* indicates New Definition
MOVIE SERIAL, FILM SERIAL, OR CHAPTER PLAY was a was a motion picture broken into a number of segments or parts and shown in movie theaters, weekly or bi-weekly, in conjunction with a feature film.
* A FEATURE film, FEATURE-LENGTH film, FULL-LENGTH film or just plain FEATURE is a film with a running time of at least 40 minutes according the American Film Institute. The Screen Actors Guild definition sets the minimum length at 80 minutes. Features ususually tell the complete story unlike serials where the story is told chapter by chapter until it is complete.
A CLIFFHANGER was a plot device that left the hero or heroine in a perilous situation with no chance of escape at the end of the film. The audience had no choice but to return the following week to discover the outcome. Common endings found the characters:
(1). Hanging over a cliff, usually as the villain gloated above and waited for them to plummet
thousands of feet to their deaths.
(2). Trapped in a burning building
(3). Being trampled by horses,
(4). Knocked unconscious in a car as it goes over a cliff,
(5). Crashing in an airplane, and
(6). Watching as the burning fuse of a nearby bundle of dynamite sparked and sputtered its way
towards the deadly explosive
Besides the hero or heroine, some terms are used to define villains and supporting players:
Over the years, a countless pictorial cliches have risen from the serial genre: the helpless female victim or the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, the mustache-twirling villain, the determined hero who vaults multiple obstacles to save his lady love. Plots from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and its characters of Dudley Do-Right, Nell Fenwick, and Snidely Whiplash are pitch-perfect caricatures of the genre.
The term TALKIE made headlines in 1927 when sound was added to parts of The Jazz Singer. By the mid-1930s, all films, features and serials, had synchronized-sound accompaning their motion pictures.