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  • Early Universal serial concerns the quest for the two halves of a sacred disc on which is written a formula of great value. Beginning in China during a revolution the the adventure shifts to various locations around the world. To be honest the first four episodes of the this serial are four of the best in serial history. There is a sense of urgency and speed with which things move that keep things moving lively. The first chapters set in the city under siege are amazing, its large scale danger through which the heroes and villains move and its amazing. Unfortunately the need to find the disc and then get out of the city is lost once the story moves on to the jungle where the round and round about nature of the story becomes not much more than spinning wheels. It remains watchable thanks to the great cast, especially John Davidson as the villain. Also helping to keep it watchable is some great location footage thats added in for color. Worth a look.
  • An enjoyable cliffhanger from Universal's early sound serial period with a good cast and storyline. Somewhat dated production hurts it a bit but overall an admirable effort from producer Henry MacRae and director Ray Taylor.
  • Pauline uses many forms of transportation on her quest for the secret formula for the invisible gas that destroys civilizations. Among them are several airplanes. In episodes 5 and 6 there are good examples of single engine airplanes from the early 1930's. Later, in episodes 7 and 8, Pauline is shown as a commercial passenger on a huge multiengine flying boat. The serial includes historic shots of the take off and landing of the 12 engine Dornier Do X flying boat, the largest and most powerful airplane ever built when it was completed in 1929. It was so heavy that the 12 600 horsepower engines could only lift it to 1600 feet! It was so clumsy that the passengers were asked to crowd together on one side when the airplane was turning. It held the record for the most passengers (169) in one plane. That record was not broken until 1945.

    The Do X made only one transatlantic flight, via Africa and South America with 100 passengers. It landing in New York City on June 4, 1931. When it finally returned to Berlin, it was retired and placed in a museum.

    Episode 8 shows the festivities associated with that historic landing. There are shots of actors boarding the plane, and some interior shots as well. The images of the Do X are the high point of the entire serial.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Universal's decision to re-make the famous 1914 serial, "The Perils of Pauline", was largely predicated on the fact that the studio had access to an enormous library of exotic newsreel and travelogue footage. Unfortunately, it was all silent material, photographed at silent speeds with mostly sub-standard cameras, and often suffering from under- or over-exposure.

    What to do with this vast and wondrous archive that was already out of date? Answer: Use as much as possible in a serial. Thus "The Perils of Pauline" packs in all the stock footage that the editor can get his hands on in Universal's vast accumulated library of silent feature and newsreel material. Some of it at the opening of Chapter One has little relevance to this particular story, and just about all of it is too dark and too fast, but no matter, it's mostly great stuff. In Chapter One, a great deal of money has been spent on matching sets so that the result — especially for unsophisticated audiences — is decidedly spectacular. Chapter Two also moves at an admirable pace, but it is at the climax of Chapter Three that the director really excels in creating atmosphere and suspense.

    Four is the menagerie chapter. Name an animal, any animal, and you'll find a clip in Chapter Four. Break your hearts, Tarzan fans.

    Five is night. As a matter of fact, more than half the serial's action takes place at night — or in the depths of some gloomy temple or museum — all the better to slot in under-exposed or over-grainy stock material. In the hands of a careless director, this over-use of the newsreel library could have emerged as a serious detriment to audience enjoyment of the serial. But Taylor is clever enough not only to avoid most of the obvious pitfalls of over-use, of ill-matching and indiscriminate splicing, but to use the materials at hand and the restrictions thus imposed to augment and heighten the serial's thrills and excitements.

    A fast-paced script, built around ingenious, edge-of-the-seat cliffhangers really helps. It's not until Chapter Ten that the furious chase settles down sufficiently to allow the characters opportunities to plan, reflect and explain.

    The set designers have not spared themselves either. And it's good to see our attractive heroine allowed a few changes of costume. Her nightclub and museum outfits are stunners.

    The rest of the players acquit themselves ably enough. Lackteen makes a great heavy, and it's always a pleasure to welcome William Desmond, even when he is forced to mouth banal lines as here. Desmond and most of the other players seem to do most of their own fighting, though the readily flailing fists and the obviously fake speed of it all do make these frequent free-for-alls somewhat monotonously unconvincing.

    All in all, this "Perils of Pauline" in an unjustly neglected serial which would — if the video print were of a higher quality (the individual chapters vary from very poor to good) make a worthy and welcome addition to any fan's library.
  • Evalyn Knapp gives a pouty performance as she, along with her father and various accomplices, attempts to locate the other half of a disk which contains an important formula, before the evil Dr. Bashan gets his hands on it. Lots of humor and cliff-hanging action. If you liked this serial, try "The Black Coin".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This production of the "Perils Of Pauline" is not to be confused with the silent serial of the same name. Pauline even has a different last name in the two serials.

    The opening "title" shot shows a train which does not appear in the serial. Probably put in there to remind people of the silent serial, but in that serial there is no woman on a railroad track either. That came from some other movie. Since this serial is about the search for two halves of a disk those halves could have been shown as a title shot and would have set the tone for the serial, something the train did not.

    This serial did make good use of newsreel footage. The opening scenes of a revolution in China were probably newsreel footage. But there were some shots that seemed to be original, using a number of extras. Good production values.

    I agree with one reviewer who said the serial went downhill somewhat when the action took place in a jungle. Too many shots of wild animals that seemed to have nothing to do with the plot.