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Hypocrites (1915 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Directed byElliot Reivers
Lois Weber (uncredited)[1]
Written byLois Weber
Produced byLois Weber
Phillips Smalley
CinematographyDal Clawson
George W. Hill
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • January 20, 1915 (1915-01-20) (NYC)
Running time
49 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$119,000 (U.S.)[2]

Hypocrites, also known as The Hypocrites and The Naked Truth, is a 1915 silent drama film written and directed by Lois Weber (1879–1939). The film contains several full nude scenes, and is said to include the first appearance of full frontal nudity in a non-pornographic film by an American actress (Margaret Edwards).[3] The film is regarded as anticlerical, and the nudity was justified by its religious context.[citation needed]


The film follows the parallel stories of an early Christian ascetic and a modern minister, with most actors in dual roles. Gabriel (Courteney Foote) is a medieval monk who devotes himself to completing a statue of “Truth,” only to be murdered by a mob when his work turns out to be an image of a naked woman. The contemporary Gabriel is the pastor of a large wealthy urban congregation for whom religion is a matter of appearances, not beliefs. The hypocrisy of the congregation is exposed by a series of vignettes in which the Naked Truth, literally portrayed by a nude Margaret Edwards, reveals their appetites for money, sex and power.


Margaret Edwards (right) as "Naked Truth" in Hypocrites
Margaret Edwards (right) as "Naked Truth" in Hypocrites

Cast notes:

  • Margaret Edwards was 17 years old when she was discovered by Lois Weber.[1]


Writer-director Lois Weber attributed Adolphe Faugeron's painting La Vérité, or The Truth as the inspiration for the film. During shooting, production had to be moved three times, due to the lack of a permanent studio.[1]

Edwards' scenes, in which she appeared nude, were shot on a closed set, with only Weber, who directed the scenes, Edwards and a cameraman.[1]

Dal Clawson devised special photographic techniques for the film, which was shot by George W. Hill. Sometimes six exposures were involved.[1] Hypocrites was widely admired at the time for its extraordinary use of multiple exposures and intricate editing, and propelled Weber to the front ranks of silent directors.[5] The use in the film of traveling double exposure sequences of the woman is considered impressive for 1915.

It is thought that Weber may have re-edited the film after early review were published, before its official opening on January 20, 1915 at the Longacre Theater in New York City.[1]


Hypocrites was a shocking and controversial film whose release was held up for many months by the difficulty of distributing a film with full nudity. Weber’s sincerity and reputation allowed her to use something that in the hands of a male director would have been considered scandalous and immoral.[5] The film was passed by the British Board of Film Censors. However, because of the full and recurring nudity through the film, it caused riots in New York City, was banned in Ohio, and was subject to censorship in Boston when the mayor demanded that the film negatives be painted over to clothe the woman.[6]

The film was re-issued in 1916.[1]

Most of the film has survived, though some scenes have suffered from some serious nitrate decomposition in places especially at the beginning and cannot be restored. A print of the film is kept in the Library of Congress.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Hypocrites at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ a b Mahar 2008, p.96
  3. ^ Mahar 2008, pp.93-94
  4. ^ "At the Movies". The Mirror of Australia (Sydney, NSW : 1915 - 1917). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. November 20, 1915. p. 18. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Kino International". Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Lindsay, Kitty (November 6, 2014) "Forgotten Women of Film History: Lois Weber" Ms.


External links

This page was last edited on 26 July 2021, at 03:16
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