austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

To everyone he meets he stays a stranger

The Perils Of Pauline Episode Two, ``The Typhoon of Terror'', opens with the discovery that everybody wasn't killed in the temple explosion/collapse/implosion/whatnot. Sure, they were bombed by an armada of biplanes --- and isn't that quintessentially 1933? --- but none of the player characters were wounded.

But they take the Professor back home, and Pauline guards the half-disc with her person, which makes sense since she's actually reasonably protagonistic this serial. Oh, she keeps getting into trouble, but, she's never the passive victim of it. She gets kidnapped right away, and they grab the disc off her, but she's in there fighting. Warde cares for Dr Hargraves, who delivers a 400-yard expository dump explaining how the macguffin is this powerful invisible poison gas which he hopes to secure for ``our nation'', without, I note, taking care to find out what nation Warde might be rooting for here.

The other half of the disc is alleged to be in Sarawak, so Bashan figures to set sail, and Pauline escapes soon as she's found out where the plot's to go. Come nightfall, Bashan and his crew is setting off in the water, and Pauline and her team chase after. There's some nice shots here, with brilliant white sails and ship elements set against stark black backgrounds, and since most of the characters are wearing light outfits you can actually make out what they're doing. It'd be absurd to call that noir, but it is stylish.

Our Heroes overtake and board Bashan's ship, on the fine legal theory that they're the good guys so they can just take over other people's ships when they're barely out of port. Bashan, not unfairly, sneers about their starting Mutiny on the high seas, but, the winds are picking up, a storm is blowing in, and lightning shatters one of the masts. Things degenerate into fisticuffsmanship on deck.

Mildly dopey adventure serials like this always have a slippery scale of morality, but this is one of the more egregious examples: what grounds do Our Heroes have for capturing Bashan's ship? Well, in storytelling terms they're on reasonable grounds since they're stealing back the disc that Bashan stole. But try defending that in any court. Maybe they could excuse it on the grounds that with the Revolution being on there weren't any competent legal authorities to handle the matter, except they got to Bashan's boat by dodging a gunboat from the, far as we could tell, functioning coast guard. Yes, yes, action must advance, but must it be so clumsy in doing so?

Trivia: After 1920 ``walk-off'' home runs, game-winning home runs with men on base, were counted as home runs rather than the minimum hit which would score the winning run. Thus an 8 July 1918 home run by Babe Ruth was counted as a triple; by the modern measure, this would give Ruth 715 home runs. Source: The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz.

Currently Reading: Today and Tomorrow And ..., Isaac Asimov. I wonder what Asimov's 60s-70s writings would have been like if he'd heard of the demographic transition. Also, as ever, predictions about what life Will Be Like in thirty years are hilarious, although he was at least reasonably close to the mark in predicting that ``non-procreative'' sexual acts would be a lot more socially acceptable. On the other hand, that requires thinking of Asimov thinking about ``non-procreative'' sexual acts, which just doesn't compute, and while he's not in the top three quartiles of creepy in science fiction circles talking about how to assign the right to procreate (I don't remember if any of his stories had that as a societal plot point, actually; maybe Pebble In The Sky but that was much more tightly focused on the Sixty) it's still creepy when anybody says it.

Tags: movies, perils of pauline, serials

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