Young Pauline is left a lot of money when her wealthy uncle dies. However, her uncle's secretary has been named as her guardian until she marries, at which time she will officially take ... See full summary »
Young Pauline is left a lot of money when her wealthy uncle dies. However, her uncle's secretary has been named as her guardian until she marries, at which time she will officially take possession of her inheritance. Meanwhile, her "guardian" and his confederates constantly come up with schemes to get rid of Pauline so that he can get his hands on the money himself. Written by
The novel of the same name by Charles W. Goddard was published serially in newspapers while the film was playing in theaters. A condensed version was later published in book form. See more »
The present distributors of the DVD (Grapevine Video) have created new title credits for each episode, in which they state it was produced by the Eclectic Film Company. Actually, it was produced by the American branch of Pathe Freres, and was distributed (not produced) by Eclectic who handled the USA distribution of Pathe product at that time. See more »
The Perils of Pauline is the most famous of the silent movie serials, which were a phenomenon on the teens and early 20s. Pearl White was the superstar of this genre (Ruth Roland and Marion Davies also starred in famous serials) and is the star of The Perils of Pauline.
Loosely plotted with little connecting tissue between episodes, the serials usually featured heroines in all kinds of dangers but always saved in the nick of time. 30s serials mostly featured men in adventurous outings. The "cliff hanger" ending was developed in serials as a way of drawing audiences back to watch the next episode.
The Perils of Pauline was originally a 20-episode serial but only the 9-episode European release survives. It opens with the death of Pauline's uncle and takeover by his "trusted" secretary as Pauline's guardian until she marries. Pauline's boy friend (Crane Wilbur) is a loyal but dumb sort of guy. The guardian (Paul Panzer) is constantly trying to knock off Pauline so he can inherit all the family fortune.
So in each episode Pauline gets into trouble as the guardian and his henchman (Francis Carlyle) try to kill her. The plotting is crude and the escapes are unrealistic but it's all in good fun. And audiences loved seeing Pearl White doing all kinds of dangerous stunts.
In this series she is bound and gagged several times, kidnapped several times by cowboys, pirates, gypsies, wild Indians, etc. and left for dead in a number of caves, burning houses, sinking ships, and subterranean cellars, and of course tied to railroad tracks!
Pauline is imperiled in speeding cars, runaway balloons, runaway horses, and left dangling on cliffs, and fighting off hordes of rats. My favorite is the Indian immortality test in which they shove her down a steep mountain slope to give her a running start and then shove a massive round boulder down the slope after her-a stunt basically repeated in the opening of the first Indiana Jones movie.
Pearl White is pretty and does well as the archetypical heroine. She's also very good in the action scenes whether dangling from a rope or cliff's edge or being carried off by desperados. Crane Wilbur and Paul Panzer overact but it's fun. Milton Berle made his first film appearance in this serial (and also in Tillie's Punctured Romance) in 1914!
An entertaining biography of Pearl White was filmed in 1947 as The Perils of Pauline, starring Betty Hutton.
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