|The Perils of Pauline|
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Distributed by||General Film Company & Eclectic Film Company|
|20 chapters (total of 410 minutes)|
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 (in the time before women could vote in the United States) and a desire for adventure. Before Pauline will agree to marry Harry (Crane Wilbur), 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 she assaulted by henchmen of Raymond Owen (Paul Panzer), her scheming adoptive father's secretary, who wants to dispose of Pauline and gain her inheritance for himself. Owen hires the disreputable Hicks (Francis Carlyle) 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.
Despite popular associations, Pauline was never tied to a railroad track in the series, an image that was added to popular mythology by scenes in stage melodramas of the 1800s, in serials featuring the resourceful "railroad girl" Helen Holmes in her long-running series The Hazards of Helen and other railroad-themed cliffhangers such as The Girl and the Game. The images of Holmes' railroad adventures were blended in the public mind with Pearl White's cliffhanging adventures, probably because White became the bigger celebrity and was so better-remembered.
The serial had 20 episodes, the first being three reels (30 minutes), and the rest two reels (20 minutes) each. After the original run, it was reshown in theaters a number of times, sometimes in re-edited versions, through the 1920s. Today, The Perils of Pauline is known to exist only in a condensed, reformatted 9-chapter version (approximately 214 minutes), released in Europe in 1916 by Pathé Freres.
In 2008, The Perils of Pauline was selected by the Library of Congress for the United States National Film Registry, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The premise of the story was that Pauline's wealthy guardian Sanford Marvin, upon his death, has left her inheritance in the care of his secretary, Raymond Owen, until the time of her marriage. Pauline wants to wait a while before marrying, as her dream is to go out and have adventures then write about them afterward. Owen, hoping to ultimately keep the money for himself, tries to turn Pauline's various adventures against her and have her "disappear" to his own advantage.
The original serial episodes had no titles, only episode numbers. Titles for episodes have been applied to them from the condensed Pathé release of the serial or sometimes as derived from novelizations of the serial.
The original 20 episodes contained the following story elements:
Titles of the Pathé 9-episode condensed and re-edited re-release stories which have been used subsequently were:
Pearl White was hesitant to accept the title role, but signed up for $250/week and a large amount of publicity.
William Randolph Hearst was involved in plot development. He was also present at the premiere at Loew's Broadway Theatre, on March 23, 1914. According to "The Truth About Pearl White" by Wallace E. Davis, the general release was approximately April 1, 1914.
E. A. McManus, head of the Hearst-Vitagraph service organization, was the person who proved how successful a serial could be. He co-operated with the largest film equipment and production company in the world at that time, a France-based company named Pathé, to produce this serial, which was Pathé's first entry into the medium.George B. Seitz tried to follow the cliffhanging pattern of The Adventures of Kathlyn but each chapter was mostly self-contained.
After retiring from law enforcement, William J. Flynn, former director of the Bureau of Investigation (forerunner of the FBI), became a scenario writer for the motion picture industry through his acquaintance with the actor King Baggot, who was considered the greatest film star in the country at that time in 1912. Producers Theodore and Leopold Wharton commissioned him to write story lines for their films, including Pauline. The Whartons also eventually adapted Flynn's experiences into a 20-part spy thriller titled The Eagle's Eye (1918), starring Baggot.
Surviving chapters of the French condensation of Pauline are noteworthy for their unintentionally funny re-translations of their title cards and dialogue captions in the English version, filled with misspellings, poor punctuation, terrible grammar, and odd expressions. The film was recut and adapted for home-movie use, and all of the printed captions were translated into French. Later, when the American home-movie industry beckoned, the original English titles had been scrapped, so the French technicians tried to translate the titles back into English.These errors have also been blamed on Louis J. Gasnier, director and supervisor of the production. Gasnier, as explained by Crane Wilbur, made linguistic mistakes that confused the French-speaking crew. The new title cards also renamed the villain's character: Raymond Owen as "Koerner," in reference to German "villainy" during World War I.
Newly-corrected intertitles which more closely approximate the content of the originals are used in the Serial Squadron restoration of the serial. The Squadron restoration also uses the original character names from the 20 episode US release and provides information about differences between the US and European versions of the serial.
Much of the film was shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where many early film studios in America's first motion picture industry were based at the beginning of the 20th century.Scenes were also filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Staten Island, New York. The term "cliffhanger" may have originated with the series, owing to a number of episodes filmed on or around the New Jersey Palisades—though it is also likely to refer to situations in stories of this type where the hero or heroine is hanging from a cliff, seemingly with no way out, until the next episode or last-minute resolution.
Pearl White performed most of her own stunts for the serial, but also was stunt doubled by a man. Filmed in the Adirondacks in New York, the stunt double rode a horse off a cliff into the lake below. Considerable risk was involved. In one incident, a balloon carrying White escaped and carried her across the Hudson River into a storm, before landing miles away. In another incident her back was permanently injured in a fall.
One of the more famous scenes in the serial which depicted a curved railroad bridge was supposedly the Ingham Creek trestle in New Hope, Pennsylvania on the Reading Company's New Hope Branch (now the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad line). The trestle still stands, just off Ferry Street along a private driveway. Some even nickname it Pauline's Trestle. The railroad is a tourist attraction and offers rides from New Hope to Lahaska, Pennsylvania, crossing over the original trestle. Subsequent comparisons of the existing photographs of the train used in the episode, however, do not match the appearance of the locomotives in use by the New Hope-Ivyland railroad at the time. Also, the short scene in the serial involving the train did not involve a trestle, but simply showed a crook escaping by parachute from a plane but then falling directly in the path of a locomotive. Other supposed locations for the railroad scenes include the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad in Lambertville and Raven Rock, New Jersey and the Long Island Rail Road in the Hamptons on Long Island. It is unlikely that any of these stories are anything but legends as, again, there were no major scenes involving action with trains in the serial.
Milton Berle (1908–2002) claimed The Perils of Pauline as his first film appearance, playing the character of a young boy, though this has never been independently verified and is unlikely as no child characters appear in the serial. The serial did mark one of the early credits for the cinematographer Arthur C. Miller, who was transferred to the project from the Pathé News department.
Pathé established an American factory and studio facility in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1910, and also established the Eclectic Film Company as a subsidiary distribution company for both its American and European products. Although the Jersey City plant produced moderately popular comedies, dramas, and newsreels largely directed at the US market, Pauline was the first American-made Pathé effort to achieve worldwide success under the Eclectic banner.
The final peril has Pauline sitting in a target boat as the Navy opens fire. The idea was also used in To the Shores of Tripoli (1942).
This successful serial was quickly followed by The Exploits of Elaine , also starring White. Many imitations and parodies followed, heralding the first golden age of the American film serial.
The title The Perils of Pauline was reused by Universal Studios for a 1933 sound serial with a different plot, by Paramount Pictures as the Betty Hutton vehicle The Perils of Pauline (1947), and by Universal again in 1967 as an updated comedy.
An abortive mixed-media musical was planned to be based on the film, called Who's That Girl?, meant to be premiered by The Boys from Syracuse producer Richard York on Broadway in 1970, with a book written by Lewis Banchi and Milburn Smith, and with the planned participation of the songwriting duo Ray Evans and Jay Livingston.
The Perils of Pauline is the prime example of what scholar Ben Singer has called the "serial-queen melodrama".
There has been a recent reassessment of Singer's model in the light of broader film forms.
The film's style was later subject to nostalgic caricature in many forms (e.g. Dudley Do-Right ), but the original heroine was neither as helpless as the caricatures, nor did the original series include the much-parodied "tied to railroad tracks" or "tied to buzzsaw" scenarios which appeared in later films in this vein. Even the title phrase "Perils of" was often adopted by later serials, for example, in Universal's Perils of the Secret Service , Perils of the Wild , and Perils of the Yukon . and Republic Pictures' Perils of Nyoka .
The 1969–70 cartoon series The Perils of Penelope Pitstop was patterned after this serial, and included the plot point of the villain trying to eliminate the heroine so he can keep her inheritance.
The Thunderbirds episode "Perils of Penelope" was inspired by The Perils of Pauline.
The Exploits of Elaine is a 1914 American film serial in the damsel in distress genre of The Perils of Pauline (1914).
Mighty Mouse is an American animated anthropomorphic superhero mouse character created by the Terrytoons studio for 20th Century Fox. The character was originally called Super Mouse, and made his debut in the 1942 short The Mouse of Tomorrow. The name was changed to Mighty Mouse in his eighth film, 1944's The Wreck of the Hesperus, and the character went on to star in 80 theatrical shorts, concluding in 1961 with Cat Alarm.
The damsel in distress, persecuted maiden, or princess in jeopardy is a classic theme in world literature, art, film and video games, most notably in the more action-packed. This trope usually involves beautiful, innocent, or helpless young female leads, placed in a dire predicament by a villain, monster or similar antagonist, and who requires a male hero to achieve her rescue. After rescuing her, the hero often obtains her hand in marriage. Though she is usually human, she can also be of any other species, including fictional or folkloric species; and even divine figures such as an angel, spirit, or deity.
The Perils of Penelope Pitstop is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions that premiered on CBS on September 13, 1969. The show ran for one season with a total of 17 half-hour episodes, the last first-run episode airing on January 17, 1970. Repeats aired on CBS until September 4, 1971; and in syndication as Fun World of Hanna-Barbera from 1976 to 1982. It is a spin-off of Wacky Races, reprising the characters of Penelope Pitstop and the Ant Hill Mob.
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.
The Hazards of Helen is an American adventure film serial of 119 twelve-minute episodes released over a span of slightly more than two years by the Kalem Company between November 7, 1914 and February 24, 1917.
Helen Holmes was an American silent film actress, producer, director, screenwriter and stuntwoman. She is most notable for starring in the 1914–1917 serial The Hazards of Helen.
Fanny Zilch is an animated cartoon character, part of the Terrytoons series. She made her debut in 1933. Her cartoons were musical spoofs of melodrama serials like The Perils of Pauline, in which blonde sweetheart Fanny -- "the Banker's Daughter" -- was pursued by the villainous Oil Can Harry, and protected by the heroic J. Leffingwell Strongheart.
Zorro Rides Again (1937) is a 12-chapter Republic Pictures film serial. It was the eighth of the sixty-six Republic serials, the third with a western theme and the last produced in 1937. The serial was directed by William Witney & John English in their first collaboration. The serial starred John Carroll who also sang the title song as a modern descendant of the original Zorro with Carroll stunt doubled by Yakima Canutt. The plot is a fairly standard western storyline about a villain attempting to illicitly take valuable land. The setting is a hybrid of modern (1930s) and western elements that was used occasionally in B-Westerns. It was also the first in a series of five Zorro serials: Zorro's Fighting Legion (1939), Zorro's Black Whip (1944), Son of Zorro (1947) and Ghost of Zorro (1949).
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.
Crane Wilbur was an American writer, actor and director for stage, radio and screen. He was born in Athens, New York. Wilbur is best remembered for playing Harry Marvin in The Perils of Pauline. He died in Toluca Lake, California.
Roar of the Iron Horse is a 1951 American Western Serial film directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Thomas Carr and starring Jock Mahoney and Virginia Herrick.
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.
The Perils of Pauline is a 1947 American Technicolor film directed by George Marshall and released by Paramount Pictures. The film is a fictionalized Hollywood account of silent film star Pearl White's rise to fame, starring Betty Hutton as White.
The Tiger's Trail is a 1919 American adventure film serial starring Ruth Roland, directed by Robert Ellis, Louis J. Gasnier and Paul Hurst. A "fragmentary print" from the serial survives.
The Iron Claw is a 1916 American silent adventure 20 episode film serial starring Pearl White, directed by George B. Seitz and Edward José, and released by Pathé Exchange. A print of the seventh episode exists in the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Haunted Valley is a fifteen episode American adventure film serial starring Ruth Roland, in which Ruth Ranger, the president of an engineering firm engaged in a construction project at the Lost River Dam, takes out a three-month million-dollar loan from supposed friend Harry Mallinson with the "Haunted Valley" as collateral. It is unknown if the film currently survives.
A serial film,film serial, movie serial, or chapter play, is a motion picture form popular during the first half of the 20th century, consisting of a series of short subjects exhibited in consecutive order at one theater, generally advancing weekly, until the series is completed. Generally, each serial involves a single set of characters, protagonistic and antagonistic, involved in a single story, which has been edited into chapters after the fashion of serial fiction and the episodes cannot be shown out of order or as a single or a random collection of short subjects.
Astra Film Corp was an American film production company that produced silent films. Louis J. Gasnier was the company's president. George B. Seitz co-founded it. It was making films by 1916. It became Louis J. Gasnier Productions after Seitz left.
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