Sunday, October 21, 1990

Webs of Evil

Traffic in Souls & Spies

San Francisco Art Institute

These two silent films depict illicit underground networks of activity engineered by brilliant sinister minds. Traffic In Souls (1913) is the first important American feature (pre-dating The Birth Of A Nation) and until recently was considered lost. Directed by George Loane Tucker in secret, Traffic… was based on the notorious Rockefeller Committee’s report on white slavery. Spies (Spione) (1928, original abridged version) continued Fritz Lang’s adventure-serial portraits of criminal geniuses begun with Dr. Mabuse (1922), but with a heightened level of psychological realism evoking paranoid fantasy.