Sex Trafficking in Marseilles

Human trafficking is recognized as a form of modern day slavery today but it has been around for decades. In the early 20th century the white slave trade in Europe became a major crime phenomenon in which hundreds of young women went missing only to end up enslaved in prostitution rings. This criminal activity provided the basis for countless melodramas and sexploitation films but one of the most entertaining and accomplished efforts is the French feature Des Femmes Disparaissent (1959), which was released in the U.S. in 1962 as Road to Shame. Women Disappear is a more accurate translation for the original title but the movie is a tautly directed thriller which has the look of a vintage noir with moody black and white cinematography by Robert Juillard (Forbidden Games, Gervaise).

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Rites of Manhood

The cover of the souvenir program to the 1926 MGM film TELL IT TO THE MARINES.

Most classic movie fans know that silent film star Lon Chaney was often associated with Tod Browning, who directed him in ten movies starting with The Wicked Darling (1919) and ending with Where East is East (1929). Among their most famous collaborations are the silent version of The Unholy Three (1925), The Unknown (1927) and London After Midnight (1927), which is now considered a lost film. Yet, two of Chaney’s most legendary roles were helmed by different directors. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) was directed by Wallace Worsley and The Phantom of the Opera (1925) is credited to Rupert Julian; both films helped establish Chaney’s reputation for playing monstruous and tortured characters. What tends to be overlooked in his filmography is the fact that Chaney wasn’t always typecast as some kind of grotesque individual and Tell It to the Marines (1926), one of his biggest box-office hits for M-G-M, presents him as a gruff but patriotic Marine sergeant in a stirring romantic drama by director George W. Hill.

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