The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 7: The Tragic Plunge

This chapter involves the world of international espionage, with leads Pearl White, Crane Wilbur, and Paul Panzer meeting a submarine designer (Jack Standing) who offers White a tour of his latest boat. Conveniently, Standing’s (unfortunately uncredited) fiancée is a foreign agent out to steal his latest plans.

While at dinner, she and Panzer get seated next to each other and she likes the cut of his jib. Apparently spy masters can sniff out incapable attempted murderers.

So Panzer hires the woman to kill White, which involves Standing’s valet planting a bomb on the submarine. It’s not a great bomb, incidentally, it doesn’t even have enough oompf to get through the hull. But it is enough to incapacitate the boat while submerged.

White and Standing are trapped on the ocean floor, running out of air, while Wilbur’s up top on another boat, waiting for them. Panzer disappears, which sadly means no shocked reaction when White doesn’t get killed (again).

No spoilers but there’s one of Pauline’s biggest logic holes in The Tragic Plunge. Someone is able to escape through the submarine tube while everyone else just stays onboard after they escape, running out of air. It’s bewildering.

The submarine interiors are cool (if unlikely–it’s a three-story submarine) and the exteriors of the ocean floor are well-done.

One thing about Plunge is how much more White gets to do. Without Wilbur cloying or Panzer scheming, she’s only sharing screen time with the foreign agents. Eventually, of course, Wilbur shows up to swipe her agency, but for a good while, it feels like Perils is White’s show.

Serial. Whatever.


Directed by Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie; screenplay by Charles W. Goddard and Basil Dickey, based on the novel by Goddard; director of photography, Arthur C. Miller; released by the Eclectic Film Company.

Starring Pearl White (Pauline), Crane Wilbur (Harry), Paul Panzer (Koerner), and Jack Standing (Lt. Summers).


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