All Classic Video - The Perils of Pauline (1916) - Classic Serial
The Perils of Pauline (1916) - Classic Serial
The Perils of Pauline is a 1914 American film serial shown in weekly installments, featuring Pearl White as the title character. Pauline has often been cited as a famous example of a damsel in distress, although some analyses hold that her character was more resourceful and less helpless than the classic damsel stereotype.
Pauline is menaced by assorted villains, including pirates and Indians. Neither Pauline nor its successor, The Exploits of Elaine, used the so-called "cliffhanger" format in which a serial episode ends with an unresolved danger that is addressed at the beginning of the next installment. Although each episode placed Pauline in a situation that looked sure to result in her imminent death, the end of each installment showed how she was rescued or otherwise escaped the danger. Despite popular associations, Pauline was never tied to railroad tracks in the series, an image that comes instead from contemporary films such as Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life.
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 edited, shortened versions, through the 1920s. Today, The Perils of Pauline is known to exist only in a shortened 9-chapter version (approximately 214 minutes), released in Europe in 1916.
In 2008 The Perils of Pauline was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."