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The Perils of Pauline, September 28

The Mechanical Age

Thursday, September 28, 2006
7:30 p.m. The Serial and the Mechanical Age

Lecture by David Francis
Judith Rosenberg on Piano

Film serials, with short episodes designed to leave audience members in suspense and thus make them return to the cinema the following week, found the struggle between man—or, in America, more likely woman—and machine a fruitful subject area. An episode from the first British serial, Lieutenant Rose: Lieutenant Rose R.N. and His Patent Aeroplane (Percy Stow, U.K., 1912, 35mm, Courtesy BFI NFTVA), finds the titular naval officer battling spies who want to steal his patent Wireless Controlled Monoplane. Meanwhile, in the United States, Helen Holmes, star of The Hazards of Helen, pursues criminals on the railroad in The Girl and the Game: Helen's Race with Death (J. P. McGowan, U.S., 1915, 35mm, Courtesy Library of Congress), and Pearl White, probably the best known of the American serial queens, has to find a way to avoid the Clutching Hand's ingenious and deadly invention in The Exploits of Elaine: The Death Ray (Louis Gasnier, George B. Seitz, U.S., 1914, 35mm, Courtesy Library of Congress). Also on the program: A Woman in Grey: The Dagger of Death (James Vincent, U.S., 1920, 16mm, Courtesy Library of Congress). The Perils of Pauline: Through Earth, Fire and Water (Louis Gasnier, Donald MacKenzie, U.S., 1914, 35mm, Courtesy BFI NFTVA). Nick Carter, King of the Detectives: The Ambush (Nick Carter, le roi des détectives: Le guêt-apens) (Victorin Jasset, France, 1908, 35mm, Courtesy BFI NFTVA).

• (Total program time: c. 120 mins, Silent, B&W)