A young working girl must support her family on only five dollars (~ $120 in 2020) a week. The strain of trying to feed, house and clothe her mother, her father and three sisters finally gets to be too much, and she winds up selling her body for a pair of shoes.Written by
A young woman living with her family and just barely getting by desperately needs a new pair of shoes, because hers are literally falling apart. It's a pretty simple story, but director Lois Weber really shows us the hardship of the woman's position, preyed on by a man who's willing to give her money for sex, and taken advantage of by her own father, who lays on his ass while she's out working. It has the perspective of the working poor at a time when the wealth gap was quite large in America (similar to today), as well as a woman's perspective, living in a male dominated world. For those things it's a pretty special thing to see out of a film from 1916, and Weber adds a few nice touches, such as a scene of her dreaming and an ominous hand labeled Poverty reaching out ominously over Mary MacLaren's character. The fact that she has to hide what she's done from her father who would kill her is a cruel irony, and I loved how Weber shows us non-judgmental empathy - the thing is done, it was done out of necessity, and life goes on, instead of the woman suffering a fate worse than death, as in so many other stories from this period.
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