Part Five of our serial photoplay, THE TRAIL OF THE OCTOPUS — “The Eye of Satan.”
Last week, ace criminologist Carter Holmes and his possible romantic interest Ruth Stanhope were all set to plunge into a shallow river in a runaway railway carriage. This week, in the rather desultory way this serial tends to resolve things, they fail to do so: the carriage grinds to a halt, but then Carter gets shoved in the drink by a bad guy anyhow. The carriage is reconnected to the parent train and it chuffs off with Ruthie rekidnapped, while the sodden criminologist drags himself from the depths, a sorry sight.
Ruth is to be delivered into the nefarious clutches of Wang Foo, who might as well be called Hoo Hee for all I care. He’s a fake Chinese character in wax eyelids, and he seems to be a big cheese in Chinatown. What his interest is in the ceremonial daggers, the stone vault or the Egyptian figurine, I don’t know.
Much of this week’s action takes place in a San Francisco hotel — always a place redolent with adventure. There’s spying from behind newspapers, eavesdropping, and surprise encounters in corridors. A guy from episode one whom we thought was dead has turned up, though all he seems to do is stroll about, startling the supporting players.
A policeman testifies to the difficulty of making a pinch in Chinatown, owing to the fact that the whole district is undermined by tunnels so that fugitive Chinamen may burrow through the earth like rodents and thus evade capture.
An assassination is prepared by wiring a door knob to the electric power line.
Overhearing Monsieur X’s secret password, Holmes uses it and a stolen X-mask to pass himself off as the intrepid miscreant. Rather like the bit in DUCK SOUP where everybody is disguised as Groucho, this leads to confusion and intrigue. A good job none of them runs into a mirror.
Ruth engineers her own rescue by slipping the phone off the hook and declaring “The Chief of Police” — cut to switchboard operator, who smartly puts her right through to the man in charge — cut back to Ruth finishing her sentence “is a friend of mine.” In this way, her faux-riental captor thinks she’s just making conversation, rather than calling for help. She’s then able to give the cops the address she’s being kept at. It’s nice to see a smart damsel in distress for a change.
Carter Holmes jalopies over in time to save Ruth from a fat guy worse than death.
The guy everyone thought was dead disguises himself as Monsieur X also. Now there are three of them running about Frisco. Poor Ruth allows herself to be rescued by the wrong guy. Or not so much rescued, more re-abducted, or possibly just stolen, since she was already abducted to begin with. When you’re passed around as much as her, you must start to feel a little objectified.
Sent back to the same hotel Holmes is staying in, Ruth is about to fall prey to the rug merchant’s electrified knob. The excitement is unbearable!