Now, I love silent films as much as the next film buff, but...
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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