Dans les airs
R: Jean Durand. D: Joë Hamman, Jules Védrines. P: Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France. Fr 1910
German titles and inserts
Jean Durand (1882-1946)
“Actor and director. 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 Société 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. (…)
Durand went on to create two other very successful burlesque series for Gaumont, the Zigoto series, which ran in 1912, and the Onésime series, which ran from 1912 until 1915 (…). Durand’s burlesque was extremely physical, even more so than Bosetti’s, and to that end he pioneered the use of stunt people (as things were always getting broken and people hit). His influence was far-reaching in later burlesque and slapstick performances like the Keystone Cops or the Marx Brothers. In about 1910, Durand began working with the Wild West actor/director Joë Hamman. Some of these Westerns were episodes of his burlesque series. Examples are Calino veut être cowboy (1911) and Onésime sur le sentier de la guerre (1913). Others, such as Pendaison à Jefferson city (1911) and Le Railway de mort (1912), are newly created Westerns. These films, at Hamman’s suggestion, were shot in France’s Camargue region of France, which is somewhat reminiscent of some Wild West landscapes. The Camargue Western was one of the casualties of the war, but Durand’s influence may have ultimately led to the Spaghetti Westerns of later days. (…) Interestingly, Durand’s comic touch is something he does not seem to have been able to turn on and off, and many of his Westerns have elements of burlesque and therefore come off as parodies of the more classic vein of the genre.
On the whole, Durand made a number of films of a wide variety. There are more than one hundred titles that he is known to have made. He was the third-most-important director during his time at Gaumont, after Louis Feuillade, of course, and Léonce Perret. (…) Despite his enormous contribution to early film, Durand was ignored by the first generation of film historians and was thus more or less forgotten by film scholars until quite recently. His work has lately been reevaluated.”
Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins
Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias