The Perils of Pauline (1914, Louis J. Gasnier and Donald MacKenzie), the European version, Chapter 9: The Floating Coffin

The Floating Coffin starts as most Perils of Pauline chapters start. Villain Paul Panzer is loitering around lovebirds Pearl White and Crane Wilbur, trying to figure out a way to off White. This time they’re yachting and White wants to go off on her own in a motorboat. Unlike every other chapter of Pauline, she asks Wilbur for his permission. Maybe because it’s his motorboat? White also has a dog. She’s never had a dog before.

Panzer sees his chance and opens the drain on the boat, filling it with a towel. Somehow the motorboat doesn’t sink overnight, and indeed lasts a whole hour into White’s solo voyage. As she begins taking on water, she goes to the nearest refuge–what turns out to be a floating target platform for the Navy.

Once White’s on the platform, Coffin just starts piling on logic hole after logic hole. First she can’t see the ships shooting at the target, even though they haven’t moved. She just wasn’t looking in the right spot. Also, on board the firing vessels, someone’s watching the target with binoculars. They apparently can see the target platform but not White (and her dog). Until a little later, when they can. Basically everyone’s incompetent.

Except the yacht captain, who figures out–after ten plus attempts–it’s Panzer who’s causing all of White’s Perils. An exceptionally lackluster finish to the serial ensues.

Even though White doesn’t do much except watch the water rise, the interiors on the platform as it fills with seawater are cool. The dog seems to be having a good time.

It’s also not clear how White knows she’s on a target platform (to send a distress message) after getting on the platform and apparently having no idea what it’s doing on the water.

White does probably get the most to do since the first chapter, but none of it’s special. In fact, it’s less special than almost every other thing she’s done–with far less screen time–in the rest of the serial.


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), and Paul Panzer (Koerner).


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