Shanghai'et!

By 1912, the internationally popular “white slave” genre-in which an innocent girl is abducted into a life of prostitution-had nearly exhausted itself. The Danish Nordisk Films Kompagni tried to revive the genre with a number of spin-offs including Captured by Mormons and the gender-reversed Shanghai'et!, advertised as a clarion call against a danger that “has wrecked the lives of thousands of honest youths”: “Men as Victims of Slave Trafficking.” In this film, Willy, a naive young sailor, is drugged and abducted, leaving his fiancée Lilly to don menswear and rescue him, with the help of an athletic young barmaid. The girls' misadventures presage the plucky “serial queens” of the 1920s, while rewriting the damsel-in-distress narrative of the “white slave” films. In the movie's final embrace, it's not clear whether the lethargic Willy or the barmaid is a better match for Lilly.

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