Sunday Matinee: The Perils Of Pauline

The success of What Happened to Mary and The Adventures of Kathlyn would kick start a several action serials featuring female leads. In 1914 The Perils of Pauline starring Pearl White as Pauline, a young woman who is to inherit a vast fortune but her guardian Mr. Koerner (Paul Panzer) is plotting her death so he can get his hands on the money.

There were 20 chapters/episodes originally varying from 30 to 20 minutes long. White would do most of her own stunts in the film including one that injured her back, an injuring that would plague her the rest of her life. Pauline wasn’t quite an action hero, in fact she was more of a damsel in distress where her hero/love Harry Marvin (Crane Wilbur) would come to her rescue. The serial has a huge hit but sadly some of the chapters have been to lost and the remaining ones have been re-edited into a nine chapter serial.

Pearl White would also star in the 1914 adventure serial The Exploits of Elaine about a young woman named Elaine who with Detective Craig Kennedy (Arnold Daly) tries to find out who the mysterious evil villain The Clutching Hand really is. The series was such a hit that Pearl White did two sequels. The New Exploits of Elaine and The Romance of Elaine. Sadly both sequels have been lost.

Also in 1914 was the adventure serial The Hazards of Helen starring originally Helen Holmes in the title role. The series was one of the longest serials ever at 119 twelve-minute episodes released over two years. Holmes would also do her own stunts in the film. Holmes would leave the series after the first 48 episodes. Helen Gibson took over the role for the remainder of the series.