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Edouard Mathe who he? If his name sounds familiar, you might have seen him in a Louis Feuillade short or serial from 1914 – 24.

Edouard Mathe not looking very happy

Edouard Mathe’s most famous role, despite being overshadowed by Musidora, was in ‘Les Vampires’ (1915). In ‘Les Vampires’ he played Philippe Guérande a journalist investigating and hoping to take down the notorious criminal gang, Les Vampires, over-running Paris. Philippe Guérande was not the usual crusading journalist he wasn’t that good at it, if it wasn’t for his friend Mazamette (marvelously played by Marcel Levesque) he and his relations would have died a thousand times. After several kidnappings Guérande’s mother points out it wouldn’t be safe to go out, particularly after the incident at the window. In this Guérande is sat next to an open window even though he knows the Vampires are after him, and what happens next? He doesn’t get a delivery of flowers that’s what. It’s very inventive so I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it. In the end financee #2 turned out to be better at dealing with vamps. Edouard Mathe is in ‘Judex’ (1916) too, downgraded to the titular character’s brother from his “heroic” role in Les Vampires. ‘Judex’ is the better serial but ‘Les Vampires’ is more inventive.

Why do I like Edouard Mathe?  Mathe is like Clark Kent if he never turned in to superman, he always looks slightly worried. I like his understatedness, a port of quietness after viewing a few scenery chewing flicks. He’s a reassuring presence, when I watched ‘Tih Minh’ as soon as Mathe turned up in ‘Tih Minh’ it immediately became better even if the famous house of lost women scene happened before his entrance. I do like the scene in ‘Tih Mihn’ where our heroes are debating whether to drive to the baddies’ hideout & walk back because they don’t have enough petrol or send the ladies back in the car and walk to the baddies’ HQ. They chose the latter, very gentlemanly.

Edouard Mathe definitely had some intelligence as he became director of the Galeries Saint-Hubert Theatre before his death. I’m not sure what sort of directors position he took, google translate isn’t that good. A director like a director of a business? Or a director of a theatre in the sense he choses what is performed at the theatre? Or the usual type of director who gives notes on how actors should act in the show?

I only know this last fact from an obituary in an issue of film magazine Hebdofilm (dated 1932). I was touched that several years after Mathe’s last film anyone cared enough to write an obituary. I think Mathe got a mention because the writer knew him & gives truth to the statements about the charming aspects of Mathe’s personality.

Edouard Mathe looking happier!

A brief biography:

Edouard Mathe (1886 -1934 or 32) was a silent film actor who almost exclusively appeared in Gaumont films made by Louis Feuillade from 1914-24. His first film was a short, ‘L’hôtel de la gare’ and his last was ‘Les deux gosses’ (according to IMDB).

He was born in Australia in 1886 and went from there to France. After acting in the theatre for a while he started making films with the celebrated film maker Louis Feuillade. He appeared in such early film serials like ‘Les Vampires'(1915), Judex(1916), La Nouvelle Mission de Judex(1917), Tih Minh (1918),Vendémiaire(1918), Barrabas (1919) and a cameo in a spoof of crime serials by Jacques Feyder called Le pied qui étreint(1916). The above films still exist in the archives.

After Feuillade’s death coincidently Edouard Mathe stopped making films and returned to the theatre, organising a successful tour with his wife and appearing in several long running productions which were specifically written for him including: “The trunk of Zinder” (285 performances), “The Man of September 4” (173 performances) and the three acts of “Fot the Zebie”.

At the time of his death he had become the director of  the Theater of Galeries Saint-Hubert in Brussels, Belgium. He was married when he died.

And that’s it, I still have no idea how he ended up in France from Australia and is Edouard Mathe his real name?

 

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