The Perils of Pauline (1947)





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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 clich├ęd 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 Perils of Pauline.
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
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Chester Conklin
as Chef Comic
Creighton Hale
as Marcelled leading man
James Finlayson
as Chef Comic
Billy De Wolfe
as Timmy Timmons
Betty Hutton
as Pearl White
Rex Lease
as Reporter
John Lund
as Michael Farrington
Frank Faylen
as Joe Gurt
Constance Collier
as Julia Gibbs
Tom Dugan
as Balloonist
Jack Shea
as Workman
William Farnum
as Hero, Western Saloon
Francis McDonald
as Heavy, Western Saloon
Hank Mann
as Chef Comic
'Snub' Pollard
as Propman, Western Saloon
Heinie Conklin
as Studio Cop
Stanley Blystone
as Reporter
Frank Ferguson
as Theater Owner
Bert Roach
as Bartender, Western Saloon
Bess Flowers
as Reporter
Harry Hayden
as Stage manager
Julia Faye
as Nurse
Chester Clute
as Willie Millick
Franklyn Farnum
as Friar John
Eugene Borden
as French doctor
Paul Panzer
as Gent, Interior Drawing Room
Sidney D'Albrook
as Reporter
Ethel Clayton
as Lady Montague
Franklin Farnum
as Friar John
Eric Alden
as Officer
Harry "Snub" Pollard
as Propman in Saloon
Paula Ray
as Reporter
John 'Skins' Miller
as Cameraman, Drawing Room Set
Ray de Ravenne
as Call Boy
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Critic Reviews for The Perils of Pauline

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Audience Reviews for The Perils of Pauline

Paramount's fantasy retelling of the "life" of silent screen star Pearl White was one of Hutton's best films; amusing and fast-moving with a Frank Loesser score that includes "Papa Don't Preach to Me" and the Oscar-nominated "I Wish I Didn't Love You So."

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

Not really a bio of Pearl White, but a perfect vehicle for Betty's unique talents. She's bursting with energy as usual but not quite to the obnoxious degree she could sometimes attain.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

68/100. Betty Hutton is her usual over enthusiastic, animated and peppy self, but she is effective in the title role. As far as period detail and historical accuracy, very poor indeed. But, it was made to be entertaining, not accurate. Nicely produced, if not a bit overdone. Billy de Wolfe stands out in the supporting cast and is quite good, William Demarest is fun as the frazzled director. The musical numbers are decent, but none are outstanding except for the Oscar nominated song "I Wish I Didn't Love You So", a beautiful tune. It's fun overall though, good pacing. John Lund is bland in a pivotal role. For the time, some of the special effects are good.

James Higgins
James Higgins

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