The week of January 6, 1919, The Master Mystery, a fifteen-chapter serial began unspooling.
According to Houdini The Movie Star Film Notes by Bret Wood:
Upon its original release, The Master Mystery ran slightly longer than five-and-half hours. Several episodes are lost, or only exist in fragmentary condition. Thus the Kino International edition runs slightly less than four hours (238.5 min).
The first episode, “The Living Death”, premiered in New York, the week of January 6, 1919. The Moving Picture World reported, “To say that the opening was auspicious is to use terms which do not adequately describe the facts. It was a tremendous success.” The film packed the three thousand-seat Proctor’s Theatre in Yonkers and another estimated three thousand were turned away.
The serial opened in sixteen theaters throughout New York State.
According to Patrick Culliton:
There were two big stunts in each chapter. Now the twelve surviving chapters don’t contain half of those stunts. Certain stunts that were in mid-chapter have been shifted to be cliff hangers at the ends of chapters.
According to IMDb Trivia:
13 of the original 15 episodes of this serial survive in the UCLA Film and Television Archives.
The Kino Video version contains chapters 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15 in complete form and fragments from chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11.
We definitely have a Master Mystery that needs to be solved. Let’s get this puzzle back together.