Distributed by Milestone Films & Video, PO Box 128, Harrington Park, NJ 07640-0128; 800-603-1104
Produced by Milestone Film & Video
Directed by Lois Weber
DVD, color, 88 min.
Drama, Family, Film Novelizations, Poverty, Sociology, Women’s History
Date Entered: 03/14/2018Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
In 1916, Lois Weber, one of the first and few female movie directors in Hollywood, recorded the story of Eva Mayer, a young shop girl fallen on hard times. Based on a short story by Stella Wynne Herron published in Collier’s magazine, Weber’s silent film is a study in urban poverty and its consequences, especially for women. In Weber’s adaptation, Eva works in a five and dime store, selling goods that she cannot herself afford. As the only wage earner in her family of six, there is not enough money for rent and food, let alone the new pair of shoes Eva needs to replace her tattered ones. With no options, Eva trades her virtue for foot covering. Although filmed more than 100 years ago, both the larger social issues addressed and many of the cinematic techniques used to tell Eva’s story remain relevant. An audio commentary by early film studies scholar, Shelley Stamp, provides an informative background to the both film and its topic.
Originally filmed on nitrate stock, this version is a combination of a Dutch restoration of the 1916 original, a 1932 reissue, and 16mm microfilm of the script and title cards. The visual quality of the film, despite the different versions and age of the film, is quite good. A new musical score further complements the work.
Additional bonus features include information about the film’s restoration, the 1932 “comedic” version titled Unshod Maiden, an audio interview with actor Mary MacLaren, and recent commentaries by Rutgers University film studies professor Richard Koszarski. Recommended for film and women’s studies programs.