History of film Film serials. This type of episode usually had a cheap, mechanical cliffhanger, like a time bomb rather than being unconscious in a runaway vehicle. Don Winslow of the Navy may exemplify Universal's best war-themed chapterplay.
An early attempt at a low-budget Western serial, filmed in color, was entitled The Silver Avenger. Further, the Great Depression made it impossible for many of the smaller companies that produced serials to upgrade to sound, and they went out of business. The beginning of each chapter would bring the story up to date by repeating the last few minutes of the previous chapter, and then revealing how the main character escaped.
Another popular serial was the episode The Hazards of Helen made by Kalem Studios and starring Helen Holmes for the first forty-eight episodes then Helen Gibson for the remainder. Several serials are now in the public domain. By Republic had amassed an impressive backlog of action highlights, which were cleverly re-edited into later serials to save money. Most of the trick scenes were engineered by Howard and Theodore Lydecker. Several independent companies for example, Mascot Pictures made Western serials.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The early independent studios had none of these, except for being able to rent the sets of independent producers of western features. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. Series of short subject films.
Republic was one of Hollywood's smaller studios, but its serials have been hailed as some of the best, especially those directed by John English and William Witney. In the s, serial fan Blackie Seymour shot a complete chapter serial called The Return of the Copperhead. Universal's last serial was The Mysterious Mr. Writers and directors were already geared to staging exciting films, and Republic improved on Mascot, adding music to underscore the action, and staging more elaborate stunts. Epic footage from this western serial turned up again and again in later serials and features.
When the studio reorganized as Universal-International, it shut down most of the production units, including the serial crew. Many of the episodes have clues, dialogue, and events leading the viewer to think that any of the candidates were the mastermind.
Republic had a Packard limousine and a Ford Woodie station wagon used in serial after serial so they could match the shots with the stock footage from the model or previous stunt driving. Former silent-serial director James W. Often the reprised scene would add an element not seen in the previous close, but unless it contradicted something shown previously, audiences accepted the explanation. These spoofed the cliffhanger serial form.
Exposition of what led up to the previous episode's cliffhanger was usually displayed on placards with a photograph of one of the characters on it. This article needs additional citations for verification. The hero and heroine would face one trap after another, battling countless thugs and lackeys, before finally defeating the villain.
Republic serials are noted for outstanding special effects, such as large-scale explosions and demolitions, and the more fantastic visuals like Captain Marvel and Rocketman flying. They were successful enough that Columbia then established its own serial unit and the Weisses essentially disappeared from the serial scene.
Viewers had to return each week to see the cliffhangers resolved and to follow the continuing story. The major studios had their own retinues of actors and writers, their own prop departments, existing sets, stock footage, and music libraries. In the early s a handful of independent companies tried their hand at making serials, but managed only two or three, including the once-prolific Weiss Brothers. This episode traditionally has the most detailed credits at the beginning, often with pictures of the actors with their names and that of the character they play. Columbia also used cartoon animation instead of more expensive special effects with its science-fictional serials.
Roles in the serial are played by, among others, film historians and serial fans Alan Barbour and William K. Episodes were short, full of wild action and usually ended on a cliffhanger. This serial is notable for having been directed by Richard Donner and featuring the first African American action hero in a chapter play. The arrival of sound technology made it costlier to produce serials, so that they were no longer as profitable on a flat rental basis. The end credits promised a second serial, Commie Commandos From Mars.
Universal Pictures also kept its serial unit alive through the transition. There have been several posts attempts at reviving or recalling cliffhanger serials, by both fans and professional studios, and serials were often spoofed in cartoons of the s. The s cartoon show Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle included two serial-style episodes per program.
Columbia built many serials around name-brand heroes. Often there follows a montage of scenes lifted from the cliffhangers of previous serials to depict the ways in which the master criminal was a serial killer with a motive. Republic's serial scripts were written by a team of up to seven writers.
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Four silent Tarzan serials were also made. The firms saved money by reusing the same cliffhangers, stunt and special effect sequences over the years.
As this would have required subcontracting the optical effects, Republic saved money by not using it. For the comedy film, see Serial film. Batman was quite popular, and Superman was phenomenally successful. Male fistfighters all wore hats so that the change from actor to stunt double would not be caught so easily.
The serials starring women were the most popular during the silent period but in the sound era few serials had a female character in the major role. Three different serials had them chasing the Art Deco sound truck, required for location shooting, new fast internet browser for various reasons.
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