I’d presumed the whole of “Plunder” (1923) to be lost, so I settled for the 16 available minutes on DVD from The Serial Sqaudron’s The Lost Serial Collection, but it appears as though all 15 chapters are held (search “Plunder”) by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Since I’m on the wrong coast for easy access to that, I’m pretty happy right now just to have had the opportunity to pick up the Serial Squadron DVD (Though, of course, if there’s anything more complete available on DVD please feel free to write me).
As always at this point there was a little excitement popping a new (to me) Warren William title into my DVD player. While the Lost Serial Collection contains enough material to fill 2 DVDs, the available sections of “Plunder,” parts of Chapters 9 and 15, total all of 16 minutes. I popped DVD #1 into my player and was greeted by a menu where I immediately clicked “Pearl White,” to be led into a deeper menu of White offerings of which I selected, of course, “Plunder.” In fact, I haven’t watched anything else. I was greeted with an image of an often reproduced poster for plunder, followed by reproductions of two still photos, each including Warren William, one of which is reproduced for you below:
Following the stills, Episode 9, Part 1 of “Gone Clean Through” begins playing. Backwoodsman Snake Jandus joins up with city slicker Jud Deering (Harry Semels) in order to lure Pearl into a batch of quicksand. Sinking deeper and deeper into the muck while her enemies celebrate and prematurely depart, Pearl finally frees herself by shooting free one of the vines overhead and using it to pull her way from the trap. Mounting her horse she races after Jandus and Deering, while in the meantime Deering turns on the Snake and disposes of him. Once Pearl catches up with Deering they actually have a little brawl which results in Pearl rolling down a hill and Deering riding off. End of Episode 9.
What, no Warren William? Not in what’s included of Episode 9, no.
Skip to Episode 15, the final portion of “Plunder,” titled “A King’s Ransom,” which after informing us that Pearl and Jones (Warren W. Krech, yep, that Warren William guy) are proceeding “with the business of having the skyscraper undermined and shored” (huh) returns us to the city (Okay, we haven’t actually been to the city yet, but “Plunder” is billed as a “mystery story of New York”) with the shot of a building exterior.
Inside we see Pearl standing above a male figure who’s up past his waist in a hole that he’s chopping deeper into with a pick axe. Just 28 or 29 depending upon the time of production, Warren William wears the familiar ghost white complexion of silent film, his hair is slicked back and the familiar mustache is not in place. Pearl joins him in the hole and together they dig and chop at the soil looking to unearth a chest the title cards have told us about.
Outside the gates of the building Deering appears–he’s with a woman, with whom he confers, but there’s simply not enough here to know how she played into the story of “Plunder.” Deering climbs the gate and scurries into the building where hovering in the background he watches Jones and Pearl digging for booty.
Finally, they find it. Warren William Krech’s Jones lifts the chest from the ground and he and Pearl celebrate by each raising a triumphant hand to the air and then shaking hands on a job well done. As Jones goes to crack the chest open Pearl discovers a smoking bomb tossed into their area by Deering. She hurls it in another direction and it quickly explodes knocking over pillars that held up the ceiling and bringing the roof down on Deering himself.
Jones takes a closer look at the situation and returns to say:
“He’s dead! But the way is clear! We’re not beaten yet. I’m going to open that box!”
Or rather the title card tells us that he says that, but any fan of Warren William’s can hear his crystal clear voice enunciating each syllable with a hammer-like exclamation coming at the appropriate punctuation.
Meanwhile, outside of the building police and pedestrians have gathered at the gates and are hopping around outside driven close to a frenzy in response to the explosion. After making all of the appropriate gestures of shock they start climbing the gate with hopes of inspecting the damage.
Inside Jones pries the chest open to reveal a pirate’s booty of jewels. It’s only at this point that the camera gets close enough to see Warren William clearly as he eyes the jewels in profile and then looks up at Pearl White who’s just as impressed on the right side of the frame.
We never find out what happens with the people rushing in the building from outside because “Plunder” then moves to black, a title explaining “And then, Honeymooning” where Jones stands gazing out at the city, presumably from a ship, looking a little odd to this Warren William fan with a Newsboy cap on his head. Then, as shown below, he’s joined by Pearl. She slowly approaches Jones for a kiss, but they settle for the polite embrace shown in the screen capture:
“Plunder,” written by Bertram Millhauser and directed by George B. Seitz for his George B. Seitz productions, was distributed by Pathe Exchange with a January 23, 1923 U.S. release date. It was filmed in New York, where Warren William’s Broadway career had been underway since 1920, though it is actually his second film following the previous years “The Town That Forgot God.” Following “Plunder” Warren Krech would concentrate his efforts on his Broadway and not make another film until he departed from the live stage once and for all and headed to Hollywood where he first appeared in “Honor of the Family” for Warner Brothers in 1932.
I don’t see a complete running time posted anywhere for “Plunder,” but here are the titles of each of the 15 episodes:
1 – The Bandaged Man
2 – Held By the Enemy
3 – The Hidden Thing
4 – Ruin
5 – To Beat a Knave
6 – Heights of Hazard
7 – Mocked from the Grave
8 – The Human Target
9 – Game Clear Through
10 – Against Time
11 – Spunk
12 – Under the Floor
13 – Swamp of Lost Souls
14 – The Madman
15 – A King’s Ransom
Note: I don’t even know if it exists, but if anyone can put a copy of the aforementioned “The Town That Forgot God” to DVD for me, please feel free to contact me with details.