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The Perils of Pauline Details


The third of four films bearing the title of The Perils of Pauline, this musical biopic purports to tell the life story of famed silent serial queen Pearl White. Right at the beginning, however, an introductory title informs the audience that what follows is merely "suggested" by incidents in White's life and career. Translation: The film is a fabrication from beginning to end, but an enjoyable one. Played on all four cylinders by Betty Hutton, White is introduced as a frustrated factory worker who aspires to become a dramatic actress. She joins a touring theatrical troupe managed by handsome but pompous Mike (John Lund), but fame and fortune elude her because she's unable to suppress her natural rambunctiousness. In desperation, White takes a job at a movie studio, where she promptly finds herself in the middle of a slapstick pie fight. With the help of bombastic director Mac (William Demarest), top-hatted villain portrayer Timmy (Billy De Wolfe), and imperious dramatics coach Julia (Constance Collier), Pearl soon becomes world-famous as the star of such cliffhanging, tied-to-the-railroad-tracks serials as The Perils of Pauline (hence the title of this film). At the height of her fame, she arranges for her theatrical mentor Mike to get a job as her leading man, forcing him to swallow his pride and admit that he's been in love with her from the moment he met her. A series of clichéd complications contrive to separate White and Mike, but he returns to her arms when she's seriously injured during a Parisian stage performance. A few fairly credible recreations of silent moviemaking techniques aside, The Perils of Pauline is wildly anachronistic and inaccurate (for one thing, Pearl White made most of her serials in New Jersey rather than Hollywood). As a musical comedy, however, the film passes muster, especially during the performance of such Frank Loesser tunes as "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" and "The Sewing Machine." As a bonus, the film rounds up several silent-movie veterans in cameo roles, including William Farnum, Chester Conklin, Jimmy Finlayson, Creighton Hale, Hank Mann -- and Paul Panzer, who played the sneering villain in the original 1914 Paul Panzer. ~ Rovi

  • Release date:July 4, 1947


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Frank Loesser Best Song 1947 Nominee


Betty Hutton
as Pearl White
John Lund
as Michael Farrington
Constance Collier
as Julia Gibbs
William Demarest
as Chuck 'Mac' McGuire
Billy De Wolfe
as Timmy Timmons
Frank Faylen
as Joe Gut
Chester Conklin
as Comic
Paul Panzer
as Gent, Interior Drawing Room
James Finlayson
as Comic Chef
Hank Mann
as Chef Comic
Francis McDonald
as Heavy, Western Saloon
Bert Roach
as Bartender, Western Saloon
Frank Ferguson
as Theater Owner
Franklin Farnum
as Friar John
Ethel Clayton
as Lady Montague
Eugene Borden
as French doctor
Bess Flowers
as Reporter
Rex Lease
as Reporter
Chester Clute
as Willie Millick
Paula Ray
as Reporter
John Miller
as Cameraman, Drawing Room Set
Myrtle Anderson
as Maid
Charles "Heinie" Conklin
as Studio cop
Harry Hayden
as Stage manager
William Farnum
as Hero in Saloon
Julia Faye
as Nurse
Creighton Hale
as Marcelled leading man
Tom Dugan
as Balloonist
Stanley Blystone
as Reporter
Eric Alden
as Officer
Jack Shea
as Workman
Sidney D'Albrook
as Reporter


George Marshall
Sol C. Siegel
Frank R. Butler
Ray Rennahan
Frank Loesser
Composer (Music Score)
Robert Emmett Dolan
Composer (Music Score)
Hans Dreier
Art Director
Roland Anderson
Art Director
Ray Moyer
Set Designer
Sam Comer
Set Designer
Edith Head
Costume Designer
Gene Merritt
Sound/Sound Designer
Gordon Jennings
Special Effects
Wally Westmore