blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Perils of Pauline (1914) ch08 – The Serpent in the Flowers, the European version

The Serpent in the Flowers only refers to one of the many things in this penultimate chapter of The Perils of Pauline. It comes towards the middle, after Paul Panzer has hired gypsy Clifford Bruce to again do away with Pearl White. Panzer senses he’s running out of time to kill White (according to the intertitle). It’s unclear why he’s running out of time, as the chapters have lacked any continuity since the second one.

Anyway, he hires the gypsy band to kill her. Only they kidnap her and then don’t kill her, making Bruce’s girlfriend jealous. Bruce is keeping White in his own tent for some reason. White tries to escape, as she’s not bound and the gypsy camp is within walking distance of home, but they catch her. So she stops trying. Of course she does.

Bruce’s girlfriend comes across Crane Wilbur, who’s out looking for White, and leads him to her. In the rescue attempt, Bruce is somehow wounded–Wilbur’s throwing bottles of beer at him and missing over and over; one must connect off-screen.

To get revenge, Bruce’s girlfriend puts a snake in some flowers and delivers it to White’s estate. Except Wilbur saves her.

The chapter doesn’t end with that second attempt on White’s life (the first one separate from Panzer, something Serpent sadly doesn’t dwell on), instead it continues with White participating in a horse race and Panzer poisoning her horse.

The shots of Panzer and Wilbur watching the race are pretty neat. Wilbur doesn’t want to White to participate because he never wants her to do anything but marry him and he’s anxious. Panzer’s anxious for the horse to go down and crush White.

It’s a long chapter, with way too much story, way too little suspense. That final amusement helps a lot. Especially since the adorable trained bear cub is only in two shots at the gypsy camp.

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