"Perils of Pauline" -- cliff-hanger or not?

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 18 16:09:49 UTC 2014


Why, among all the popular adventure serials at the time, do think it had
to be The Perils of Pauline?


On Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 10:34 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "Perils of Pauline" -- cliff-hanger or not?
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> There are some who call the 1914 Perils of Pauline a cliff-hanger,
> and some, probably the majority, who do not.  The argument is
> complicated by the fact that the negatives and prints for the
> original 20 two-reel chapters have not been found, and later releases
> have cut and pasted episodes.
> Shelley Stamp, in "Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture
> Culture after the Nickelodeon" (2000), p. 119, suggests why P. of P.
> may have been called a cliffhanger:
> "In its account of the serial's twelfth chapter, the [New York
> Dramatic] Mirror leaves out scenes that the Moving Picture] World
> recounts at the beginning of the episode, and describes how the
> installment ends with an incident that the World includes at the
> beginning of the subsequent installment, complaining that this ending
> is 'something like breaking off a story in the middle of a sentence.'
> It therefore appears plausible that at least one exhibitor may have
> shown the second reel of the twelfth episode together with the first
> reel of the thirteenth episode as a combined package, possibly in
> order to achieve a 'cliff-hanger' effect. ... [It seems likely] that
> just as release dates seem to have been staggered in conjunction with
> newspaper supplements, the ordering and combination of separate reels
> might also have varied from venue to venue."
> I note that the "original story synopses" from the Moving Picture
> World seem to be taken as the true picture, and perhaps adduced as
> the definitive evidence that P. of P. was not a cliff-hanger.  See
> <http://www.serialsquadron.com/forums/>
> http://www.serialsquadron.com/forums/
> (Movie Serial Message Boards) and select 1910s-20s Silent Movie
> Serials & Series / The 20 Original Chapters of THE PERILS OF PAULINE.
> Whether or not what the Mirror saw was common, I still surmise that
> "cliff-hanger" arose from association with the cliff-hanging scene in
> the immensely popular P. of P.  Now all that remains is to find it
> near 1914, or even better in a reference to P. of P. itself.
> Joel
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