Lois Weber

Scen.: Lois Weber. F.: Allen Siegler. Int.: Harry De More (John Doe), Evelyn Selbie (Mrs Doe), Willis Marks (il fratello di Doe), Leah Baird (un’avvocatessa), George Berrell (un ricco contadino), Maud George (sua sorella), Charles Mailes (un detective), Robert Smith (un famoso avvocato). Prod.: Universal. Pri. pro.: 10 dicembre 1916 35mm. D.: 20’ ca. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

A commentator once suggested that We­ber was the only filmmaker who would dare tackle controversial subject matter and hope to make a commercially vi­able film. Released amidst the height of a national debate about the death pen­alty, The People vs. John Doe dramatizes the highly-publicized case of Charles Stielow, an uneducated farmhand facing execution for a murder many believed he did not commit. At the behest of the National Board of Censorship, all refer­ences to Stielow were eliminated and the title character’s name was changed to a pointed ‘John Doe’. Still, sure of its topical appeal, Universal rushed the film into theaters less than a week after Stielow’s death sentence was commuted, delaying the release of the studio’s highly-anticipated adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Anti-capital punishment activists seized upon the film to advocate their cause, speaking at screenings in New York and showing the film to legislators in Pennsylvania. Ac­cording to “Wid’s”, the film would “do more to make people think about capital punishment than all the pamphlets and speeches that could be prepared in a year’s time”. Only these three reels are known to survive.


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