The Perils of Pauline (1947) Movie Review

The Perils of Pauline (1947)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler


Starring: Betty Hutton, John Lund, Billy De Wolfe, William Demarest, Constance Collier
Director: George Marshall
Release Date: 4 July 1947
Language: English
Length: 96 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars


“This tuneful comedy is based loosely on the life of irrepressible silent-movie star Pearl White (played to the hilt by Betty Hutton). The film follows White from her humble beginnings as a frustrated sweatshop worker to her days on the road with a repertory company to her worldwide fame as queen of the serials. William Demarest co-stars as stentorian director George “Mac” McGuire, and John Lund portrays Mike Farrington, White’s love interest.” —


This is a funny, lighthearted movie about the actress who played Pauline in the old black-and-white silent films.  Betty Hutton plays the role of Pearl White who starts out on the stage and ends up in farcical roles in Hollywood movies.  She jumps into the movie with zest and humor and makes the most of her role.  John Lund plays her love interest, Michael Farrington, a rather snooty actor who believes that the stage is the only appropriate place to act.  He struggles with loving a woman who is more successful than he is and accepting her help in furthering his career.  Timmy Timmons (Billy De Wolfe) was by far my favorite character in the film.  He follows the 2 lead actors around and kind of does whatever they are doing.  When they are both on stage, he is acting live on stage as well and gets forced into whatever roles no one else wants.  When Pearl gets her big break and is cast as Pauline, he is cast as the villain in the movies.  He has this thin little mustache and is hilarious as he tries to explain the difference between gnashing his teeth and chewing to the director, among other memorable moments.  Constance Collier plays Julia Gibbs, Pearl’s’s mentor, as she struggles to make her way as an actress.  She really believes in her and is willing to put up with a lot to stay her friend.  She also delights in bashing people on the head whenever they threaten her dear friend’s safety.

The story is pretty fast paced and has many clever moments, but isn’t anything special.  It is supposedly based on the life of Pearl White, but I do not know how accurate any of the story is.  There are a few musical numbers, which I really enjoyed, but there are not very many of them, which was too bad as I would have enjoyed seeing more of them.  Still, this is an enjoyable little movie if you are looking for something about Hollywood when it is very first beginning.  For younger viewers who have never been introduced to silent films, they will not really understand what is going on, but for older viewers, this will be a lot of fun to watch and laugh at.  Just remember – the audience can’t hear anything you are saying so you have to “talk” with your hands!  Great fun!


This movie contains some verbal arguments, a few scenes of smoking & drinking and passionate on-stage kisses (all closed mouthed, of course).  Appropriate for viewers of all ages, recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Filed under Based on a Real Story Movies, Biopic Movies, Classic Movies, Comedy Movies, Musicals, Romantic Comedy Movies

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