Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Silent Serial SensationsThe Wharton Brothers and the Magic of Early Cinema$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Barbara Tepa Lupack

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748189

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748189.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM Cornell University Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.cornell.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Cornell University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in Cornell for personal use. date: 20 September 2021



The Sensation of the Serial

(p.1) Introduction
Silent Serial Sensations

Barbara Tepa Lupack

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the serial motion picture. Typically two-reel action-packed films that ran for ten, fifteen, or more installments, serials often ended with a cliffhanger and a promise “to be continued next week.” Episodically structured and suspensefully plotted, they not only served as the precursors of the popular installment dramas and crime procedurals that have become staples of modern network and cable television programming; they also anticipated the extended incremental storytelling methods and “thrilling episodes of inescapable fatality and hair-breath escapes” that later filmmakers would exploit in commercial blockbusters such as the Star Wars series and the Indiana Jones and Marvel movie franchises. Moreover, serials helped to forge a strong link between the print and the film industries. The chapter then traces the evolution of the serial form, looking at an early twelve-part Edison production, What Happened to Mary, whose first installment was released on July 26, 1912. It also describes the serial The Perils of Pauline (released beginning March 23, 1914), which not only heightened interest in the genre; it also immortalized its star, Pearl White, and became the most famous of all the early chapter plays. However, it was the pioneering serials produced by filmmakers Ted and Leo Wharton that would have the most profound and sustained impact on the genre.

Keywords:   serial motion picture, installment dramas, incremental storytelling, print industry, film industry, serial form, filmmakers, Ted Wharton, Leo Wharton

Cornell Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.