PERILS OF THE NEW LAND: Films of the Immigrant Experience (1910-1915)

TRAFFIC IN SOULS (1913) and THE ITALIAN (1915) are riveting and important social dramas of the American silent screen. Released during the earliest years of feature-length film, when movies were more dedicated to advocacy and reform than to escapist entertainment, both depict new immigrants to America and the hazards that await them. Both films are honored with inclusion in The National Film Registry (which selects up to twenty-five “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films” each year).

In addition to the features, this two-Disc DVD set, produced by David Shepard from the Blackhawk Films library, presents three short theme-related bonus films from the pioneer Edison company: THE POLICE FORCE OF NEW YORK CITY (1910); THE CALL OF THE CITY (1912); and MCQUADE OF THE TRAFFIC SQUAD (1915).

According to legend, TRAFFIC IN SOULS was filmed surreptitiously at Universal Pictures with the producer (Jack Cohn) and director (George Loane Tucker) prepared to buy the picture in case the company wouldn’t release it. Exploiting a recent exposé of prostitution rings, this “white slavery” story proved a huge financial success. An underworld melodrama, TRAFFIC IN SOULS is a very accomplished work for its time, and makes excellent use of New York City locations. This edition is copied from the only known original nitrate print of the domestic release; there is an excellent piano score by Philip Carli and an illuminating optional scene-specific audio essay by Prof. Shelley Stamp.

THE ITALIAN, produced for Paramount Pictures by Thomas H. Ince and directed by Reginald Barker, stars George Beban, who was renowned for his ethnic characterizations. It is the story of Beppo, a gondolier who comes to America and settles in lower Manhattan, where he operates a shoeshine business and eventually saves enough money to import his fiancée. Crime and poverty soon impact their lives – and there is no artificial, happy ending. Conflated from three sources, our tinted edition is mostly copied from an original nitrate print, and has an optional scene-specific audio essay by Prof. Giorgio Bertellini. A compiled score of authentic photoplay music is performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra led by Rodney Sauer, who also provides the music for the three Edison shorts.

This Deluxe 2-Disc Set Features:

  • Three short theme-related bonus films from the pioneer Edison company. New music scores performed by Philip Carli (TRAFFIC IN SOULS) and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, led by Rodney Sauer (THE ITALIAN.)
  • Scene specific audio commentaries by Prof. Shelley Stamp (TRAFFIC IN SOULS) and Prof. Giorgio Bertellini (THE ITALIAN).


Format: DVD-NTSC / Region 0
(No Regional Code)


(US, 1915)

Director: Reginald Barker (uncredited)
Screenplay: Thomas H. Ince & C. Gardner Sullivan
Producer: Thomas H. Ince
Production Company: New York Motion Picture Corp.
Cast: George Beban, Clara Williams, Fanny Midgley, Leo Willis & J. Frank Burke

• 74 minutes
• B&W, Tinted


(US, 1913)

Director: George Loane Tucker
Screenplay: Walter MacNamara & George Loane Tucker
Cinematography: Henry Alder Leach
Producer: Walter McNamara & Jack Cohn (uncredited)
Production Company: Independent Moving Pictures Co. of America
Cast: Ethel Grandin, Matt Moore, Jane Gail, William Cavanaugh & William Welsh

• 88 minutes
• B&W


 Bonus Material

(US, 1910)

Producer: Edison Manufacturing Corp.

• 9 minutes
• B&W

(US, 1915)

Director: Eugene Nowland
Producer: Edison Company

• 16 minutes
• B&W, Tinted


Director: Harry Beaumont
Screenplay: Mark Swan
Producer: Edison Company

• 12 minutes
• B&W


Total Running Time: 03:17:52 (2 Discs)

Language: Silent with English intertitles

Musical Score: Performed by Philip Carli and Rodney Sauer & The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Published By: Flicker Alley

Institutional Price: $300 (plus shipping)

To order call: 212.280.8654 or click here for information on ordering by fax, e-mail or post.