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Where Are My Children? (1916)

Approved | | Drama | May 1916 (USA)
A District Attorney's outspoken stand on abortion gets him in trouble with the local community.

Directors:

Phillips Smalley (uncredited), Lois Weber (uncredited)

Writers:

Lucy Payton (from the story by) (as L. Payton), Franklyn Hall (from the story by) (as F. Hall) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Tyrone Power Sr. ... District Attorney Richard Walton (as Mr. Tyrone Power)
Mrs. Tyrone Power Mrs. Tyrone Power ... Mrs. Richard Walton (as Helen Riaume)
Marie Walcamp ... Mrs. William Carlo
Cora Drew Cora Drew ... Walton's Housekeeper
Rena Rogers Rena Rogers ... Lillian - Housekeeper's Daughter
Alva D. Blake ... Roger - Mrs. Walton's Brother (as A.D. Blake)
Juan de la Cruz Juan de la Cruz ... Dr. Herman Malfit
C. Norman Hammond C. Norman Hammond ... Dr. William Homer
William J. Hope William J. Hope ... Richard's Brother-in-Law - a Eugenic Husband
Marjorie Blynn Marjorie Blynn ... Richard's Sister - a Eugenic Wife
William Haben William Haben ... Dr. Gilding
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Storyline

While prosecuting a physician for the death of a client after an abortion, the district attorney discovers that his wife helped her society friends and the daughter of her maid obtain and pay for abortions from the physician (and was perhaps herself also a client.) Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Illborn See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(alternate)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Color:

Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Universal's most successful release of 1916. See more »

Quotes

Title Card: Walton's sister had contracted an eugenic marriage and her first child was a source of great interest.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 2000, the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center copyrighted a preservation print reconstructed from several incomplete prints. Funded by the Women's Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film and Television, it was coordinated by Scott Simmon, has a piano score composed and performed by Martin Marks, and runs 62 minutes. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Universal Story (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

remarkable preachment
24 September 2015 | by kekseksaSee all my reviews

This film is most certainly not feminist but it was a courageous film to have made in 1910. Censorship already existed very strongly in the US and the idea that it only came in with the Hays Code in the thirties is a complete myth.

The film did have its imitators in the next year or so (a girl dies after an abortion in Enlighten thy Daughter 1917) and the subject would occasionally be raised rather obliquely in later films (The Road to Ruin 1928, 1934 and Ann Vickers 1933) or treated salaciously in exploitation films (Street Corner 1948) but it would not be until the 1960s that it would again become possible to treat such subjects seriously in US films (and even then it is primarily British rather than US films that come to mind). Plans to make a remake of Weber's film in 1936 had to be cancelled. As late as 1956, the revised Hays code insisted that "the subject of abortion shall be discouraged, shall never be more than suggested, and when referred to shall be condemned. It must never be treated lightly, or made the subject of comedy. Abortion shall never be shown explicitly or by inference, and a story must not indicate that an abortion has been performed, the word "abortion" shall not be used."

Weber's consideration of the question is entirely serious and all the aspects she considers, whatever one's opinion about voluntary miscarriage being legal of which there was not even the remotest possibility in 1916, remain entirely valid. Sometimes today the belief that women should have choice in these matters becomes confused with a vague idea that abortion is somehow completely problem-free, which it most certainly is not.

And Weber is entirely to be commended for taking up so strongly the case for birth control (an equally taboo subject)and against the 1873 Comstock Law that prevented discussion of it. This was also the subject of an unofficial sequel to this film (lost) called The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, in which she herself acted (and is the one arrested for promoting birth control). The film was, however, rather overshadowed by the appearance of Margaret Sanger's own film Birth Control even though the latter was effectively banned by the censors.

The film played to packed houses in sophisticated urban centres and won much critical praise because of its evident earnestness and religious iconography (one southern US newspaper described it as "one of the most remarkable preachments yet filmed") but it did also attract adverse criticism but it had to be shown in different (cut) versions in different parts of the country, and was particularly badly butchered (although not banned as is sometimes claimed) in Weber's home-state of Pennsylvania.

There are also some signs of a backlash. Photoplay later claimed that the films had spawned "a filthy host of nasty-minded imitators" and in 1917 when Essanay brought out a filmed called "Where is My Mother?" (evidently adapting the title of Weber's film) in its "Do the Children Count?" series, a particularly prissy reviewer in Moving Picture World praised it precisely because it avoided "distasteful reference to birth control and sex problems".


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