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The Temple of Moloch (1914)

The Temple of Moloch


13:19 minutes

Drama / Silent

Directed by Langdon West

Produced by The Edison Company


Gayne Whitman as Dr. Jordan  
Warren Cook as Harrison Pratt 
Bessie Learn as Eloise 
Yale Boss as Alfred Pratt 
Carlton S. King as Eric Swanson

From Journal of the Outdoor Life By National Tuberculosis Association February 1914:

The plot of this year's picture, "The Temple of Moloch," is laid in a small village, the chief industries of which are some potteries, owned by Harrison Pratt. He also owns a group of dilapidated tenements, in which most of his employees live. Dr. Jordan, health officer of the village, is struck with the prevalence of tuberculosis, and on investigation finds that the unsanitary working conditions in the Pratt potteries, together with the unhealthy state of the tenement homes of the workmen, have most to do with the spread of the disease. He calls the matter to the attention of Pratt, who rebuffs him and tells him it is no use to try to do anything in the matter.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jordan has fallen in love with Eloise, the daughter of Harrison Pratt, and she has become interested in his work, particularly that at the preventorium for children from tuberculous families. Three times Jordan appeals to Pratt, and each time he is rebuffed. Finally, in despair between his love for Eloise and his duty, he exposes the conditions he has discovered through articles in the newspapers, in which he calls the Pratt potteries and tenements a modern "Temple of Moloch," in that they feed young children to the God of Greed. When Eloise, who is ignorant of conditions in the factory, sees the paper she immediately resents what she considers an insult to her father, and returns her engagement ring to Dr. Jordan.

A week later Pratt's daughter and son are found to have tuberculosis. When Eric Swanson, a former employee of Pratt's, who had been discharged because he had contracted "potter's rot" in the mills and was no longer able to work, hears of it, he exults over the calamity, which he views as a sort of personal vengeance. He musters all of his strength and steals away to the Pratt home, where Eloise and her brother are taking the cure for tuberculosis on the porch, and there denounces Pratt, gloating over him and telling him that his son and daughter were originally infected as young children by Cora Swanson, when she served as nurse-girl for the Pratts several years ago. So struck is Pratt by this denunciation and the graphic story of Swan- son, which is affirmed by Dr. Jordan, that he decides to clean up conditions in his potteries and tenements at once.

The story ends with a Christmas scene, in which the engagement ring is returned to the hand of Eloise. and Dr. Jordan receives as a present a liberal check for the employment of visiting nurses, the establishment of open air schools and other anti-tuberculosis agencies in the town.

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