serials were very popular in the 1910ís through mid 1950ís.
A movie serial consisted of a series of unfinished chapters
or episodes that revolved around one central plot. The last
episode would bring the serial to its final conclusion. The
words "To Be Continued" were used to end each individual
chapter, leading to the final installment.
the US, studios were convinced that audiences wouldn't sit for
longer films so they were very hesitant to show longer than
the normal 12 minute reels.
first full feature film in the US was Vitagraph's
4 reel production of Les Miserables in 1909. BUT each
reel was released separately. Several full feature films were
released soon afterwards but also one reel at a time.
though these were 'installments' of a film, these were NOT considered
have considered Edison's
12 episode production of What Happened to Mary to be
the first US serial. It's true that it was in 12 episodes BUT
it is not considered a true serial because each episode was
complete in itself.
Adventures of Kathlyn,which began in December of 1913, is
considered the first real serial because it brought together
all the elements of a serial.
first US talkie serial was King of the Kongo, which was
a 10-episode serial released by Mascot
Pictures in 1929 starring Boris Karloff.
longest serial was The Hazards of Helen, which was 119
one reel episodes produced by Kalem
Pictures. This serial was released from Nov 7, 1914 until
Feb. 24 1917. The leading part of Helen was played by 3 different
actresses, Helen Holmes (episodes 1-26), Elsie McLeod (episodes
27-49) and Helen Gibson (episodes 50-119).
as well as some independents, were the only studios producing
serials. The "Big Five" - MGM,
Century Fox, Paramount
and RKO did not venture into the serial market.
serial episode would last about twenty minutes. It would normally
be presented after the cartoon shorts and before the feature
presentation. The serial chapters would be shown in sequential
order usually on a weekly basis, until reaching its final "spine-tingling"
last Hollywood serial was Columbia
Pictures Blazing the Overland Trail released in 1956.
the 44 year duration of the US serial, it is estimated that
350 silent serials and 231 talkie serials were released.
a list of introductions of serials into other countries:
- 1917 - Les Habitants de la Lenora
Belgium - 1919 - la Belgique Martyre
Cuba - 1920 - el Genio del Mal
France - 1913 - Fantomas
Germany - 1920 - Die Herrin de Welt
India - 1918 - Ram Banvas
Italy - 1918 - Man in the Black Cape
Japan - 1925 - Sekai no Jo-jo (Queen of the World)
Mexico - 1919 - el Automovil Gris
Russia - 1914 - Sonka, the Goden Hand
Spain - 1915 - Los Misterios
US, France and Spain were the only countries to make a significant
number of serials.
movie serial consisted of a series of unfinished chapters or
episodes that evolved around one plot - the last chapter bringing
the serial to its final conclusion. The words "To Be Continued"
were used to end each individual chapter, leading to the final
they did with full-length features, the movie studios released
movie posters for each episode of their serial titles. These
posters would have the title of the serial, the artwork and
stars, and the chapter number. Some posters even indicate the
number of total chapters.
posters have remained a somewhat overlooked area of movie art.
By definition, serial posters qualify as "legitimate movie art"
because they were issued directly to theatres or film exhibitors
for advertising purposes only.
some reason, they are not as sought-after as much as posters
of feature films from the same time periods. There are collectors
who do collect serial movie art and this trend is likely to
continue, given the fact of the limited number of serials produced
and therefore the limited number of posters available.
a list of American serial titles, click HERE.
go to the list in our database, click HERE.