Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Where Are My Children was one of twelve 1916 films co-directed by the husband-and-wife team of Phillips Smalley and Lois Weber. Another of the team's "message" pictures, this one tackled the touchy subject of Birth Control. Set in an unnamed Big City, the story focuses on a district attorney, who loves children, and his socialite wife, who does not. Upon graduating from college, the wife's brother moves in with the couple. Smitten by the brother, the couple's maidservant enters into an affair with the boy, the result being an unwanted pregnancy. Offering to help out, the wife arranges for an illegal abortion. Unfortunately, something goes wrong, and the maid dies. The D.A. husband arrests the doctor and sentences him to 15 years in prison -- then makes the startling discovery that among the doctor's clients was his own wife. Investigating further, the D.A. learns that he has never become a father because of his wife's multiple abortions, and that all of his wife's friends have been similarly "serviced" by the doctor. The film ends with a haunting double-exposure sequence, as the repentant wife and her grieving friends conjure up visions of the babies whose lives they have snuffed out because of their own selfishness. Though Where Are My Children may seem naively reactionary in these more enlightened times, the film was undeniably strong and powerful stuff in its day.
High Historical Importance