By Godfrey Daniel (Graydon Carter)
Arnaud de Boulanger: First car chase
Boulanger was one of the first to see the cinematic possibilities of a tightly-shot car chase through dense city streets. Alas, the budget for his first film venture was limited. Boulanger called on his cousin, a bigwig at Citroën, to see if he could borrow two of their speedy DS models. The company nixed that idea but loaned him two 2CV’s. The site of those two put-puts plodding through the streets of post-war Menton failed to wow critics or audiences. Rapide’s box office tally barely covered petrol.
Ricard Feigé: First superhero film
DC and Marvel superheroes were out of his league. So Feigé hit the drawing board and came up with Croissant. Uniquely French. Super powers were limited and his star didn’t catch on with audiences. Most felt he had spent too much time nibbling at his namesake. The original and only print of Feigé’s first effort was burned when the embers of a burning cigarette destroyed his makeshift studio in a suburb of Lyon.
Picard Picard: First animated film
When Picard went to work at Billancourt Studios, his first thought was to take on Disney with “Pas Mal, the Wascally Wat.” The plan was to oppose Mickey’s wholesomeness with a character a bit more lascif. A bit more Gallic. When even French audiences blanched at the little fellow’s licentiousness, Pas Mal hit the skids. Picard too. Last seen, he was running at a stall at the marché aux puces selling vintage Pas Mal doodads.
Hector de la Cortuna: First horror film
Cortuna grew up watching his father’s stuttery reel of Le Manoir du Diable. The moment the whiskers had settled on his face, he was writing the script for his first horror film, Le Clown en Colère. It was infantile at best and Cortuna cast a wayward uncle in the title role as Guignol, a minstrel who killed children and dismembered them. Once the censors (and parents) got wind of it, they shut poor Cortuna’s operation down. He and the uncle moved to New York, where for a brief moment, they were the talk of the town.