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The Trail of the Octopus (1919)

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Carter Holmes, master criminologist, must help the oft-kidnapped Ruth Stanhope to find the 9 daggers that will unlock the secret of the cursed Devil's Trademark!



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Credited cast:
Ben F. Wilson ...
Carter Holmes
Neva Gerber ...
Ruth Stanhope
William Dyer ...
Sandy MacNab
Howard Crampton ...
Dr. Reid Stanhope
William A. Carroll ...
Marie Pavis ...
Mlle. Zora Ruharde
Al Ernest Garcia ...
(as Earnest Garcia)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Harry Archer ...
Raoul Bornay
C.M. Williams ...
Aboul Shabistari


Carter Holmes, master criminologist, must help the oft-kidnapped Ruth Stanhope to find the 9 daggers that will unlock the secret of the cursed Devil's Trademark!

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

animal in title | serial | See All (2) »


The Serial of a Thousand Thrills





Release Date:

19 October 1919 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(15 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


CHAPTER TITLES: 1. The Devil's Trade-Mark; 2. Purple Dagger; 3. Face to Face; 4. The Hand of Wang; 5. The Eye of Satan; 6. Behind the Mask; 7. The Dance of Death; 8. Satan's Soulmate; 9. The Chained Soul; 10. The Ape Man; 11. The Red Death; 12. The Poisoned Talon; 13. The Phantom Mandarin; 14. The House of Shadows; 15. The Yellow Octopus. See more »


It is first stated that the secret symbols are tattooed onto Prof. Stanhope's right arm, but after he is knocked-out for surgery, the symbols are on his left arm. See more »

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User Reviews

Now, I love silent films as much as the next film buff, but...
5 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

I just can't bring myself to call this serial "good" film-making in any way. If you like things that are old and kitschy, as I do, then "Trail of the Octopus" could be worth seeing. I was lucky enough to be one of the lonely dorks in the audience at the Library of Congress screening, and I sat through all 5 hours (is that all it was? seemed a lot longer!) of this film in absolute silence, even though by the end it was pretty painful.

The first few episodes are great! The hero is smart, handsome, and athletic, and the heroine is adorable and spunky. The filmmakers ably dealt with their low budget by making excellent use of real locations, such as the beautiful manor house and some breathtaking California rock cliffs by the ocean. The plot seems clever--there's something about a talisman, murder, an Indiana Jones-like archaeologist--everything you need in a grand adventure! But the story just goes on and on, and the longer it goes on, the less sense it makes. Suddenly there are evil Chinese people, then they're in China, something something about white slavery and international conspiracies. Then, whatever it is that the heroes have accomplished, they're commended for by President Wilson! Hooray! In the final episode, the writers must have realized that they had failed to incorporate the title of the films, "Trail of the Octopus," into the story line in any way whatsoever. So Wilson babbles something about the head Chinese henchman having "tentacles like an octopus," and the story is over. What??? I really wanted to love this serial, but it just became too ridiculous, even for me. But if it were re-released and accompanied by some snappy music, it could be a fun watch--just don't expect it to have a satisfying conclusion or make any sense.

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