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The Ex-Convict (1904)

A recently released prisoner struggles to support his family.


Edwin S. Porter


Robert Hilliard (play), Edwin Holland (play)

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A former convict, now released from prison, is determined to support his wife and child. But with no references, and a past that can be used against him, he has little success in finding work. Even amidst his discouragement, on one occasion he bravely saves a young girl from being run over. But when his luck continues to be bad, he gradually becomes desperate, and he begins to wonder if he may need to return to his old ways after all. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Short


Not Rated






Release Date:

December 1904 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O proin katadikos See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Solid Enough For Its Time & Genre
18 February 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

There's enough material in this story about "The Ex-Convict" to fill a full-length feature, so as a one-reeler it is quite packed with story developments. Although the quick pace slightly dilutes its impact, for its era and genre it is a solid effort.

The story would most likely have been quite topical in its day, and it is not at all without relevance now. It focuses on a former convict who is earnest and sincere in his desires to reform and to support his family, yet who faces one obstacle after another. The injustices that he encounters because of his past seem believable, and although some of the later story developments are rather coincidence-dependent, they help in making the point. The plot is also well within the understood conventions of its time.

Although many of the movies from 1900-1905 concentrate strictly on just one or two story developments, there are a fair number of features, like this one, that are more ambitious. It's rather interesting that in so many cases, even an involved plot like this was filmed as a one-reeler, when it might have been even more effective at greater length. To some degree at least, it was still just a convention that movies were so much shorter than stage productions - but after all, in every era there are conventions that are accepted, to a large extent, just because everyone else follows them.

All that aside, this is a solid enough film for 1904, and it may well have served a useful purpose in dramatizing a social problem that is by no means limited to its own era.

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