chapter  1
2 Pages

might attribute this creative laziness to a generally moribund decade artistically; to a generation of viewers raised on television and accustomed to repeat, episodic entertainment (as Vincent Canby does in a recent essay in The New York Times ); to the demise of the studio system and the assumption of power by accountants and deal makers; to a relatively thriving economy and conservative political era; or whatever. Except that motion picture "sequel-itis" has been around as long as movies themselves. The fact is, where there has been popular success — whatever the medium -there has been a sequel or a series. (The Bible's Old Testament, after all, was followed by a New Testament; after World War I there naturally came World War II.) In the silent film era, slapstick Mabel comedies featuring nimble Mabel Normand, frequently teamed with chubby Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, and Ambrose shorts starring walrus-mustached Mack Swain were hits of the day. They begat feuding Cohens and Kellys and raucous Bowery Boys, inquisitive Torchy Blanes and vine-swinging Tarzans mid-century, and sexy Emmanuelles, haunting Halloweens and thrilling James Bonds today. Given this history of motion picture series, maybe what's most conspicuous today is that studios are numbering rather than re-titling films in sequence. Many who attended motion picture shows in the 1940s have fond memories of the movie series then popular: from Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes oaters and Frankenstein Monster scarers to Charlie Chan puzzlers and Andy Hardy romancers. But then, at least, they had the decency to call their pictures Son of (Kong) or Return of (The Whistler) or (The Lone Ranger) Rides Again. Motion picture series cross all genres: Westerns (Red Ryder), mystery and suspense (Miss Marple), fantasy (Conan the Barbarian) and horror (Count Yorga), adventure (Romancing the Stone), monsters (King Kong), martial arts (Enter the Dragon), juvenile (Pippi Longstocking), musical (Kay Kyser), comedy (Laurel and