Thursday, 24 December 2009


Darbois, the stubborn head of a rubber company, finds himself continually hectored by letters inviting him to join a ‘Rubber Trust’ with rival businessman Jacob Berwick, an invitation he rebuffs politely. Berwick, displeased at the response, hires a private detective named Julius Kieffer to kidnap Darbois’ trusted inventor Brémond, in the hopes of discovering his secret recipe for artificial rubber. Kieffer employs the assistance of an actor to dress up as Darbois’ wife in order to infiltrate his office and steal information on Brémond’s whereabouts. Darbois, feeling defenceless, hires himself a detective who, unbeknownst to him, also happens to be Kieffer. Kieffer uses his position to his advantage, but while he manages to eventually track down Brémond and question him, he underestimates the young inventor’s intelligence and soon finds himself on the receiving end of an ingenious ruse.

The Trust, or The Battles For Money is a clever forerunner to director Louis Feuillade’s enchanting crime serials such as Fantômas and Judex. Berwick makes for a convincingly greedy villain, and Kieffer is the first in a long line of Feuilladean double agents. While a lot of the action is confined to interior stages, the spaces are used wisely and many of the important events take place outside – the kidnapping in particular is all the more frightening for taking place in broad daylight. It’s all essentially a long, drawn-out joke, but this doesn’t stop it being very watchable, and even quite thrilling. No doubt Feuillade knew he was on to something here.

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