Isle of Sunken Gold (1927)

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Pioneering screen actress Anita Stewart, who had starred in Vitagraph's hugely successful serial The Goddess back in 1915, attempted to jump-start a waning career with yet another chapterplay, Mascot Pictures' low-budget The Isle of Sunken Gold. But producer Nat Levine famously caught them on their way up or down, and Stewart was definitely in the latter category. Here she shared top billing with Duke Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian swimming champion, but unlike The Goddess, The Isle of Sunken Gold was geared thoroughly to the small fry, who tended to dismiss the leading lady as just another prop. A treasure map is once again the center of attention, with Stewart, a white jungle princess, holding one half and gallant sea captain Bruce Gordon the other. There is a gang of extremely hostile mutineers, a mysterious figure known only as the "Devil-Ape" and sundry other serial ingredients. But front and center there is Kahanamoku, the serial's perhaps strongest selling point. Mascot went on to dominate the serial field in the 1930s, but The Isle of Sunken Gold was not one for the record books. As for Anita Stewart, except for a Buster Keaton two-reeler, The Hollywood Handicap (1932), her screen career had come to a rather ignominious end.