4 user

The Black Stork (1917)

A young man and woman are considering marriage; eugenicist Harry J Haiselden warns that they are ill-matched and will produce defective offspring. He is right; their baby is born defective,... See full summary »




Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Credited cast:
Miriam Fontaine
Allan Murnane ...
Tom Watson
Hamilton Revelle ...
Claude Leffingwell
Elsie Esmond ...
Anne Schultz
Henry Bergman ...
The Detective
John Miltern ...
(as John T. Miltern)
Edgar L. Davenport
George Moss
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elsie Baker
Harry J. Haiselden ...
Dr. Dickey (as Dr. Harry J. Haiselden)
Bessie Wharton ...
(as Bessie Emerick)
Frances White


A young man and woman are considering marriage; eugenicist Harry J Haiselden warns that they are ill-matched and will produce defective offspring. He is right; their baby is born defective, dies quickly and floats into heaven. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Kill defectives, save the nation and see 'The Black Stork'.







Release Date:

February 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Are You Fit to Marry?  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in Homo Sapiens 1900 (1998) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The Black Stork, a paean to forced euthanasia
1 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

The Black Stork. Written by Jack Lait, a reporter on the Chicago American, was produced in Hollywood and given a massive national distribution and promotion campaign. Haiselden played himself in a fictionalized account of a eugenically mismatched couple whom he advises not to have children because they are likely to be defective. Eventually, the woman does give birth to a defective child, whom she then allows to die. The dead child levitates into the waiting arms of Jesus Christ. It was unbridled cinematic propaganda for the eugenics movement; the film played at movie theaters around the country for more than a decade. National publicity advertised it as a "eugenic love story". One advertisement quoted Swiss eugenicist Auguste Forel's warning: "The law of heredity winds like a red thread through the family history of every criminal, of every epileptic, eccentric and insane person. Shall we sit still ... without applying the remedy?" In 1917, a display advertisement for The Black Stork read: "Kill Defectives, Save the Nation and See 'The Black Stork'." Dr. Haiselden came to the national attention by going before an inquest called when his letting a baby die by starvation became news. An inquest was convened a few days later. Haiselden defiantly declared, "I should have been guilty of a graver crime if I had saved this child's life. My crime would have been keeping in existence one of nature's cruelest blunders." A juror shot back, "What do you mean by that?" Haiselden responded, "Exactly that. I do not think this child would have grown up to be a mental defective. I know it." After tempestuous proceedings, the inquest ruled: "We believe that a prompt operation would have prolonged and perhaps saved the life of the child. We find no evidence from the physical defects that the child would have become mentally or morally defective." But they also decided that Haiselden was within his professional rights to decline treatment. No law compelled him to operate on the child. He was released unpunished, and efforts by the Illinois attorney general to indict him for murder were blocked by the local prosecutor. The doctor considered his legal vindication a powerful victory for eugenics. "Eugenics? Of course it's eugenics," he told one reporter.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 4 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page