Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1917)

Release Date - May 13, 1917 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Janiss Garza

Here, director Lois Weber -- with the help of her partner and husband, Phillips Smalley -- tackles one of her favorite subjects, birth control. This was quite a controversial subject during the 1910s, as proved by the trials and tribulations of birth control proponent Margaret Sanger; in fact, this picture takes quite a bit from Sanger's life story. Mrs. Broome (Weber) is under surveillance by the police because of her efforts to educate women about birth control. Eventually she is arrested, but through the connections of her doctor husband (Smalley), she is released. In a discussion with another couple, the Grahams (Priscilla Dean and Wedgewood Nowell), Mrs. Broome tells the story of a servant, Sarah (Evelyn Selbie), and her husband (Harry deMore) who had more children than they could support. Once again, while she is holding a meeting, Mrs. Broome is arrested. She stages a hunger strike, and again is pardoned. License Commissioner Bell entered an objection against this picture before its screening in New York, but Weber's studio, Universal, got an injunction from the Supreme Court and ran it anyway.