Two peasant children, Mytyl and Tyltyl, are led by Berylune, a fairy, to search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. Berylune gives Tyltyl a cap with a diamond setting, and when Tyltyl turns the... See full summary »
Edwin E. Reed
Three centuries before Christus. Young Cabiria is kidnapped by some pirates during one eruption of the Etna. She is sold as a slave in Carthage, and as she is just going to be sacrificed to... See full summary »
Young Pauline is left a lot of money when her wealthy uncle dies. However, her uncle's secretary has been named as her guardian until she marries, at which time she will officially take ... See full summary »
Charles is a young provincial coming up to Paris to study law. He shares his cousin Paul's flat. Paul is a kind of decadent boy, a disillusioned pleasure-seeker, always dragging along with ... See full summary »
Stella Maris is a beautiful, crippled girl, who is cared for by a rich family. They shield her from the harsh realities of the world, so that she has no idea of the cruel things that some ... See full summary »
Sue Graham is a small town girl who wants to be a motion picture star. She wins a contract when a picture of a very pretty girl is sent to a studio instead of her picture. When she arrives ... See full summary »
F. Richard Jones
Guido Carani, an engineer of noble descent, has just lost his son born to him by a chorus dancer, who, desperate, has become a nun. After a while he also loses his wife and daughter in a ... See full summary »
An early social commentary on the New York sex trade, this film attempts to sensationalize prostitution, especially forced prostitution. Featuring a number of characters and sub-plots, the film is presented as if it were a documentary. Written by
Describing this as the most important film in Universal Picture's history (and Carl Laemmle's) may not be an overstatement. Made for a mere $5,700.00 and tackling the lurid subject of white slavery, this (Universal's first feature length release) earned a whopping $450,000.00 and it put the company squarely on the map. See more »
TRAFFIC IN SOULS (1913) is one of the first feature films to really define what feature films would become aesthetically. It depicts the story of several women who are lured into a house of ill repute, as well as the unmasking of a powerful figure who pulls the strings who is not all that he seems
SCRIPT: The script of TRAFFIC IN SOULS juggles multiple narrative threads at a time when most movies were short features that only told one story. It handles the separate yet related stories quite successfully. One flaw I did notice is that the brothel doesn't have any clients but there may have been some reason for doing so, so as not to offend the sensibilities of 1913 audiences. In any case, the story is fairly realistic and must have been shocking for its day. There are nice little details, too like the police officer and the girl asking the window cleaner to look away while they kiss briefly, the shopgirl who gets fired and sticks her tongue out at her boss, among other things. A bit melodramatic at times, and with a little padding, but not too much. The story is told with brisk efficiency and the film moves along at a nice pace. It is actually quite suspenseful as well. There's an intriguing technological element as well, with a kind of telegraph pen that writes remotely and a phonograph that records conversations. SCORE: 8/10.
ACTING: The acting here is exceptionally naturalistic, at a time when many "feature" films were little more than stage plays with overly emphatic acting. Particular standouts are Jane Gail as Mary Barton, William Welsh as the "philanthropist" Trubus, as Ethel Grandin as Lorna Barton. There's very little hamming it up in this film, and the realistic, restrained performances help to give a documentary feel to the proceedings. SCORE: 9/10
CINEMATOGRAPHY/PRODUCTION: TRAFFIC IN SOULS shows a quite advanced sense of editing for its day, although some of it is a bit choppy (which was confirmed by a contemporary review). There is not a lot of camera movement in the movie, but the briskly paced editing keeps the movie from being too static (again, unlike other features of the time). We are treated to some unusual camera angles and tracking shots at various points of the film. There aren't really any tight close-ups, and this keeps the movie feeling a bit remote over the course of its run time. By far the most remarkable feature of TRAFFIC IN SOULS is its liberal use of outdoor location shooting, which gives it a remarkable realism that is still striking today. Although other features a few years later (including one I don't want to name) would use more advanced features like iris shots and tinting, TRAFFIC IN SOULS is still pretty advanced for its time. SCORE: 9/10
SUMMARY: TRAFFIC IN SOULS deserves more recognition as being a movie that helped set the standard for feature films, even before BIRTH OF A NATION. Its story is quite complex, but fast paced and engrossing. The acting is refreshingly and remarkably naturalistic. Its cinematography and editing are well executed, helping to pave the way for feature films to break away from the stage and come into their own as an art form in their own right. SCORE: 9/10
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