blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Perils of Pauline (1914) ch03 – The Pirate Treasure, the European version

The Pirate Treasure doesn’t give Pearl White anything more to do than usual in Pauline, despite her playing Pauline, but it’s one heck of an amusing chapter. Villains Paul Panzer and Francis Carlyle (who really ought to be top-billed since they have the most to do every chapter–so far) are walking along trying to figure out how to kill White and happen across a destitute old sailor (Donald MacKenzie). They like the look him and it turns out MacKenzie isn’t above some accessory to murder, so long as he gets paid.

Panzer’s scheme has MacKenzie telling White he’s got buried treasure on an island. Presumably because Panzer knows White won’t be able to resist helping MacKenzie get the buried treasure?

At first, MacKenzie terrifies White and her would-be beau, Crane Wilbur, rushes to her rescue. Wilbur’s intrusion convinces White she should listen to MacKenzie’s tale, regardless of him being a terrifying old sailor. So she boots Wilbur out, listens to the tale, and agrees to help him.

When Wilbur wants to know what she’s up to on her boating expedition, she refuses to tell him, which kicks off his subplot. He gets a buddy and hires a boat to follow her.

Except the skipper they hire is in Carlyle’s pay and dumps them on an empty island. They build a raft, which sinks, but then swim to shore on a different island. By that time, White and her party have gotten to that island, where they’re stopping over to go to the treasure island.

That extra time gives Wilbur time to put on black face and pretend to be a cook so he can go with them. It’s a fairly complex disguise–including a hairpiece; so the staging island must have had a costume shop.

The plot holes–Wilbur’s disappearing friend, White’s erratic behavior, Wilbur not–you know–wanting to wait for White’s ship to depart before following it–makes Treasure rather amusing.

Technically the best part is MacKenzie’s flashback to childhood–he’s a cabin boy who has to kill the entire crew of a ship to defend himself from being thrown overboard. It’s a great gunfight turned knife fight turned brawl. Whoever plays young MacKenzie does well.

MacKenzie’s makeup is awesome as well.

The chapter only has one Peril, which is fine, especially since it gives Panzer and Carlyle their best moment of villainy in the whole thing.

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