A poor Russian girl's beauty leads her unscrupulous uncle to bring her to the United States. There he is going to sell her into a marriage with a rich old man she has never met. But her love... Read allA poor Russian girl's beauty leads her unscrupulous uncle to bring her to the United States. There he is going to sell her into a marriage with a rich old man she has never met. But her lover, an returning immigrant visiting Russia from the U.S., sails on the same ship. When they... Read allA poor Russian girl's beauty leads her unscrupulous uncle to bring her to the United States. There he is going to sell her into a marriage with a rich old man she has never met. But her lover, an returning immigrant visiting Russia from the U.S., sails on the same ship. When they arrive he learns, to his surprise, that the American police, unlike those of his native c... Read all
- (as A.D. Sears)
- (as Curt Rehfelt)
- (as William E. Lowery)
There were two principal ways in which immigrants could be supported. One was to show the genuiness of the predicament that led them to leave their own countries.Sympathy for East European immigrants was strong. Since the abortive revolutionary attempt in 1905, viewed generally sympathetically in the US and Western Europe, there had been many films critical of Tsarist Rusia and some specifically highlighting the persecution of the Jews.Even though the characters in this film as not Jewish, they are seen to be refugees (reluctant in the case of the aunt and uncle) from militaristic tyranny and an illiberal society. The scene where they take flight during a storm is one of the best in the film (with some fine cinematography by the relatively unknown William Fildew.
A second way of supporting immigrants was to show the success with which they adapted once in the US although it was quite common to see this as a learning process ('the making of an American") by which they needed to divest themselves of some of their ingrained bad habits (most typically mistreatment of women) in order to become worthy of the "land of liberty". So here we have the "bad" immigrants (the brothers Ivan and George and the avaricious Anna) and the good (the young hero and heroine).
This also allow Cabanne to produce a sneaky variant on the "white slavery" films which since the controversy over the subject in 1913 were now supposed to be taboo and would eventually be specifically excluded by the Hays Code. He even gets away with showing the collusive role of corrupt policemen which was an aspect of the subject about which the censors were particularly touchy. It is in fact in any ways one of the most realistic treatments of the subject to be found in a US film.
Since Uncle George is specifically described as the head of the Russian community, the message here would seem to be that such communitarian organisations amongst immigrants were an obstacle rather than an aid to their apprenticeship as good US citizens.In fact Los Angeles Russians wree a peculiar lot in this regard. Although the majority were Jewish, the majority of non-Jewish Russians belonged to a specific "Molokan" Christian sect. Gish, whose parents had been Mormons, although never to my knowledge openly critical of her mother's religion - the father had abandoned them - often favoured roles - and she was an actress who chose her roles - in films critical of any kind of religious particularism.
All in all, this is am interesting, complex and quite daring film that deserves to be much mor e widely known.
- May 20, 2018