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The Perils of Pauline (1914) Poster

Trivia

The version which appears on home video is the nine chapter French version from 1916, with the title cards translated back into English. It has survived mostly complete, with the exception of chapter four, which is missing the first of two reels. The missing reel contained footage from original USA chapter seventeen, in which Pauline's dog is kidnapped and she is lured to the den of a group of counterfeiters.
There never was a scene in this serial with Pauline tied to railroad tracks in this serial, either in the footage which survives or in that which does not. Very detailed plot summaries of all 20 original episodes show nothing remotely similar to that occurred in any of the episodes. The scene like that in The Perils of Pauline (1947), is actually a recreation of a scene in a Keystone comedy called Teddy at the Throttle (1917). Similar scenes also occurred in an earlier Keystone comedy called Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life (1913), the serial A Lass of the Lumberlands (1916), and in an episode of the Hazards of Helen series The Broken Circuit (1915).
A complete copy of the original 20 chapter 1914 US theatrical version is not known to exist in any film archive.
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The version which survives today on 28mm film is an edited down and rearranged 9 chapter version. This version was released starting July 27, 1916 in Paris France, with the title changed to Les Exploits d'Elaine (The Exploits of Elaine). The names of the 9 weekly episodes were: 1. Par le vertige et par le feu, 2. La Déesse du Far-west, 3. Le Trésor du pirate, 4. le Virage mortel, 5. Le Fil aérien, 6. L'aile brisée, 7. La Plongée tragique, 8. Le Reptile sous les fleurs, 9. Le Cercueil flottant
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Unlike most serials, chapters of The Perils of Pauline were released every two weeks.
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Chapter 1 was three reels, the rest were two reels.
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Originally planned to be 13 chapters, it was extended to 20 chapters due to its popularity.
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The name of the villain was "Raymond Owen" in the original 1914 US theatrical release. The character's name was changed to the German sounding "Koerner" for the 1916 European release.
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The term "cliffhanger" originated with the series, owing to a number of episodes filmed on or around the New Jersey Palisades.
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Milton Berle claimed this as his first film appearance, playing the character of a young boy, but this has never been confirmed.
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References to Perils appear in 1960s animated cartoon television shows The Dudley Do-Right Show (1969) and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1969).
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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.
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Basil Dickey claimed to have written this with his brother in law Charles W. Goddard.
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Director Louis J. Gasnier played himself in Chapter 9. Pauline decided to become a motion picture actress and meets with Gasnier of Pathé Frères.
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The storyline in most of the 20 chapters was self contained. Chapters 3 and 4 and 6 through 8 are the only ones where the story continued directly from one chapter to the next.
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Unlike other serials of the time, The Perils of Pauline was not released with separate titles for each episode.
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Contrary to published interviews later in her life, author Meridel Le Sueur is not involved in this film in any capacity; although she claimed to have been Pauline's double in a sword fight, the only sword fight in the film is between two male antagonists, and at the time the film was made, on the East Coast, Le Sueur was only fourteen years old, still in school, and living in Kansas.
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Contrary to popular myth, the villain in this serial did not wear a top hat and cape, nor did he have a mustache. The villain was played by Paul Panzer, who appears clean shaved, sans top hat and cape.
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There never was a scene in this serial with Pauline tied to a conveyor belt approaching a buzz saw, either in the footage which survives or in that which does not. Very detailed plot summaries of all 20 original episodes show nothing remotely similar to that occurred in any of the episodes. A number of other silent films did contain such a scene. It was referred to as a "Blue Jeans" scene because it originated in a 1890 stage play of that name. See the book "Melodrama and Modernity" by Ben Singer, 2001, Columbia University Press, pages 183-185. Blue Jeans style sawmill scenes were in the film version of the play Blue Jeans (1917), as well as the serials Perils of Thunder Mountain (1919) and The Timber Queen (1922).
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