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Clip #: SF-4A
Library: TFA Network
1910s, 1914, silent film, serial film, mystery, scientific detective, laboratory, villain, damsel in distress, doctor, poisoning, poisoned, arsenic, periscope
The Exploits of Elaine tells the story of a young woman named Elaine who, with the help of a detective, tries to find the man, known only as "The Clutching Hand", who murdered her father. The Clutching Hand was the first mystery villain to appear in a film serial. The concept was widely used for the remainder of the format's existence.
The serial stars Pearl White (who also starred in The Perils of Pauline), Arnold Daly, Sheldon Lewis, Creighton Hale, and Riley Hatch. Lionel Barrymore had a small role. The serial was written by Arthur B. Reeve (novel), Charles W. Goddard, and George B. Seitz, and directed by Louis J. Gasnier, Seitz, and Leopold Wharton. The film was produced by the Whartons Studios and distributed by Pathé Exchange, the American distribution branch of the French company Pathé at that time. Pathé was the largest film equipment and production company in the world during the first part of the 20th century. The Exploits of Elaine was based on a book in the "Craig Kennedy, Scientific Detective" series by Arthur B. Reeve. It was a prototype for the scientific mystery serials but has less interest for later audiences. A lot of the technology and science demonstrated in the serial soon became out of date or considered mundane. For example, the serial has to explain the concept of fingerprinting in dramatic fashion. Nevertheless, the serial was a success on its release and led to two sequels, The New Exploits of Elaine (1915) and The Romance of Elaine (1915).
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