TRAFFIC IN SOULS
1913, Universal, 88 min, USA, Dir: George Loane Tucker

Released more than a year before full-length films became the norm, this 6-reel crime drama about forced prostitution (“white slavery”) stars Jane Gail, Ethel Grandin and Matt Moore. A blockbuster hit and the top-grossing American film of 1913, it was also the first Universal feature, and its success was responsible for turning Universal into a major studio. Structured as a suspenseful police procedural with a touch of romance, TRAFFIC IN SOULS was based on a story drawn from newspaper headlines by its director, George Loane Tucker, at a time when America was undergoing a national social crisis over the issue of prostitution. In addition to its daring subject matter and ahead-of-its time narrative style, TRAFFIC includes fascinating footage filmed “guerrilla style” on location on the streets of Manhattan and at Ellis Island. In 2006, the film was added to the National Film Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress because it "presaged the Hollywood narrative film" and for its depiction of the ways immigrants and other young women were trapped into prostitution.


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