Directed by Lois Weber • 1916 • United States
Starring Mary MacLaren, Harry Griffith, Mattie Witting
Decades before the artistic triumph of neorealism and the cultural revolution of the feminist movement, director Lois Weber expressed the seeds of both in what is perhaps her greatest work: an almost documentary-like look at the everyday struggles of an ordinary young woman. Eva Meyer (sixteen-year-old Mary MacLaren, in a revelatory performance) is a poor shop girl working at a five-and-dime. 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 resorts to desperate measures.