Nisha Rathode

The Adventures of Kathlyn

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Director  Francis J. Grandon
5.9/10 IMDb

Genre  Adventure
Country  United States
Cast  Kathlyn Williams
Language  silent film English intertitles
Release date  1913 (1913)
Writer  Harold McGrath (story), Gilson Willets
Genres  Silent film, Adventure Film, Indie film, Black-and-white
Similar movies  Hitman: Agent 47, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, The Amazing Spider-Man, V for Vendetta

The Adventures of Kathlyn (1913) is an American motion picture serial released on December 29, 1913 by the Selig Polyscope Company. An adventure serial filmed in Chicago, Illinois, its thirteen episodes were directed by Francis J. Grandon from a story by Harold MacGrath and Gilson Willets and starred Kathlyn Williams as the heroine. Harold MacGrath's novel of the same title was released a few days later in January 1914, so as to be in book stores at the same time as the serial was playing in theaters.


The Adventures of Kathlyn was the second serial ever made by an American film studio, and is considered to be the first of the cliffhanger serials that became enormously popular during the next decade.

The success of the serial spawned a 1916 feature-length film of the same title with basically the same crew and cast.


The serial came about due to a newspaper circulation war in Chicago that forced the Chicago Tribune to use more sensationalism. William Selig, noting the popularity of serial fiction in newspapers and magazines, took the idea of a film serial to the newspaper. Despite the Tribune being in favor of abolishing nickelodeons only 5 years previously, Tribune editor James Keeley agreed and the serial was released as a promotional project. The chapters of the film were released biweekly and the story was also printed as a newspaper serial in the Tribune and other newspapers including the Los Angeles Times.

Although the first American film serial was What Happened to Mary, The Adventures of Kathlyn is a more important piece of film history, being the first serial to use cliffhangers as the ending of its chapters—and thus the first recognizable film serial. Frank Leon Smith, in a letter to Films in Review (February 1958), wrote that the cliffhanger ending of chapter one "was a 'situation' ending, but other episodes wound up with sensational action or stunts, broken for holdover suspense...gave the serial both the key to its success and the assurance of its doom."

The Adventures of Kathlyn used animals from the Selig Zoo, and had more action than What Happened to Mary. The Tribune announced a 10% increase in circulation as a result of the film serial's success.

Preservation status

The film is now considered to be a lost film. According to, however, the Cineteca del Friuli film archive has the first episode and the EYE Film Institute Netherlands possesses print fragments.

Chapter titles

  1. The Adventures of Kathlyn
  2. The Two Orphans
  3. The Temple of the Lion
  4. A Royal Slave
  5. A Colonel in Chains
  6. Three Bags of Silver
  7. The Garden of Brides
  8. The Cruel Crown
  9. The Spellbound Multitude
  10. A Warrior Maid
  11. The Forged Parchment
  12. The King's Will
  13. The Court of Death


The Adventures of Kathlyn Wikipedia
The Adventures of Kathlyn IMDbThe Adventures of Kathlyn

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