Perils of Pauline, The (1947): Fictionalized Biopic of Silent Film Star Pearl White, Starring Betty Hutton

George Marshall directed The Perils of Pauline, a fictionalized account of silent film star Pearl White’s rise to fame, starring Betty Hutton as White.

A broad satire of silent production, the film is a musical-comedy vehicle for Hutton.

The original songs by Frank Loesser include the standard “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So”, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. Paul Panzer, who played the villain in the 1914 film The Perils of Pauline, has a very small part in this film, as do silent-comedy veterans Chester Conklin, Hank Mann, Snub Pollard, and James Finlayson.

Pearl White (Betty Hutton) is a frustrated factory worker who aspires to become an actress. She joins a touring theatrical troupe managed by the handsome but pompous Mike (John Lund).  However, fame and fortune elude her because she’s unable to suppress her natural rambunctiousness.

In desperation, White takes a job at a movie studio, where she finds herself in the middle of a slapstick pie fight. With the help of bombastic director Mac (William Demarest), top-hatted villain portrayer Timmy (Billy De Wolfe), and imperious dramatics coach Julia (Constance Collier), Pearl becomes world-famous as the star of such cliffhanging, tied-to-the-railroad-tracks serials as The Perils of Pauline.

Betty Hutton as Pearl White
John Lund as Michael Farrington
Billy De Wolfe as Mr. Timmy Timmons
William Demarest as George “Mac” McGuire
Constance Collier as Julia Gibbs
Frank Faylen as Mr. Joe Gurt
William Farnum as Western Saloon Set Hero
Chester Conklin as Comic Chef
Paul Panzer as Drawing Room Gent