The Hypocrites (1915 film)

Hypocrites, also known as The Hypocrites, is a 1915 silent drama film written and directed by Lois Weber (1879–1939).

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

The film contained several full nude scenes. The film is regarded as anticlerical, and the nudity was justified by its religious context.


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.



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.[3] 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.

Hypocrites and the technique 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.[3] The use in the film of traveling double exposure sequences of the woman is considered impressive for 1915.

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. Mahar, Karen Ward (2008). Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8018-9084-0.
  2. "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.
  3. "Kino International". Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
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