TIH MINH (Louis Feuillade, 1918, France, 418m, BW)
Directed by Louis Feuillade
Written by Louis Feuillade
Starring Mary Harald
Cinematography Léon Klausse
Edited by Léon Klausse
30 November 1918
12 chapters (418 minutes)
Tih Minh tells the story of Jacques d'Athys who returns to his home in Nice after an expedition to Indochina. Tih Minh (Mary Harald), a young woman from Laos, accompanies him.
Athys and his servant, Placide, soon become involved with an international band of jewel thieves-cum-spies that include among its members a mysterious noble person, a hypnotist, and, an evil doctor who renders their victims amnesiacs.
Unknown to Athys, he has returned to France with a book that contains a coded message revealing the location of treasure and sensitive government intelligence. This makes him and Tih Minh the target of the spies who will stop at nothing to obtain the book.
Mary Harald - Tih Minh
René Cresté - Jacques d'Athys
Georges Biscot - Placido
Édouard Mathé - Sir Francis Grey
Louis Leubas - Kistna
Gaston Michel - Dr. Gilson
Marcel Marquet - Dr. Clauzel (as Marquet)
Émile André - Dr. Davesnes
Georgette Faraboni - La marquise Dolorès
Jeanne Rollette - Rosette
Lugane - Jane d'Athys
Madame Lacroix - Mme d'Athys
Louis Feuillade's ridiculously entertaining 7-hour mystery serial features kidnappings, daring escapes, slapstick fistfights, secret messages coded in an ancient Hindu dialect, "forgetfulness potions," various forms of mind control, a mountaintop cliffhanging climax, and many, many badass disguises. It also uses an international espionage plot to reflect on World War I and allegorize contemporary French fears about the insidious nature of Bolshevism.
The hero is a French explorer and his chief rival is an evil German doctor named Marx. The hero's maid turns out to be a villainess who is secretly in Marx's employ and one of the key title cards is another character's incredulous exclamation that "Marx is here!" The entire espionage genre, including Fritz Lang's Mabuse cycle and the James Bond films, have their origins here but Feuillade's masterpiece remains the best movie of its kind.
Jacques d’Athys, a French adventurer, returns to his home in Nice after an expedition to Indochina where he has picked up a Eurasian fiancee and a book that, unbeknownst to him, contains a coded message revealing the whereabouts of both secret treasures and government intelligence. This makes him the target of foreign spies, including a Marquise of mysterious origin, a Hindu hypnotist and an evil German doctor, who will stop at nothing to obtain the book. Louis Feuillade’s 12 chapter, 7 hour serial is overflowing with action, thrills, humor and romance and is a strong contender for the title of possibly the most purely entertaining movie ever.
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