The Exploits of Elaine

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The Exploits of Elaine
The Exploits of Elaine.jpg
Directed by Louis J. Gasnier
George B. Seitz
Leopold Wharton
Produced by Leopold Wharton
Theodore Wharton
Written by Charles W. Goddard
George B. Seitz
Starring Pearl White
Arnold Daly
Sheldon Lewis
Distributed by Pathé Exchange
Whartons Studio
Release date(s)
  • December 28, 1914 (1914-12-28)
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

The Exploits of Elaine (1914) is a film serial in the genre of The Perils of Pauline.

The Exploits of Elaine tells the story of a young woman named Elaine who, with the help of a detective, tries to find the man, known only as "The Clutching Hand", who murdered her father. The Clutching Hand was the first Mystery villain to appear in film serials. The concept was widely used for the remainder of the format's existence.

The serial stars Pearl White (who also starred in The Perils of Pauline), Arnold Daly, Sheldon Lewis, Creighton Hale and Riley Hatch. Lionel Barrymore had a small role. The serial was written by Charles W. Goddard, Arthur B. Reeve (story) and George B. Seitz, and directed by Louis J. Gasnier, Seitz, and Leopold Wharton.

The film was produced by the Whartons Studios and distributed by Pathé Exchange, the American distribution branch of the French company Pathé at that time. Pathé was the largest film equipment and production company in the world during the first part of the 20th century.

The film was followed in 1915 by The New Exploits of Elaine.

The serial, which is extant, has been named to the United States National Film Registry for its cultural and historic importance.[1]

Cast[edit]

  • Pearl White - Elaine Dodge
  • Arnold Daly - Detective Craig Kennedy
  • Creighton Hale - Walter Jameson (Ep. 1, 2, 3)
  • Raymond Owens - Walter Jameson (Ep. 4-14)
  • Sheldon Lewis - Perry Bennett / The Clutching Hand. Sheldon Lewis, as the handsome attorney Perry Bennett and The Clutching Hand, was "the first in the serial genre's long parade of unknown menaces"[2][3]
  • Edwin Arden - Wu Fang
  • Leroy Baker - The Butler
  • Bessie Wharton - Aunt Josephine, Mrs. Dodge
  • Riley Hatch - President Dodge (as William Riley Hatch)
Pearl White and Creighton Hale.
  • Robin H. Townley - Limpy Red
  • Floyd Buckley - Michael
  • Lionel Barrymore - Undetermined Role
  • M.W. Rale - Wong Lang Sin. Long Sin is a Yellow Peril character, who wants the Clutching Hand's treasure map. He became just an agent of Wu Fang in the sequel. Wu Fang appeared in several Pearl White serials.[4]
  • George B. Seitz
  • Howard Cody - Undetermined Role
  • Paul Panzer - Undetermined Role (unconfirmed)

Production[edit]

The Exploits of Elaine was based on a book in the "Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective" series by Arthur B. Reeve.[2] It was a prototype for the scientific mystery serials but has less interest for later audiences. A lot of the technology and science is now out of date or considered mundane. For example, the serial has to explain the concept of fingerprinting in dramatic fashion.[2] Nevertheless, the serial was a success on its release and lead to two sequels, The New Exploits of Elaine (1915) and The Romance of Elaine (1915)[2]

Cliffhangers[edit]

In chapter ten, Elaine actually dies. She is brought back to life in the next chapter by Craig Kennedy.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

In the opinion of Stedman, this serial is an improvement on The Perils of Pauline, with better acting, script and direction.[2]

Chapter titles[edit]

  1. The Clutching Hand
  2. The Twilight Sleep
  3. The Vanishing Jewels
  4. The Frozen Safe
  5. The Poisoned Room
  6. The Vampire
  7. The Double Trap
  8. The Hidden Voice
  9. The Death Ray
  10. The Life Current
  11. The Hour of Three
  12. The Blood Crystals
  13. The Devil Worshippers
  14. The Reckoning

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Exploits of Elaine at silentera.com database
  2. ^ a b c d e Stedman, Raymond William. "1. Drama by Instalment". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 16–18. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5. 
  3. ^ a b Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut. "1. The Girls "Who Is That Girl in the Buzz Saw?"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9. 
  4. ^ Stedman, Raymond William. "2. The Perils of Success". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5. 

External links[edit]