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The Perils of Pauline1947

  • 3.3
The original PERILS OF PAULINE was the most famous serial of the silent era, putting star Pearl White though a nonstop barrage of perilous crises she was sure to survive (until next week's chapter, at least). This musical biography was a high point in the rather brief stardom of Betty Hutton, a rambunctious multi-talent. She plays White herself, introduced as a turn-of-the-century sweatshop seamstress (her first song is a sarcastic ode to the sewing machine) who gets a showbiz break with a traveling stage company en route to success in the wild and wooly world of early motion pictures. This allows Hutton to clown around in various guises from a South Sea siren in a sarong to a plantation "mammy" in unfortunate blackface. It includes small parts for actual silent-era comedy stars like Snub Pollard and Chester Conklin as well as some actors of that era who worked with the real Pearl White. The most lavish production number here is "Poppa, Don't Preach at Me" which bears as much resemblance to Madonna's similarly titled hit as this does to Pearl White's life, aside from the fact that the real one also sang on stage, moved to Paris and suffered serious injuries performing stunts. - Dennis Harvey

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