The Lion Man (1919)

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Based on a minor pulp-fiction classic, Randall Parrish' The Strange Case of Cavendish, this Universal serial in 18 chapters featured Kathleen O'Connor as Stella Donovan, an enterprising newspaper reporter crashing a mysterious circus operated by millionaire Frederick Cavendish (J. Barney Sherry). Working undercover as a high-wire artist (!), the fearless Stella learns that Cavendish is about to disinherit his smooth-talking but unsavory nephew John (Robert Walker). The latter, Stella discovers, plans to kill his uncle with the assistance of an equally unscrupulous attorney, Enright (Henry Barrows), and a glamorous but deadly actress, Celeste la Rue (Gertrude Astor). But when Cavendish mysteriously disappears, suspicion falls not on the plotters but mining engineer Jim Westcott (Jack Perrin), who had been observed quarreling with the missing millionaire. Strongly believing Jim to be innocent, Stella begins a dangerous investigation, aided, at the most surprising moments, by a stranger known only as "the Lion Man." Is Cavendish really dead? And is the Lion Man involved in his disappearance? The final chapter, "In the Nick of Time," answered all the questions.