The Exploits of Elaine

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The Exploits of Elaine
Movie poster - The Exploits of Elaine - The Devil Worshippers (1914).jpg
Theatrical poster for Chapter 13
Directed by Louis J. Gasnier
George B. Seitz
Leopold Wharton
Theodore Wharton
Written by Charles W. Goddard
George B. Seitz
Basil Dickey
Arthur B. Reeve
Produced byLeopold Wharton
Theodore Wharton
George B. Seitz
Starring Pearl White
Arnold Daly
Sheldon Lewis
Distributed by Pathé Exchange
Whartons Studio
Release date
  • December 28, 1914 (1914-12-28)
CountryUnited States
Language Silent (English intertitles)

The Exploits of Elaine is a 1914 American film serial in the damsel in distress genre of The Perils of Pauline (1914).

Contents

The Exploits of Elaine tells the story of a young woman named Elaine who, with the help of a detective, tries to find the man, known only as "The Clutching Hand", who murdered her father. [1] The Clutching Hand was the first mystery villain to appear in a film serial. The concept was widely used for the remainder of the format's existence.

The serial stars Pearl White (who also starred in The Perils of Pauline), Arnold Daly, Sheldon Lewis, Creighton Hale, and Riley Hatch. Lionel Barrymore had a small role. The serial was written by Arthur B. Reeve (novel), Charles W. Goddard, and George B. Seitz, and directed by Louis J. Gasnier, Seitz, and Leopold Wharton. The film was produced by the Whartons Studios and distributed by Pathé Exchange, the American distribution branch of the French company Pathé at that time. Pathé was the largest film equipment and production company in the world during the first part of the 20th century.

The film was followed in 1915 by The New Exploits of Elaine .

The serial, which is extant, was named to the United States National Film Registry in 1994 for its cultural and historic importance. [2] [3]

Cast

Pearl White and Creighton Hale. Pearl White and Creighton Hale.gif
Pearl White and Creighton Hale.

Production

The Exploits of Elaine was based on a book in the "Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective" series by Arthur B. Reeve. [4] It was a prototype for the scientific mystery serials but has less interest for later audiences. A lot of the technology and science demonstrated in the serial soon became out of date or considered mundane. For example, the serial has to explain the concept of fingerprinting in dramatic fashion. [4] Nevertheless, the serial was a success on its release and led to two sequels, The New Exploits of Elaine (1915) and The Romance of Elaine (1915). [4]

Cliffhangers

Similar to other film serials, each chapter typically closed with a cliffhanger with Elaine in some physical peril or confronted with a shocking revelation. For example, at the close of Chapter 10 Elaine actually dies. She is then brought back to life in the next chapter by Craig Kennedy. [5]

Critical reception

In the opinion of film critic Stedman, this serial is an improvement on The Perils of Pauline , with better acting, script, and direction. [4]

Chapter titles

"The Death Ray"
"The Life Current"
  1. The Clutching Hand
  2. The Twilight Sleep
  3. The Vanishing Jewels
  4. The Frozen Safe
  5. The Poisoned Room
  6. The Vampire
  7. The Double Trap
  8. The Hidden Voice
  9. The Death Ray
  10. The Life Current
  11. The Hour of Three
  12. The Blood Crystals
  13. The Devil Worshippers
  14. The Reckoning

Related Research Articles

Arthur B. Reeve American novelist

Arthur Benjamin Reeve was an American mystery writer. He is known best for creating the series character Professor Craig Kennedy, sometimes called "The American Sherlock Holmes", and Kennedy's Dr. Watson-like sidekick Walter Jameson, a newspaper reporter, for 18 detective novels. Reeve is famous mostly for the 82 Craig Kennedy stories, published in Cosmopolitan magazine between 1910 and 1918. These were collected in book form; with the third collection, the short stories were published grouped together as episodic novels. The 12-volume publication Craig Kennedy Stories was released during 1918; it reissued Reeve's books-to-date as a matched set.

Pearl White American actress

Pearl Fay White was an American stage and film actress. White began her career on the stage at the age of six, and later moved on to silent films appearing in a number of popular serials.

Charles William Goddard was an American playwright and screenwriter.

George B. Seitz American film director

George Brackett Seitz was an American playwright, screenwriter, film actor and director. He was known for his screenplays for action serials, such as The Perils of Pauline (1914) and The Exploits of Elaine (1914).

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Louis J. Gasnier Film director

Louis Joseph Gasnier was a French-American film director, producer, screenwriter and stage actor. A cinema pioneer, Gasnier shepherded the early career of comedian Max Linder, co-directed the enormously successful film serial The Perils of Pauline (1914) and capped his output with the notorious low-budget exploitation film Reefer Madness (1936) which was both a critical and box office failure.

Paul Panzer German actor (1872–1958)

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<i>The Perils of Pauline</i> (1914 serial) 1914 film

The Perils of Pauline is a 1914 American melodrama film serial produced by William Randolph Hearst and released by the Eclectic film company, shown in bi-weekly installments, featuring Pearl White as the title character, an ambitious young heiress with an independent nature and a desire for adventure. Before Pauline will agree to marry Harry, who proposes marriage to her on the tennis court, she says that she wishes to be allowed to embark upon activities of her choice for a year and then write about them afterward. She proceeds then to plan to ride in a balloon, fly an airplane, drive a racing car, ride in a horse race, go on a treasure hunt, act in a motion picture, and tour a submarine, among other things, and frequently ends up in trouble after being assaulted by henchmen of Raymond Owen, her scheming adoptive father's secretary, who wants to dispose of Pauline and gain her inheritance for himself. Owen hires the disreputable Hicks who owes Owen money, and later Gypsy king called Balthazar to sabotage Pauline's plans, or kidnap or murder her and often Harry ends up coming to her rescue when she is trapped on a cliff or tied up in a house set afire, but as the series goes on she is also shown to be able to extricate herself from various predicaments as well. Finally, after she ends up trapped on an abandoned ship being used for target practice by the Navy and is genuinely terrified by the experience, Pauline decides she has had enough of adventuring and agrees to marry Harry, Owen is drowned by a sailor he has refused to allow to blackmail him, and all is well.

<i>The Perils of Pauline</i> (1933 serial) 1933 film

The Perils of Pauline is a 1933 American Pre-Code film serial, and sound film remake, of the Pathé original. The 12-chapter "cliffhanger" was produced by Universal Studios. Evalyn Knapp, herself a graduate of Pathé silent short subjects, starred as the heroine, Pauline Hargraves. Historic newsreel footage of the 1930 flight of the Dornier Do X seaplane is featured in chapter eight.

<i>The New Exploits of Elaine</i> 1915 film

The New Exploits of Elaine is a 1915 American action film serial directed by Louis J. Gasnier, Leopold Wharton and Theodore Wharton. It is presumed to be lost.

<i>The Romance of Elaine</i> 1915 film

The Romance of Elaine is a 1915 American silent adventure film serial directed by George B. Seitz, Leopold Wharton and Theodore Wharton, based on the novel by Arthur B. Reeve. The film is considered to be lost.

<i>The Secret of the Submarine</i> 1915 film

The Secret of the Submarine is a 1915 American adventure film serial directed by George L. Sargent. It was 15 chapters and all of them are considered to be lost.

<i>The Red Circle</i> (serial) 1915 film

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<i>The Clutching Hand</i> American film

The Clutching Hand is a 15-episode serial produced by the Weiss Brothers in 1936, based on the final Craig Kennedy novel of the 1934 same name by Arthur B. Reeve. A 70-minute feature film using a condensed version of the serial was also released in the same year.

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Pearl White filmography

The complete filmography of silent serial star Pearl White 1910–24.

Astra Film Corp

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References

  1. Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. p. 61. ISBN   0-8160-1356-X.
  2. Progressive Silent Film List: The Exploits of Elaine at silentera.com
  3. "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "1. Drama by Instalment" . Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. pp.  16–18. ISBN   978-0-8061-0927-5.
  5. 1 2 Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "1. The Girls "Who Is That Girl in the Buzz Saw?"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN   978-0-7130-0097-9.
  6. Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "2. The Perils of Success" . Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. pp.  39. ISBN   978-0-8061-0927-5.