Works featuring "social commentary" (28)


The original film is 2.5 hours, so this version is missing more than half the film - most notably, the intertitles. Also, the two main male leads share similar costumes, physique, mustaches, and hair styles, and are both seen with the same woman. So this version is tricky to follow, but is worth the effort: a more natural acting style, location filming, unforgettable scenes of crowd uprising, and a story that subtly surveys the intersection between emotional and social landscapes - at a time when US film was still honing its huckster skills of grabbing the attention of the audience, then ramming views and values (aka, propaganda) down its throat.

Traffic In Souls

A country girl, just into the big city, is misled from the train station to a 'den of iniquity' where she is held captive. Two immigrant girls, literally fresh off the boat, are promised 'good positions and salary' but instead are trapped in that same den. A naive city girl falls for a smooth operator who drugs her drink then carries her off to another den. All the work of one mob, and a high society elite who is, literally, 'the man higher up' - his office is upstairs from the mob's. This mob doesn't look tough, but they go out like gangsters - almost 20 years before "Little Caesar" and "Scarface". And although we're supposed to believe the man higher up had no connections with police, a member of the upper class rolling in cash by enslaving some of the most vulnerable members of the lower classes - in a way that's despised by general society - is nontheless an unusually provocative plot line for early American film.