Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Hidden Cinema of Jean Rollin: La Griffe D’Horus (1990)

Among the most intriguing abandoned projects of Jean Rollin’s career is the proposed television production La Griffe D’Horus, a half-hour script Rollin had fashioned on pulp detective Harry Dickson. Sadly, due to the inability to get funding or find a home for the project, the only thing that survives for La Griffe D’Horus was a rough under three minute shot-on-video test that can now be seen on the German edition of The Grapes of Death as an extra. Rollin recounted the frustrating journey of the project to Peter Blumenstock in the pages of Video Watchdog and Virgins and Vampires:

“One day, a guy named Gerard Dole called me up and asked for a meeting. He said that he was a specialist on famous pulp-detective Harry Dickson and that he had also written a collection of related stories called The New Adventures of Harry Dickson…We approached Channel 1, and they were interested, but they said they would have to buy the rights to the character first. The problem was, the original stories were written by Jean Ray, and the film rights were absolutely impossible to get; the more recent ones were written by anonymous writers, which makes the matter equally difficult.
We found a small publisher…but the first thing out of their mouth was ‘Jean Rollin will never touch Harry Dickson as long as we live!’ They HATED me!”

Rollin called the extremely short surviving footage of La Griffe D’Horus more of a ‘screen-test’ than anything else and told Blumenstock that it was shot quickly in ‘one afternoon’ with Harry Dickson expert and book-cover designer Jean-Michel Nicollet starring.

Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs expand a bit on the story in Immoral Tales by writing that the footage compiled actually equaled ’22 minutes’, but that longer version has not appeared to my knowledge. They also noted that the short film was very much in the spirit of Rollin’s original works, as it shot with a, “group of friends, enthusiasts and non-professionals.” Noting that La Griffe D’Horus was just, “one in a long series of disappointments that the 1980’s brought to Rollin”, Tohill and Tombs description of the lost project reminds us that it could have been a really special work that could have helped Rollin in the roughest section of his career. Thankfully a rebirth was on the way…


dfordoom said...

I'm quite fascinated by the idea of the Harry Dickson stories, which apparently combined crime and supernatural themes, so I've just ordered a copy of a book containing English translations of several.

It sounds like it could have ben an intriguing TV series.

Jeremy Richey said...

Cool...let me know how that book is as I am curious.