Marguerite Viel was a French filmmaker known primarily for her work in the 1930s, when her wide-ranging contributions to the cinema as a pioneering sound editor, dialogue writer, and director were often mentioned in the press. But Viel’s film career started a few years prior, during the silent era, when she collaborated with Jean Epstein. In 1926, Viel became the assistant sales manager and silent partner at Epstein’s independent production company, Les Films Jean Epstein, where he came to rely on Viel’s financial support (Daire 2014, 79-80). After Epstein completed La Glace à trois faces in 1927, Viel came to his aid again and provided him with the funds necessary to finish his celebrated film La Chute de la Maison Usher (1928) (Daire 94). Receipts held at the Cinémathèque française reveal that, instead of giving her any monetary compensation for her investment, Epstein transferred ownership of three of his films to Viel in 1928: Mauprat (1926), La Glace à trois faces, and Six et demi onze (1927). In 1929, Viel worked on Czech director Leo Marten’s film Dzungle velkomesta/La Jungle d’une grande ville (Fronval 1929, 10), either as co-director or artistic consultant, as the credits on the extant print from the National Film Archive in Prague indicate. According to an online synopsis published by the archive, the drama, which was shot silent but was ultimately released with sound in 1930, concerns a young woman who becomes involved with a con man and his partner (“Jungle of the Big City” n.p.). Dzungle velkomesta is the only silent film that we know of today where Viel was directly involved in the production.
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