Traffic in Souls (1913)

2007 #106
George Loane Tucker | 88 mins | VHS

Traffic in SoulsSilent movie (Universal’s first feature-length release) about white slavery in America. You don’t expect that from a 1913 film, eh?

Of course, the issue is handled in a suitable way for the period: why the women are kidnapped is never alluded to (in reality it was for prostitution) and all the Bad Men are brought to justice.

It’s not all bad: in a surprising move for the time, the main villain is an apparently-respectable society gentleman who publicly campaigns against white slavery; by a similar token, the kidnappers are made up of women as well as men.

The first half zips along an intricate multi-stranded narrative covering several groups of unrelated characters, but as they come together it begins to slow: what seems to be the climax takes half the film to play out its immediately-obvious events. It sadly ruins something that was initially rather promising.

2 out of 5

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