9

WEDNESDAY

Librarian of Congress James Billington has estimated that 80 percent of the films made before 1930 have been lost forever. Interestingly, 35 mm prints for 14 of the 15-chapter 1919 serial The Trail of the Octopus survive, and yet it remains in obscurity. Such normally dependable sources as Halliwell’s Film Guide, Katz’s The Film Encyclopedia, and even The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film are mute on the subject. For future editions of those works, let it be noted that Octopus is “an action-packed chapterplay” that pits a “master criminologist” against a “sinister…gang” in a race for a treasure vault. Just the sort of “exotic” entertainment that captured the public’s imagination before 24-hour global communications rendered the world far less quaint. Octopus was one of nine serials that stars Ben Wilson and Neva Gerber made together before vanishing into the mist. For the missing episode (No. 9), a written summary will be provided. The serial screens over two evenings, the second of which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. (202) 707-5677. (Dave Nuttycombe)