Shoes (by Lois Weber)
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Eva Meyer is poor shop girl working at a five-and-dime. She is the sole wage earner for three younger sisters, a mother who struggles to hold everything together, and a father who prefers beer and penny dreadfuls to work. Each week, Eva returns to her cold-water flat and dutifully hands over her meager earnings to her mother. But her wages barely cover the grocer’s bill and cannot provide for decent clothing. With only cardboard to patch the holes in the soles of her shoes, Eva’s life becomes harder with each rainy day and every splinter. In constant pain and with no solution in sight, the disheartened girl considers the uninvited advances of Charlie, a cad with clearly dishonorable intentions.
So begins Lois Weber's SHOES, perhaps her finest masterpiece and one of the great feminist films in the history of cinema.
Whenever the press reports on the current dearth of women directors, there is mention made of Lois Weber, the most successful female filmmaker of her time and a major influence on silent cinema. She directed and wrote many groundbreaking films — dramas that combined social and political critiques with moving personal narratives — but because her finest films have long been unavailable and others have been poorly presented, Weber’s reputation has always quickly retreated back into the dustbin of history.
Together, with the recent publication of Shelley Stamp’s Lois Weber in Early Hollywood (University of California Press), Milestone is working to reinstall Weber into the pantheon of great filmmakers. Thanks to the incredible restoration work of the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, Milestone celebrates the film's 100th anniversary with a release that will be an important addition to every women's studies and every film history course.
Weber adapted her script for Shoes closely from a short story by Stella Wynne Herron published in the January 1, 1916 issue of Collier’s. Herron’s inspiration for her story came from social reformer Jane Addams’s 1912 book on prostitution A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil, which Herron quoted in her epigraph: “When the shoes became too worn to endure a third soling and she possessed but 90 cents toward a new pair, she gave up the struggle; to use her own contemptuous phrase, she ‘sold out for a new pair of shoes.’”
Weber weaves a beautifully simple story with a technique much celebrated in post-WWII Italy as neorealism. Shooting exteriors around Los Angeles — including a remarkable scene in Pershing Square and the actual front of Woolworth’s on Broadway — and meticulously recreating a Five and Dime Store interior, Weber created a documentary feel of a young woman's life unmatched by any film of the era. The director’s brand-new discovery, sixteen-year-old Mary MacLaren (resembling a young Jennifer Lawrence) is the embodiment of youthful innocence and too-early world-weariness. Much like the 1912 English play “Hindle Wakes,” Shoes is a plea for women’s equality (women’s suffrage was still a hard-fought political goal in both countries), but where one celebrated a woman’s right to sexual freedom, Weber’s film portrays the reality and tragedy of a shop girl in modern society.
The Shoes restoration by the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam combined a Dutch nitrate print and a 1930s American “comedic” reissue of the film called Unshod Maiden found at the Library of Congress. Thanks to the 2016 discovery of the original script and intertitles in the 16mm microfilm files at NBC/Universal, the Milestone edition more closely reflects the original film. Prominent musicians and composers Donald Sosin and Mimi Rabson have created a mesmerizing and incredibly moving score to accompany Shoes.
Blu-rays and DVDs of Shoes include:
- A commentary track by Lois Weber expert Shelley Stamp
- Unshod Maiden, 1932 spoof of Shoes
- Richard Koszarski’s 1971 audio interview with Mary MacLaren
- EYE Filmmuseum's before-and-after video and original Dutch intro to Shoes
- 1911 short film The Price, directed by and starring Weber and Phillips Smalley (13 minutes).
An Explanation of Home, Classroom, and Public Performance Rights
Through our distribution partner, Kino Lorber, Milestone provides a variety of licensing to suit all needs. Our standard institutional licensing packages are designed to provide colleges, universities and qualified non-profits with the best value for multiple uses, and our one-time community screening licenses allow any organization to exhibit high-quality films for a reasonable fee. Please note that all licensing carries restrictions on audience numbers and/or geographic range.
STANDARD INSTITUTIONAL LICENSING
- CLASSROOM RIGHTS allow unlimited use in face-to-face classroom situations for the life of the media, restricted to a single campus or location. Please note that this license doesn't include public screenings or digital transmission of any kind.
- PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RIGHTS (PPR) allow educational and nonprofit groups to exhibit our films to groups of 100 or fewer individuals where admission is not charged. The term of the public performance license is for the life of the DVD. However, if you intend to charge admission, expect an audience over 100, or publicly advertise the screening, then we ask that you contact us regarding an exhibition fee. Films purchased without Public Performance Rights are restricted for individual viewing or face-to-face teaching in the classroom only.
- DIGITAL SITE LICENSES (DSL) allow colleges, universities and nonprofits to locally host and stream to their community on a closed, password-protected system for the life of the digital file.
- K-12 PPR comes with limited performance rights so films can be shown in classrooms, at PTA meetings, during after school programs, and transmitted on a closed-circuit system within a K-12 school building or on a single campus.
For all educational licenses and screenings, please Estelle Grosso, Director of Educational and Non-Theatrical Sales & Distribution at Kino Lorber (Milestone’s distribution partner) at: email@example.com.
The purchase of DVDs, DVD-Rs, and Blu-rays at the institutional rate by anyone outside of a North American non-profit educational institution does not grant rights for public performance or streaming.
Any continuous or loop screenings as part of a museum exhibition must also be licensed separately. Inquiries must be negotiated directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information for Exhibitors Screening DCPs and Film Prints
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DCPs should be returned to:
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For public screenings, advertising materials can be requested by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milestone is the exclusive licensor for all the titles in this catalog, all of which are available from Milestone’s distribution partner Kino Lorber. in their complete versions.