Toil and Tyranny
R: Harry Harvey. B: Henry King, Will M. Ritchey. D: Henry King, Ruth Roland, Daniel Gilfether. P: Pathé/Balboa Amusement Producing Company. USA 1915
Twelfth and final episode in the “Who Pays?” series of three-reel dramas

“Unstinting in their condemnation of employer uses of violence against workers, these softer liberal films were equally critical and often quite patronizing toward working-class collectice action. Unions, strikes, and their leaders were not inherently bad, as was the case in conservative films. They were simply incapable of offering measured responses to their grievances. (…)
In Toil and Tyranny, peaceful workers (dressed in clean white shirts rather than the more sinister dark costumes used in conservative films) are transformed into a bloodthirsty mob when, after being attacked by police and evicted from company homes, they follow the violent exhortations of a man dressed in black. Once violence begins, the choreography of crowd scenes suddenly becomes similar to conservative films: workers are bunched together and when they speak they do so with arms widely flailing in the air. In none of these films, or others like them, do we ever see a leader emerge from within the working-class who is able to resolve the situation in a peaceful manner.”
Steven J. Ross: Working-class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America. Princeton University Press 1998, p. 75