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 CitroĆ«n, to see if he could borrow two of their speedy DS models. The company nixed that idea but loaned him two 2CVā€™s. The site of those two put-puts plodding through the streets of post-war Menton failed to wow critics or audiences. Rapideā€™s box office tally barely covered petrol.

Ricard FeigƩ: First superhero film
DC and Marvel superheroes were out of his league. So FeigĆ© hit the drawing board and came up with Croissant. Uniquely French. Super powers were limited and his star didnā€™t catch on with audiences. Most felt he had spent too much time nibbling at his namesake. The original and only print of FeigĆ©ā€™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 ā€œPas Mal, the Wascally Wat.ā€ The plan was to oppose Mickeyā€™s wholesomeness with a character a bit more lascif. A bit more Gallic. When even French audiences blanched at the little fellowā€™s licentiousness, Pas Mal hit the skids. Picard too. Last seen, he was running at a stall at the marchĆ© aux puces selling vintage Pas Mal doodads.

Hector de la Cortuna: First horror film
Cortuna grew up watching his fatherā€™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 ColĆØre. 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 Cortunaā€™s operation down. He and the uncle moved to New York, where for a brief moment, they were the talk of the town.