Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hazards of Helen - Episode 26 - The Wild Engine - 1915

Country: USA
Language: English
Director: J.P. McGowan
Writer: Edward T. Matlack (story)
Stars: Helen Holmes, Leo D. Maloney and Rex Downs
Release Date: 8 May 1915 (USA)
Also known as: The Wild Engine
Production Co: Kalem Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Genres: Short | Thriller
Did you know? This film was re-edited with another Hazards of Helen episode by the Aywon company and re-issued in 1919 as chapter one of "The Adventures of Helen".
Helen, informed of the danger which menaces an excursion train because another engine on the same track is running wild, mounts a motorcycle and speeds down the track to warn the passengers of their imminent peril. Nearing a river trestle under repair, she hurtles into the river; undaunted, she swims to the opposite bank and flags down the excursion train in the nick of time, causing the engineer to run his train onto a siding just a few moments before the runaway dashes by.
Spunky gal heroines were all the rage in the years prior to and during World War I. In addition to the famous Perils of Pauline, there were also Adventures of Kathlyn, Exploits of Elaine, Ventures of Marguerite, and Hazards of Helen. This final series encompassed a remarkable 119 episodes, of which The Wild Engine was number 26. Helen Holmes starred as the titular character in dozens of these episodes, including this one, in which she is hired as a railroad telegrapher and ends up forestalling a dreadful locomotive accident. Admirers of rail equipment and rolling stock will be in seventh heaven, as there are three separate trains involved, and we also get a close look at line switching and signals operation. As for Helen, she 'borrows' Hoot Gibson's motorcycle and drives it off the edge of a drawbridge! Holmes is a believable hero and the film an impressive 14-minute thrill ride.

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