Plunder (1923)

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Returning after a four year hiatus to the genre that had made her a world-wide household name back in the 1910s, Pearl White starred as Pearl Travers, a girl who stumbles over buried treasure in this 15 chapter serial. Unfortunately for both Pearl and the villain, Jud Deering (Harry Semels), the treasure is buried under a newly erected skyscraper. Pearl and Deering vie with each other to acquire an owner's share in the building, with the latter having the upper hand by not shying away from both theft and murder. Thrown into this mix of adventure of melodrama is a mad doctor and his Frankenstein-like creation and a helpful young leading man. The latter was played by one Warren Krech, a handsome, mustachioed leading man who sensibly changed his name to Warren William. The serial was a success at the box office if not exactly a happy experience for its leading lady. Having abandoned the serial field in 1919 in favor of feature films, White had only achieved modest success. By 1923, she was visibly tired, suffered from bad eyesight, which threw her timing, and was in constant pain from an old back injury. On top of all that, White's double, John Stevenson, was killed performing one of the serial's many elaborate stunts. Plunder was produced and directed by George B. Seitz, who more than anyone had been the brains behind White's rise to serial fame in the '10s. But not even Seitz could turn Plunder into the thrilling comeback that White had hoped for, and she finished her career on a rather downbeat note. Returning to her home in Paris, France, Pearl White filmed the little seen French serial Terreur (aka Perils of Paris) in 1924 and left the screen for good. She died prematurely in 1938, reportedly from injuries sustained during the filming of her old serials.