Beautifully directed and photographed action melodrama
This fifteen-part serial, "the last of the adult serials", is a beautifully photographed and edited action melodrama, with surprisingly good acting in all roles. Produced in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., it has crisp editing, fast action, and carefully lit and composed interiors. The lush pictorialist exteriors are also handled with great care. The film seems very much influenced by D.W.Griffith's Biograph melodramas, incorporating Griffith's editing techniques, and Billy Bitzer's lovely composition of individual shots.
The producers of the film seemed to have entre to the homes of some of the wealthiest people in the community, and the production values are so high I can't believe the people responsible for the film were inexperienced locals. In a fifteen-part serial of this great complexity, one would expect some loss of focus, but the director and the photographer/title-maker seem always to be absolutely in control, and experimental lighting and camera angles occur throughout the film. The extraordinary rhythmic momentum of the film is never lost despite the films complex plot turns.
Highly recommended, even though the Grapevine Video VHS tape is a generation or two away from the best quality, and is therefore of high contrast, with considerable loss of "highs". Still, a startlingly good bit of film-making to see.
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