The Exploits of Elaine

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The Exploits of Elaine (1914) is a film serial in the genre of The Perils of Pauline that outgrossed Perils in ticket sales.

The Exploits of Elaine tells the story of a young woman named Elaine who, with the help of a detective, tries to find the man, known only as "The Clutching Hand", who murdered her father. The Clutching Hand was the first Mystery villain to appear in film serials. The concept was widely used for the remainder of the format's existence.

The serial stars Pearl White (who also starred in The Perils of Pauline), Arnold Daly, Sheldon Lewis, Creighton Hale and Riley Hatch. Lionel Barrymore had a small role. The serial was written by Charles W. Goddard, Arthur B. Reeve (story) and George B. Seitz, and directed by Louis J. Gasnier, Seitz, and Leopold Wharton.

The film was produced by the Whartons Studios and distributed by Pathé Exchange, the American distribution branch of the French company Pathé. Pathé was the largest film equipment and production company in the world during the first part of the 20th century.

The Exploits of Elaine was followed in 1915 by The New Exploits of Elaine.

The serial has been named to the United States National Film Registry for its cultural and historic importance.



  • Pearl White - Elaine Dodge
  • Arnold Daly - Detective Craig Kennedy
  • Creighton Hale - Walter Jameson (Ep. 1, 2, 3)
  • Raymond Owens - Walter Jameson (Ep. 4-14)
  • Sheldon Lewis - Perry Bennett / The Clutching Hand. Sheldon Lewis, as the handsome attorney Perry Bennett and The Clutching Hand, was "the first in the serial genre's long parade of unknown menaces"[1][2]
  • Edwin Arden - Wu Fang
  • Leroy Baker - The Butler
  • Bessie Wharton - Aunt Josephine, Mrs. Dodge
  • Riley Hatch - President Dodge (as William Riley Hatch)
  • Robin H. Townley - Limpy Red
  • Floyd Buckley - Michael
  • Lionel Barrymore - Undetermined Role
  • M.W. Rale - Wong Lang Sin. Long Sin is a Yellow Peril character, who wants the Clutching Hand's treasure map. He became just an agent of Wu Fang in the sequel. Wu Fang appeared in several Pearl White serials.[3]
  • George B. Seitz
  • Howard Cody - Undetermined Role
  • Paul Panzer - Undetermined Role (unconfirmed)

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