trois Mousquetaires. And both were exhibited as exclusivités on cinema programs, divided into two more or less equal parts by an interval, in a successful attempt to equate them with the theatrical performance of a play. In their choice of subjects, these films combine criminal and detective features of the Zigomar, Main de fer and Fantômas series with others having to do with the bourgeois family of the contemporary melodrama. On the one hand, consequently, they offer excursions through a variety of social and geographical sites, from passing tours of the haut bourgeois playgrounds to ‘slumming’ experiences of the ‘down and out’ margins. On the other, they reintroduce the story of the ‘lost child’ that threatens the very continuance of the bourgeois family as the locus of social value and order. And this re-merging of the two recently divergent genres takes its most explicit shape (…) in the character of the adolescent boy who is at first the crimimals’ victim and then their nemesis as the detective hero.”
Richard Abel: The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema 1896-1914. Updated and Expanded Edition. University of California Press 1998, p. 380/81

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