Handcuffs or Kisses? (1921)

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aka Handcuffs and Kisses The producers of this picture apparently got their inspiration from a magazine story about the mistreatment of girl inmates at New York's Bedford Reformatory. Elaine Hammerstein got stuck with the starring role, Lois Walton. Poor Lois is sent to the reformatory by her wicked stepmother (Julia Swayne Gordon), who wants her inheritance. She spends about three reels in the joint, being subjected to inhuman floggings and ice baths. When she finally gets out, she goes to work as a servant for a doctor. He makes a pass at her and threatens to send her back to the reformatory if she refuses him. She runs away and winds up in a gambling den. The woman proprietor tries to marry her off to a man she hates. Again Lois is threatened with the reformatory but finally she's saved by Peter Madison (Robert Ellis), a young lawyer who had met her while he was investigating the institute. He sweeps her off her feet and spirits her away from her sordid surroundings. This tawdry melodrama did not exactly enhance Miss Hammerstein's career.

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abuse, aunt, damsel-in-distress, evil, greed, inheritance, investigation, love, orphan, rampage, rebel, reform [improve], reformatory, romance, slavery