Shoes (1916 film)

Shoes is a 1916 silent film drama directed by Lois Weber and starring Mary MacLaren. It was distributed by the Universal Film Manufacturing Company and produced by a subsidiary called Bluebird Photoplays.[1][2] Shoes was added to the National Film Registry in 2014.

Mary MacLaren in a scene of the film
Directed byLois Weber
Produced byBluebird Photoplays
Written byLois Weber (scenario)
Based onstory, Shoes, by Stella Wynne Herron, from a novel by Jane Addams
StarringMary MacLaren
CinematographyStephen S. Norton
King Gray
Al Siegler
Distributed byUniversal Film Manufacturing Company
Release date
June 26, 1916
Running time
60 minutes
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

The film was held and restored by the EYE Film Institute Netherlands between 2008-2011.[3] It is available on DVD[4] and Blu-ray[4] with a score by Donald Sosin and Mimi Rabson and audio commentary from film historian Shelley Stamp.

Background and release

Stella Wynne Herron published her short story "Shoes" in Collier's magazine as part of its January 1st, 1916 issue.[5] (Hal J. Mowat provided illustrations.) The story follows a shop girl named Eva Mayers as she fights against poverty, captured in her struggle to simply buy a new pair of shoes. The story takes inspiration from Jane Addams's nonfiction book on prostitution 'A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil', which Herron quotes for her epigraph:

“When the shoes became too worn to endure a third soling and she possessed but 90 cents toward a new pair, she gave up the struggle; to use her own contemptuous phrase, she ‘sold out for a new pair of shoes.’”

Weber adapted the story herself, and she did so closely, with "dialogue from the story occasionally appearing verbatim in the film’s intertitles."[6] The film came out on June 26th, 1916 to critical and public acclaim, becoming Universal's most-booked Bluebird production that year.[6]


  • Mary MacLaren - Eva Meyer
  • Harry Griffith - Her Father
  • Mattie Witting - Her Mother (*as Mrs. A.E. Witting)
  • Jessie Arnold - Lil
  • William V. Mong - 'Cabaret' Charlie



Eva Meyer (Mary MacLaren) works in a dime store for a few dollars a week, but must solely support her family of two parents and three sisters because her father (Harry Griffith) prefers to lie in bed reading rather than looking for work. Eva desperately needs a new pair of shoes - her old ones are falling to pieces and she is reduced to cutting out and fitting cardboard soles every evening. Finally, with no other alternative, Eva sleeps with "Cabaret" Charlie (William V. Mong), a singer, in exchange for money. She buys new shoes, after which she learns that her father has found work.


  1. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:Shoes
  2. Shoes at
  3. The Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:Shoes
  4. "Milestone Films".
  5. Wynne Herron, Stella. "Shoes". Collier's. 56: 8–9, 25 via Internet Archive.
  6. Byrne, Rob. "Shoes". San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Further reading

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