The Most Famous Suspense Serial In History

The Perils of Pauline (1)
R: Louis J. Gasnier, Donald MacKenzie. B: Charles W. Goddard (screenplay) and Basil Dickey. K: Arthur C. Miller. D: Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, Paul Panzer. P: Pathé Frères (US). USA 1914

The Perils of Pauline (2)
R: Louis J. Gasnier, Donald MacKenzie. B: Charles W. Goddard (screenplay) and Basil Dickey. K: Arthur C. Miller. D: Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, Paul Panzer. P: Pathé Frères (US). USA 1914

The Perils of Pauline (3)
R: Louis J. Gasnier, Donald MacKenzie. B: Charles W. Goddard (screenplay) and Basil Dickey. K: Arthur C. Miller. D: Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, Paul Panzer. P: Pathé Frères (US). USA 1914

The Perils of Pauline (1914), Pathe’s silent film episodic serial, is considered the most famous suspense serial in cinema history. It is not the first serial, however – that honor goes to Edison’s What Happened to Mary? (1913). The Perils of Pauline premiered March 23, 1914 at Loew’s Broadway Theatre in New York City.
Pearl White was the most famous star of the silent serials, known for their archetypal cliffhangers that left audiences wondering what would happen in the next chapter. The main theme of each chapter was the heroine-in-jeopardy, although the chapters in this early serial were basically complete in themselves.
The daring, athletic and active female star performed some of the riskiest, hair-raising stunts in these films (stranded on the side of a cliff, in a runaway balloon, in a burning house, etc). Every second week in each new installment, Pauline (Pearl White) evaded attempts on her life – she fought pirates, Indians, gypsies, rats, sharks, rolling boulders, and her dastardly guardian.”
Film Site

“Chapter 1 was three reels, the rest were two reels. Originally planned to be 13 chapters, it was extended to 20 chapters due to its popularity.
The name of the villain was ‘Raymond Owen’ in the original 1914 US theatrical release. The character’s name was changed to the German sounding ‘Koerner’ for the 1916 European release.
The term ‘cliffhanger’ originated with the series, owing to a number of episodes filmed on or around the New Jersey Palisades.(…)
This was the first major theatrical production by the American branch of Pathé, the France based company that during the first part of the 20th Century, was the largest film equipment and production company in the world.
The novel of the same name by Charles W. Goddard was published serially in newspapers while the film was playing in theaters. A condensed version was later published in book form.”
Silent Beauties