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Hypocrites (1915)

Passed | | Drama | 20 January 1915 (USA)
The parallel stories of a modern preacher and a medieval monk, Gabriel the Ascetic, who is killed by an ignorant mob for making a nude statue representing Truth, which is also represented by a ghostly naked girl who flits throughout the film.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Courtenay Foote ...
Gabriel - the Ascetic (as Mr. Courtenay Foote)
...
The Woman (as Miss Myrtle Stedman)
Herbert Standing ...
The Abbot (as Mr. Herbert Standing)
Adele Farrington ...
The Queen (as Miss Adele Farrington)
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Storyline

The parallel stories of a modern preacher and a medieval monk, Gabriel the Ascetic, who is killed by an ignorant mob for making a nude statue representing Truth, which is also represented by a ghostly naked girl who flits throughout the film.

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Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

20 January 1915 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

It took 100 years for the film to be shown in Ipswich, Suffolk. After lobbying by the Suffolk silents Society, the local council granted the film a 12A certificate. See more »

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User Reviews

Progressive Moralizing
27 August 2003 | by (Philadelphia, PA) – See all my reviews

Viewed in context, Lois Weber's Hypocrites is an illuminating period piece. It opens a window onto not only the author's moral concerns, but the larger context of "progressive" reform that influenced much of early twentieth-century America, resulting most notably in anti-trust and child labor legislation, Prohibition, and women's suffrage. Shockingly depicting "truth" incarnate via a diaphanously-filtered-but-fully-naked actress, Weber turns the filmic mirror on political graft, economic materialism, twisted gender dynamics, and, of course, demonic dancing and beach-and-party-going. She not only critiques "secular" decadence, however, but spares neither mainstream Protestants nor Roman Catholics from her judgments. Somewhat unclear is Weber's own remedy for hypocrisy. Both medieval and modern ascetics wind up dead in the film, which suggests that she held little hope for males to lead women to the promised land--wherever it might be. Perhaps, then, this first-wave feminist filmmaker hoped that her critique alone would motivate viewers (and especially women) to take political action on behalf of justice. If this appears to us a naive, and perhaps even sectarian, faith, in its context it had significant power. As an antecedent of Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry (for which he received the first Nobel Prize in Literature ever awarded an American), Weber's Hypocrites deserves attention as an important piece of evidence in the history of progressive moralizing, and more broadly in American cultural production


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