An early Maurice Tourneur

491-le friquet

Le friquet (Frgm.)
R: Maurice Tourneur. B: Jean Joseph-Renaud , Willy (play), Gyp (novel). D: Pauline Polaire, Henry Roussel, César, André Dubosc, Renée Sylvaine, Gilbert Dalleu. P: Éclair. Fr 1913

Print temporarily not available

“One of Tourneur’s most acclaimed films was this (…) tale – one of Tourneurs earliest important surviving works – which was long thought to be the first film he directed at Éclair. Scripted by the author-director Jean Joseph-Renaud, it stars the well-known vaudeville artist Polaire (Emile-Marie Bouchard-Zouzé, 1873-1941), a close friend of Colette, in her first film. A tale of a young girl seeking love, Tourneur’s film takes in the elements of abandonment, abuse, and sacrifice. (…) The film was one of the earliest by Tourneur to be shown in the United States – where the director was unmentioned in the credits. It is ‘well staged and photographed’, wrote ‘Moving Picture World’ (4/11/14), ‘and there are charming exteriors and fine interiors.’ There is also comedy when, for the first time in her life, Marie encounters a real bed and ‘toilet accessories’, in the home of the mayor.”
Harry Waldman: Maurice Tourneur: The Life and Films. McFarland 2001, p. 19/20

“(…) the writer whose pseudonym was Gyp (1849-1932) was born Sybille Gabrielle Marie Antoinette de Riquetti de Mirabeau, Comtesse de Martel de Janville. (…) As Gyp, she pretended to be an army officer with a satirical view of fashionable high society. In her writing, Gyp employed the enfant terrible as narrator. Gyp aroused her enemies, created political excitement, and won the respect of Henry James. She was a combination of fanatical nationalist and right-wing anarchist, calling herself an Anti-Semite. Her influence during the Dreyfus Affair was destructive, and any film based on her work was bound to create a stir. (…) Tourneur adapted several works by the rabble-rousing Gyp before coming to the United States.”
Harry Waldman, op. cit., p. 8

Tourneur in Hollywood
Like D.W. Griffith, Mickey Nielan, Rex Ingram, and a host of other American directors who reached their stride in the mid-1910s, only to fall into unemployment, unproductivity or hackdom by the mid to late 1920s, Maurice Tourneur was a victim of the American studio system and the concomitant institutionalization of what has become known as classical Hollywood narrative. Like Griffith, Tourneur fought against the encroaching power of the film monopolies, attempting not only to produce what he perceived to be high quality, artistic films, which went against the conventions of standardized, genre production, but also to polemicize against the overriding profit mania of the film factory. For a brief ten years, from 1914 to 1924, Tourneur maintained his status as an independent producer-director, financed for much of that time by the film entrepreneur, Jules Brulatour. (…) In his best surviving work, one can see Tourneur clinging to conventions, which Noel Burch has called the “Primitive Mode,” but which might better be identified as the road not taken by classical Hollywood cinema. Their visual theatricality and self-conscious compositions would be antithetical to the plot and logic driven narratives Hollywood would come to prefer. Likewise, Tourneur’s oftentimes fragmented and episodic narratives consciously defy the rules of classical plot construction, as they were being formulated by industry practitioners.”
Jan-Christopher Horak
UCLA Film & Television Archive

>>> Tourneur films on this website: Figures de CireAlias Jimmy Valentine