IN THE creative period that followed the Armistice--a period which may arbitrarily be regarded as lasting until the end of 1923--the French film played an important part. Much that was produced during those years left a great deal to be desired, but it was at this time that, through the influence of several directors, critics and writers, the intellectuals began to take a keen interest in the cinema. The Swedish films first, and then the German films, gave rise to new theories and new concepts. Many of them were erroneous or exaggerated, yet it was thanks to the various enthusiasms and experiments of those four years that cinematography as a whole managed to extricate itself from the rut into which it seemed to be slipping.
Films made for the masses continued, of course, to be ground out, featuring ladies from the Comédie Française and full of unscrupulous crooks and intrepid police inspectors in the Judex tradition. Things like that do not disappear in five minutes. Gradually public taste developed; audiences learned to appreciate better-constructed films and more ingenious plots. It is difficult to realize that men like Baroncelli, L'Herbier, Raymond Bernard, Poirier and Tourjanski were once in the advance guard; nevertheless these honest workmen were among those who contributed to the development of the art, and it was during this period that they did their best and their most daring work. They educated the public, taught it to see and to use its imagination--not as Delluc and Sjöström did but with comparable results. From an historical point of view it would