The Perils of Pauline (1947)

96 mins | Biography | 4 July 1947

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HISTORY

This film was dedicated "with a salute to Charles W. Goddard, who wrote the original serial The Perils of Pauline ." Pearl White, the actress on whose life this film is based, was the star of that serial. The Pathé production, a two-reel, twenty-chapter serial, which was first exhibited in 1914, was directed by Donald Mackenzie under the supervision of Louis Gasnier, the technical advisor on this film. The Perils of Pauline launched White's career as a serial star and is considered by some sources to be the best known "chapter play" filmed. The romantic plot of this film was an invention of Paramount, and DV commented, "Facts of Miss White's colorful life have been sugar-coated no end." The plot line, however, of White's job in a sewing machine factory and the start of her career from 1912, when she became a stock actress, to 1923, when she retired, rich and famous, and moved to Paris, is based on White's life. As reported in NYT , Betty Hutton, like her "daredevil prototype," performed her own stunts in the film. "Pearl's" injury in the film is loosely based on that of White, who, according to modern sources, suffered a spinal injury that required that doubles be used for more demanding stunts. White, who went on to star in over 100 films, died in Paris on 4 Aug 1938.
       George Marshall directed a number of Ruth Roland serials beginning in 1919. Paul Panzer, who appeared as the villain in the 1914 The Perils of Pauline , made his last screen appearance in this film. Creighton Hale played the hero in ... More Less

This film was dedicated "with a salute to Charles W. Goddard, who wrote the original serial The Perils of Pauline ." Pearl White, the actress on whose life this film is based, was the star of that serial. The Pathé production, a two-reel, twenty-chapter serial, which was first exhibited in 1914, was directed by Donald Mackenzie under the supervision of Louis Gasnier, the technical advisor on this film. The Perils of Pauline launched White's career as a serial star and is considered by some sources to be the best known "chapter play" filmed. The romantic plot of this film was an invention of Paramount, and DV commented, "Facts of Miss White's colorful life have been sugar-coated no end." The plot line, however, of White's job in a sewing machine factory and the start of her career from 1912, when she became a stock actress, to 1923, when she retired, rich and famous, and moved to Paris, is based on White's life. As reported in NYT , Betty Hutton, like her "daredevil prototype," performed her own stunts in the film. "Pearl's" injury in the film is loosely based on that of White, who, according to modern sources, suffered a spinal injury that required that doubles be used for more demanding stunts. White, who went on to star in over 100 films, died in Paris on 4 Aug 1938.
       George Marshall directed a number of Ruth Roland serials beginning in 1919. Paul Panzer, who appeared as the villain in the 1914 The Perils of Pauline , made his last screen appearance in this film. Creighton Hale played the hero in White's later serial, The Exploits of Elaine . William Farnum, a silent Western star, came out of retirement to play himself. According to LAEx , he appeared in the costume he wore in Riders of the Purple Sage in 1918 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.3719). Farnum is shown in a barroom brawl scene with veteran silent actors Francis McDonald, Ernie Adams and Snub Pollard. Chester Conklin, James Finlayson and Hank Mann, veterans of Mack Sennett's silent slapstick comedies, recreate a scene from the Keystone Cops, throwing custard pies at each other. Ethel Clayton was a silent film star at Lubin Mfg. Co. in the 1910s, as was Jean Acker.
       The four adjacent movie sets within this film--a jungle picture with Hale; a melodrama with Panzer; a Western with Farnum; and a comedy starring The Keystone Cops, emulated the "assembly-line" shooting methods that were sometimes used in early film studios. Pararamount News reported that for the 350 feet of black and white scenes of the "galloping tintypes" in the film, the camera was "under-cranked" from 24 frames-a-second to the old standard of 16 frames-per-second to recreate the fast tempo; and that an even and constant illumination of lighting was used for the primitive movie scenes, since no gradation in lighting was used in 1914.
       Portions of the film, including the balloon ascension scenes, were shot at Gopher Flats, also known as "The Providencia Ranch" in Burbank, CA. An antique racing balloon was shipped from the Goodyear factory at Akron, OH for the film. Navy balloonist Lieut. J. J. Leonard handled the balloon, and an automatically operated camera was used to avoid the necessity of having a cameraman on board. For the train chase scene, vintage trains were used and two miles of track were cleared along the Southern Pacific Railroad in the west San Fernando Valley, CA, which, according to HR , was the same location used in the original The Perils of Pauline . HR also noted that some shooting was done in Canoga Park, CA, in mid-May 1946. The studio rented a 1916 Jenny biplane, the JN-1, for some of the stunt scenes. For the press preview screening on 24 Jun 1946 in New York, a chapter from the 1915 Pearl White-Creighton Hale serial The Exploits of Elaine was shown. The song "Poor Pauline" was a popular hit in 1914. Frank Loesser's song "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" was nominated for an 1947 Academy Award. In 1933, Universal made a 12 episode serial remake of the 1914 The Perils of Pauline serial which was directed by Ray Taylor and starred Evalyn Knapp. In 1967, Universal released The Perils of Pauline , a television pilot based on the original film serial, directed by Herbert Leonard and Joshua Shelley, and starring Pat Boone and Pamela Austin. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Sep 46
p. 318.
Box Office
24 May 1947.
---
Daily Variety
26 May 1947.
---
Film Daily
26 May 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 46
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 46
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 47
p. 3.
Independent Film Journal
16 Mar 46
p. 50.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 May 47
p. 3653.
New York Times
12 May 1946.
---
New York Times
10 Jul 47
p. 17.
Variety
28 May 47
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Raymond de Ravenne
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Chorus number
MUSIC
Vocal arr
Mus assoc
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Poor Pauline," music and lyrics by Charles McCarron and Raymond Walker
"I Wish I Didn't Love You So," "Poppa Don't Preach to Me," "The Sewing Machine" and "Rumble, Rumble, Rumble," music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 July 1947
Production Date:
late February--mid May 1946
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 July 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1080
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
96
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the 1910s, amateur performer Pearl White, who sings to her co-workers in a New York garment sweatshop, meets stage actress Julia Gibbs of the touring Shakespearean troupe, The Farrington Players, when she comes to pick up a costume. Julia gets Pearl an audition with Mike Farrington, the handsome, but pompous leader and star of the troupe, and Mike accepts her, although she cannot act. Always optimistic, Pearl accepts menial tasks until Mike finally allows her to star opposite him on the road. During a stage kiss, the two fall in love. While in an island play, Pearl, dressed in a sarong, catches cold after being drenched during a storm scene and ruins the act. Furious, Mike closes the show and humiliates Pearl, who, in turn, calls him a "two-bit four-flusher" and quits. Julia quits also and gets Pearl a singing audition with her agents. The agents offer Julia a bit part as a dowager in a motion picture being made by George "Mac" McGuire of Artcraft Pictures. Although Julia does not know it, her part requires that she receive a pie in the face, and when Pearl sees Julia humiliated, she enthusiastically defends Julia and leads her through set after set of pictures being filmed, disrupting the action, and finally furiously kicking a lion in the last set. McGuire is so impressed with Pearl's untamed energy that he casts her in the lion picture and decides to make her the star of a cliffhanger serial, The Perils of Pauline . At the end of each episode, "Pauline" faces death, but is saved at the beginning of the next episode. Pearl ... +


In the 1910s, amateur performer Pearl White, who sings to her co-workers in a New York garment sweatshop, meets stage actress Julia Gibbs of the touring Shakespearean troupe, The Farrington Players, when she comes to pick up a costume. Julia gets Pearl an audition with Mike Farrington, the handsome, but pompous leader and star of the troupe, and Mike accepts her, although she cannot act. Always optimistic, Pearl accepts menial tasks until Mike finally allows her to star opposite him on the road. During a stage kiss, the two fall in love. While in an island play, Pearl, dressed in a sarong, catches cold after being drenched during a storm scene and ruins the act. Furious, Mike closes the show and humiliates Pearl, who, in turn, calls him a "two-bit four-flusher" and quits. Julia quits also and gets Pearl a singing audition with her agents. The agents offer Julia a bit part as a dowager in a motion picture being made by George "Mac" McGuire of Artcraft Pictures. Although Julia does not know it, her part requires that she receive a pie in the face, and when Pearl sees Julia humiliated, she enthusiastically defends Julia and leads her through set after set of pictures being filmed, disrupting the action, and finally furiously kicking a lion in the last set. McGuire is so impressed with Pearl's untamed energy that he casts her in the lion picture and decides to make her the star of a cliffhanger serial, The Perils of Pauline . At the end of each episode, "Pauline" faces death, but is saved at the beginning of the next episode. Pearl is an enormous success and gains nationwide fame as Pauline. Mike, meanwhile, has been reduced to running a carnival sideshow. Pearl gets him a job as her leading man, and during a publicity stunt, the couple gets stranded in a hot air balloon, where Mike proposes. McGuire excites the press with plans for Mike and Pearl's wedding and honeymoon without consulting Mike. As President Woodrow Wilson declares war on Germany, Mike sulks, his ego bruised, and breaks the engagement. After the armistice, Mike becomes a Broadway success, and the popularity of serials declines. Pearl gets a singing contract at a café in Paris, and on opening night, Mike arrives in Paris to declare his love. Pearl falls during a stunt on stage, however, and doctors warn her that she might not walk again. Pearl risks her health to meet Mike one last time, but, while still seated in the car, refuses his proposal. Julia tips Mike off that Pearl still loves him, and while she watches one of her old serials in a Paris picture house, Mike enters and carries her out of the theater, assuring her that her performance in the car was unconvincing as usual. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.