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20 November 2013

Édouard Mathé

Édouard Mathé (1886-1934) was an extremely popular French actor, in particular in the silent crime serials by Louis Feuillade.

Edouard Mathé
French postcard. Sent by mail in 1922. Photo: Film Gaumont.

Les Vampires


Édouard Mathé was born in Australia (unknown where exactly), in 1886.

In 1914 he started his career as film actor at the French company Gaumont. He remained a fixed actor for Gaumont director Louis Feuillade, who already directed him in Mathé’s first film L'Hôtel de la gare (1914).

After some ten shorts in 1914-1915, Feuillade replaced his former leading actor René Navarre by Mathé and gave him the leading role of the journalist Philippe de Guérande, protagonist of the crime serial film Les Vampires (1915-1916).

Together with a reformed criminal, Mazamette (Marcel Lévesque), Guérande fights the gang of the Vampires including the fatal beauty Irma Vep, played by Musidora.

As the police was ridiculed in the series, the real police prefect of Paris forbade the screenings for a while.

Mathé also acted in Feuillade’s subsequents serials Judex (1916-1917), La nouvelle mission de Judex (1917-1918), Tih Minh (1918-1919), Vendémiaire (1918-1919), Barrabas (1919), Les deux gamines (1921), L’Orpheline (1921), and Parisette (1921-1922), the latter three starring Sandra Milowanoff.

In-between Feuillade continued to direct Mathé in several individual films, which though were less successful.

Edouard Mathé in La nouvelle mission de Judex
French postcard by Coquemer Gravures, Paris. Photo: Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917-1918).

Edouard Mathé
French postcard by Coquemer Gravures, Paris. Photo: Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917-1918).

Judex


After the upheaval of Les Vampires (later on cherished by the Surrealists), Judex (Louis Feuillade (1916-1917) was less anti-establishment and closer to bourgeois morals.

The positive hero, played by René Cresté, is a black caped avenger who kidnaps the evil banker Favraux (Louis Leubas), who has caused his father's death.

Musidora is the banker's evil mistress and governess of his grandson, Marcel Lévesque the clumsy amateur detective Cocantin, Yvette Andreyor the banker's innocent daughter and widower Jacqueline, and Olinda Mano her little son Jean.

Mathé played Cresté’s brother, Roger de Tremeuse.

Henceforth Mathé often played a relative or buddy of René Cresté in subsequent Feuillade serials such as the sequel to Judex: La nouvelle mission de Judex/The New Mission of Judex (1917-1918), Tih Minh (1918-1919) and Vendémiaire (1918-1919), until Cresté was fed up with Feuillade’s serials

Cresté started his own film company, with disastruous effects. He died of tuberculosis in 1922.

Mathé himself quitted filmmaking with Feuillade in 1922 after Parisette (Louis Feuillade, 1921).

After a handful of films in 1923-1924, including the two Mario Ausonia films Mes p’tits (1923) and La course à l’amour/The race to love (1924), both directed by Charles Keppens and Paul Barlatier, he quitted acting in film altogether.

Édouard Mathé died in Brussels in 1934.

Edouard Mathé
French postcard by Editions Cinémagazine, no. 83. Photo: Studio Henri Lebrun.

René Cresté, Edouard Mathé
French postcard by Coquemer Gravures, Paris. Photo: Gaumont. Still for La nouvelle mission de Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1917-1918) with René Cresté.

Sources: Wikipedia (English, French and Italian), and IMDb.

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