Edward Joseph

The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 9: The Floating Coffin

The Floating Coffin starts as most Perils of Pauline chapters start. Villain Paul Panzer is loitering around lovebirds Pearl White and Crane Wilbur, trying to figure out a way to off White. This time they’re yachting and White wants to go off on her own in a motorboat. Unlike every other chapter of Pauline, she asks Wilbur for his permission. Maybe because it’s his motorboat? White also has a dog. She’s never had a dog before.

Panzer sees his chance and opens the drain on the boat, filling it with a towel. Somehow the motorboat doesn’t sink overnight, and indeed lasts a whole hour into White’s solo voyage. As she begins taking on water, she goes to the nearest refuge–what turns out to be a floating target platform for the Navy.

Once White’s on the platform, Coffin just starts piling on logic hole after logic hole. First she can’t see the ships shooting at the target, even though they haven’t moved. She just wasn’t looking in the right spot. Also, on board the firing vessels, someone’s watching the target with binoculars. They apparently can see the target platform but not White (and her dog). Until a little later, when they can. Basically everyone’s incompetent.

Except the yacht captain, who figures out–after ten plus attempts–it’s Panzer who’s causing all of White’s Perils. An exceptionally lackluster finish to the serial ensues.

Even though White doesn’t do much except watch the water rise, the interiors on the platform as it fills with seawater are cool. The dog seems to be having a good time.

It’s also not clear how White knows she’s on a target platform (to send a distress message) after getting on the platform and apparently having no idea what it’s doing on the water.

White does probably get the most to do since the first chapter, but none of it’s special. In fact, it’s less special than almost every other thing she’s done–with far less screen time–in the rest of the serial.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), and Paul Panzer (Koerner).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 8: The Serpent in the Flowers

The Serpent in the Flowers only refers to one of the many things in this penultimate chapter of The Perils of Pauline. It comes towards the middle, after Paul Panzer has hired gypsy Clifford Bruce to again do away with Pearl White. Panzer senses he’s running out of time to kill White (according to the intertitle). It’s unclear why he’s running out of time, as the chapters have lacked any continuity since the second one.

Anyway, he hires the gypsy band to kill her. Only they kidnap her and then don’t kill her, making Bruce’s girlfriend jealous. Bruce is keeping White in his own tent for some reason. White tries to escape, as she’s not bound and the gypsy camp is within walking distance of home, but they catch her. So she stops trying. Of course she does.

Bruce’s girlfriend comes across Crane Wilbur, who’s out looking for White, and leads him to her. In the rescue attempt, Bruce is somehow wounded–Wilbur’s throwing bottles of beer at him and missing over and over; one must connect off-screen.

To get revenge, Bruce’s girlfriend puts a snake in some flowers and delivers it to White’s estate. Except Wilbur saves her.

The chapter doesn’t end with that second attempt on White’s life (the first one separate from Panzer, something Serpent sadly doesn’t dwell on), instead it continues with White participating in a horse race and Panzer poisoning her horse.

The shots of Panzer and Wilbur watching the race are pretty neat. Wilbur doesn’t want to White to participate because he never wants her to do anything but marry him and he’s anxious. Panzer’s anxious for the horse to go down and crush White.

It’s a long chapter, with way too much story, way too little suspense. That final amusement helps a lot. Especially since the adorable trained bear cub is only in two shots at the gypsy camp.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), and Clifford Bruce (Gypsy leader).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 7: The Tragic Plunge

This chapter involves the world of international espionage, with leads Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, and Paul Panzer meeting a submarine designer (Jack Standing) who offers White a tour of his latest boat. Conveniently, Standing’s (unfortunately uncredited) fiancée is a foreign agent out to steal his latest plans.

While at dinner, she and Panzer get seated next to each other and she likes the cut of his jib. Apparently spy masters can sniff out incapable attempted murderers.

So Panzer hires the woman to kill White, which involves Standing’s valet planting a bomb on the submarine. It’s not a great bomb, incidentally, it doesn’t even have enough oompf to get through the hull. But it is enough to incapacitate the boat while submerged.

White and Standing are trapped on the ocean floor, running out of air, while Wilbur’s up top on another boat, waiting for them. Panzer disappears, which sadly means no shocked reaction when White doesn’t get killed (again).

No spoilers but there’s one of Pauline’s biggest logic holes in The Tragic Plunge. Someone is able to escape through the submarine tube while everyone else just stays onboard after they escape, running out of air. It’s bewildering.

The submarine interiors are cool (if unlikely–it’s a three-story submarine) and the exteriors of the ocean floor are well-done.

One thing about Plunge is how much more White gets to do. Without Wilbur cloying or Panzer scheming, she’s only sharing screen time with the foreign agents. Eventually, of course, Wilbur shows up to swipe her agency, but for a good while, it feels like Perils is White’s show.

Serial. Whatever.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), and Jack Standing (Lt. Summers).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 6: The Shattered Plane

The Shattered Plane title to this chapter kind of gives things away. Is there going to be a shattering of a plane? Has it already shattered?

Villain Paul Panzer talks his ward, Pearl White, into going out to the airfield and trying to get aboard a plane. There’s going to be a race. White loves the idea, though her beau Crane Wilbur disapproves.

When Panzer and White get to the airfield, Panzer tries to bribe the pilot, who refuses. The pilot cannot, however, refuse White’s charms and agrees to let her ride along.

So then Panzer sabotages the plane (that night), presumably to kill both pilot and passenger. Panzer not having a plan when he goes out to the airfield in the first place is kind of sketchy, along with him not knowing how to sabotage a plane until he overhears the pilot talking about maintenance.

Wilbur still wants to keep White from flying; he sabotages both the household’s cars. One he just lets the gas drain as they drive, which White doesn’t seem to notice when she’s walking around the back of the car. Luckily (or unluckily), Panzer manages to find a car to go pick White up.

There are some great aerial shots from the flying planes, but it turns out to be a lackluster Pauline, even taking the serial’s tropes into account.

And when White has to call the maid to go get her a coat? It’s pretty obnoxious. Panzer shouldn’t be poorly plotting to kill her, but White seems to be an awfully snobby blue blood.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), and Francis Carlyle (Hicks).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 5: A Watery Doom

A Watery Doom opens with scheming villain Paul Panzer hiring a “gypsy” (honestly, calling them Romani in this context seems inappropriate), played by Clifford Bruce, to drown his ward, Pearl White. But Panzer’s worried her fiancé Crane Wilbur will come along and save her at the last minute. So at least Panzer’s learned the structure of Perils of Pauline chapters, even if he hasn’t learned anything from his mistakes.

They’re going to lock her in a basement below river level and drown her. Bruce and his band of gypsies (see, you don’t want to call them a band of Romani here) pose as firemen and burn down one of Wilbur’s factories. Apparently there are women and children in danger at this factory, but it’s immaterial. The false firemen kidnap Wilbur and White and lock them in the opening scene’s basement, then blow a hole to let the river in.

White’s more worried about the rats in the basement, who then swim (in the chapter’s most amusing shots), than she is about drowning. And why should she worry? Even though Panzer and Bruce had a plan to incapacitate Wilbur, it apparently didn’t work at all. He’s able to get his bindings off by rubbing them against a broken chimney base, which Panzer and Bruce apparently didn’t notice when surveying the basement.

Panzer’s got a subplot about firing the house staff because he’s sure he’s finally killed White and now has her riches. It goes unresolved. As bad at Panzer is at devising these murder plots (the gypsies have guns, why not just shoot the couple), at least he’s not Wilbur and White who never seem to figure out he’s always miserable to see them.

The escape from the drowning isn’t great, but the subsequent escape from the gypsy gang is kind of neat. Especially the stunt work.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), and Clifford Bruce (Gypsy leader).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 4: The Deadly Turning

The Deadly Turning starts with what seems like a lot of corrective potential. Pearl White has signed up for a car race without telling beau Crane Wilbur or guardian Paul Panzer. Once she’s accepted, she tells them at once, setting she and Wilbur on their plot line and Panzer on his.

Wilbur begs White not to race. She refuses. So he says she has to let him drive the car. Even though she’s entered into a car race, she doesn’t seem to know how to drive, which was immediately disappointing. That conflict is pretty much all of White and Wilbur’s plot line.

Meanwhile, Panzer sees another opportunity to kill White and get her money. Turns out he’s got a bunch of other henchmen who he can force to do his bidding. Panzer’s come a long way from the mostly reformed secretary in the first chapter. Now he’s got a league of thugs.

Stupid thugs as it turns out, though Panzer’s plan to cause White to crash is pretty bad on its own. Worse is when how he plans it so the culprit will be in full view of everyone.

Fortunately, it’s a short chapter. There’s not enough time before it’s over to get fully disappointed in how much White is again wasted. The serial often seems less like The Perils of Pauline than Buffoons Can’t Murder.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), and Paul Panzer (Koerner).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 3: The Pirate Treasure

The Pirate Treasure doesn’t give Pearl White anything more to do than usual in Pauline, despite her playing Pauline, but it’s one heck of an amusing chapter. Villains Paul Panzer and Francis Carlyle (who really ought to be top-billed since they have the most to do every chapter–so far) are walking along trying to figure out how to kill White and happen across a destitute old sailor (Donald MacKenzie). They like the look him and it turns out MacKenzie isn’t above some accessory to murder, so long as he gets paid.

Panzer’s scheme has MacKenzie telling White he’s got buried treasure on an island. Presumably because Panzer knows White won’t be able to resist helping MacKenzie get the buried treasure?

At first, MacKenzie terrifies White and her would-be beau, Crane Wilbur, rushes to her rescue. Wilbur’s intrusion convinces White she should listen to MacKenzie’s tale, regardless of him being a terrifying old sailor. So she boots Wilbur out, listens to the tale, and agrees to help him.

When Wilbur wants to know what she’s up to on her boating expedition, she refuses to tell him, which kicks off his subplot. He gets a buddy and hires a boat to follow her.

Except the skipper they hire is in Carlyle’s pay and dumps them on an empty island. They build a raft, which sinks, but then swim to shore on a different island. By that time, White and her party have gotten to that island, where they’re stopping over to go to the treasure island.

That extra time gives Wilbur time to put on black face and pretend to be a cook so he can go with them. It’s a fairly complex disguise–including a hairpiece; so the staging island must have had a costume shop.

The plot holes–Wilbur’s disappearing friend, White’s erratic behavior, Wilbur not–you know–wanting to wait for White’s ship to depart before following it–makes Treasure rather amusing.

Technically the best part is MacKenzie’s flashback to childhood–he’s a cabin boy who has to kill the entire crew of a ship to defend himself from being thrown overboard. It’s a great gunfight turned knife fight turned brawl. Whoever plays young MacKenzie does well.

MacKenzie’s makeup is awesome as well.

The chapter only has one Peril, which is fine, especially since it gives Panzer and Carlyle their best moment of villainy in the whole thing.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), Francis Carlyle (Hicks), and Donald MacKenzie (Blinky Bill, the pirate).


The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 2: The Goddess of the Far West

Tired of being in the public eye–presumably since she escaped a terrible fate in the previous chapter–Pearl White decides to go visit some friends out west. Suitor and pal Crane Wilbur can’t go with her (which is initially a blessing); unfortunately, villain Paul Panzer discovers her plans and schemes to once again kill her for her fortune.

Panzer’s thug, Francis Carlyle, hires a band of evil cowboys to help him kidnap White. They do, with ease, and lock her in a cave. While the villains get away, a group of Native Americans are fox hunting nearby. Seeing the fox in the cave, White realizes its not entirely sealed and works her way out.

Not clear why she didn’t explore the cave before seeing the fox. Not clear at all.

She escapes her makeshift prison with the help of a Native American who takes her back to the tribe. The elders decide they’re going to kill her in some ritual manner. Even though her rescuer tries to get her free, it’s too late. They push White down a hill and send boulders after her.

There’s at least one cool shot of White (or a stuntperson) running from a boulder.

In the meantime, Wilbur’s back to save the day. Even though a sheriff’s posse was ostensibly looking for White, they had no luck. Only Wilbur can find her.

The finale has the posse killing a bunch of the bloodthirsty Natives, though everyone decides White’s Native rescuer is an all right guy.

Goddess is a long twenty or so minutes. The first “peril” at least fits into the bigger plot, but the second one is seemingly just there because the first doesn’t have any big set pieces. And it only doesn’t have big set pieces because directors Gasnier and MacKenzie rush the kidnapping.

It’d be nice if White got something to do most of the time instead of at most a quarter of it.

CREDITS

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), and Francis Carlyle (Hicks).


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