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The Yellow Passport (1916)

The Yellow Passport (1916) World Film Corp; A Schubert Production. Distributor: World Film Corporation. Director: Edwin August. Scenario: Frances Marion and Edwin August. Story: Abraham S. Shoemer. Camera: Philip Hatkin. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, Edwin August, John Sainpolis, Alec B. Francis, John Boyle, Mrs. Landau, Edward Kimball, Mrs. Kimball, Thomas Charles, Florence Hackett, Silas Feinberg, Robert Cummings, Nicholas Dunaew, Adolph Lestina. 5 reels. This film is apparently LOST

Young's real-life parents play her parents in the film. It was re-released in 1917 under the title of The Badge of Shame.

There is a still photo from this film of Young and actor and director Edwin August on Don McDaniel's Edwin August website. still from The Yellow Passport
Click on thumbnail for larger view

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, February 4, 1916

The Yellow Passport
Sonia Sokoloff Clara Kimball Young
Fedia, a police spy John Sainpolis
Myran Abram, Sonia's uncle Alec B. Francis
Carl Rosenheimer, an Impressario John Boyle
Mrs. Rosenheimer, his wife Mrs. Landeau
Adolph Rosenheimer, their son Edwin August
Anna Sokoloff, Sonia's mother Mrs. Kimball
David Sokoloff, Sonia's father Ed. Kimball
Alex Sokoloff, Sonia's brother Silan Feinbert
Akulena, Fiodor's wife Florence Hackeett
Fiodor, a landlord Thomas Charles
Ivan, of the "Black Hundred" Robert Cummings
Music Master Nicholas Dunaew
Chief of Police Adolph Lestina

Five part Schubert (World) production directed by Edwin August, starring Clara Kimball Young. Probably the most pretentious production yet undertaken by the World, and in many respects an excellent one. It is a question, however, whether exhibitors catering to the "Family trade" will take kindly to the showing in their houses of a story that requires the elucidation of the Russian yellow passport granted to immoral women. It's a powerful tale, violent melodrama, dealing with Nihilism, Russian secret police, persecution, and massacre of the poor Jews (all magnificently visualized and effectively acted) and showing the triumph of virtue against terrific odds. Apparently no expense has been spared in its casting or the securing of atmosphere and costuming.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

February 19, 1916

"The Yellow Passport"
Clara Kimball Young plays Russian Jewess in Schubert-World Film Production of Good Dramatic Quality
Reviewed by Lynde Denig.

Evidently intent upon giving Clara Kimball Young a vehicle in which she might duplicate the success scored in "Hearts in Exile," the World Film selected another photoplay concerned with Russian life in its most brutal aspects. In dealing with persecutions in Russia it recalls the earlier work; but is even more unmistakably reminiscent of "The Yellow Ticket," the sensational stage melodrama that gave the hitherto uniformed American public a knowledge of the Russian government's method of dealing with unfortunate women. The similarity is not in detail, rather in the use of the official license as the basis of the plot, Probably this is the first photoplay to introduce this particular phase of the social evil, and obviously it is rife with opportunities for dramatic situations.

[Photo omitted: Clara Kimball Young on the floor with someone looking at her.]

Playing Sonia, a beautiful Jewess whose family, barring a devote uncle, is slaughtered in a massacre at Kiev, Miss Young has a character allowing no end of opportunity for emotional predicament, owing to the amorous attentions of Fedia, a police spy, and afterwards, when she must leave Kiev, or remain under the sanction of a yellow passport, her difficulties become appalling. The chief weakness of the plot at this point is the failure to give a convincing reason for Sonia's determination to remain in Kiev under such frightful conditions. Her wish to continue a musical education is hardly sufficient, for competent instructors might be found elsewhere.

At all events, the girl and her uncle, following especially harrowing experiences that need not be described, sail for America and on the boat she meets a producer of opera and his son. Fame, love and the punishment of the perfidious Fedia, all come in good season.

Director Edwin August put plenty of spirit into scenes such as the massacre of the Jews, and with a few exceptions, the players supporting Miss Young give convincing performances. John Sainpolis was a good type for the police spy, although he rather overworked a sardonic smile. "The Yellow Passport" is not without defects but they are more than balanced by merits of a popular nature.

March 25, 1915

"The Yellow Passport"
(Schubert--Five Parts--Feb. 7)--The cast: Sonia Sokoloff (Clara Kimball Young); Fedia (John Sainpolis); Myron Abrakm (Alec B. Francis); Carl Rosenheimer (John Boyle); Mrs. Rosenheimer (Mrs. Landau); Adolph Rosenheimer (Edwin August); Anna Sokoloff (Mrs. Kimball); David Sokoloff (Ed. Kimball); Alex Sokoloff (Silas Feinberg); Akulena, Fiodor's wife (Florence Hackett); Fiodor, a landlord (Thomas Charles); Ivan (Robert Cummings); Music Master (Nicholas Dunaew) ; Chief of Police (Adolph Lestina). Director, Edwin August.

Sonia Sokoloff, the daughter of a well-to-do Jewish family in Kiev, is ambitious to become a grand opera singer. Fedia, a Russian police spy, is employed by the Sokoloff's as a valet. Fedia desires Sonia and when she is alone he attacks her. She escapes from him but in order not to alarm her parents, discharges Fedia and tells them nothing of her experience. Fedia swears allegiance to the notorious Black Hundred, a mob organized to destroy the Jews.

Fedia incites Ivan, a leader of the Black Hundreds, to a terrible massacre. The Sokoloffs are all killed except Sonia and her uncle, Myron. Fedia during the massacre, steals into the house in search of Sonia. Ivan returning for loot, hears Sonia's cries for help. Seeing her beauty, he and Fedia fight for possession of her. Ivan is killed and Sonia's escapes.

Weeks later Sonia, no longer considered a citizen, is ordered to leave Russia. Loath to be torn from the graves of her family and give up her music lessons, Sonia, in spite of her uncle Myron's protests, registers with the police as a public woman and take out a yellow passport. (Only Jewish women with yellow passports are allowed to remain outside the Pale, which is the Jewish settlement).

Suspecting that Sonia is a moral woman living under false pretenses, the police master finds out that she has paid the landlords and neighborhood police for protection. Fedia, now a police inspector, is sent to spy upon her. Sonia and her uncle Myron trick the police, but fearing that Fedia will annoy her again, they leave for America.

On the ship are Carl Rosenheimer, an impressario, and his son, Adolphe. They hear of the Russian Nightingale among the steerage passengers and interview her. During the voyage Adolph and Sonia fall in love. Reaching Ellis Island, Sonia and her uncle Myron once more trick he officials concealing from them all knowledge of the yellow passport and making it possible for Sonia to be admitted.

In America Sonia becomes a famous opera singer and is formally engaged to Adolph. Fedia is sent by the Russian government to this country. At the height of her success and happiness, Fedia appears on the scene and discloses to the Rosenheimers the history of Sonia's yellow passport.

The proofs of her innocence, the letters written by her to the Police Master, were left in Russia when she and her uncle Myron fled to America. Akulena and Fiodor, expelled from Russia, come to America carrying with them these letters, in hopes of finding Sonia; Adolph regrets his denouncement of Sonia even before the proofs of her innocence are produced.

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Last revised October 14, 2005