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Purity is a 1916 American silent drama film, directed by Rae Berger and starring Audrey Munson. The film's scenario was written by Clifford Howard and is notable for its nude scenes, which caused it to be banned and preached against in some towns.[1]

Purity (1916) - Ad Aug 26 1916 MPW.jpg
Ad for the film featured in the August 26, 1916 Moving Picture World
Directed byRae Berger
Written byClifford Howard (scenario)
StarringAudrey Munson
Distributed byMutual Film
Release date
  • July 23, 1916 (1916-07-23)
Running time
70 mins.
CountryUnited States
English intertitles

Purity was long presumed to be lost.[2][2][3] However, in 2004, a copy was rediscovered in France. A copy of the film is now preserved at the Centre national de la cinématographie in Paris.[1]



Purity (Munson), a simple country girl, comes to the city and is hired as an artist's model. A young poet becomes obsessed with her, and is distraught when he learns she has been posing nude. But his distress is diminished when he finds that she intends to use her income from modeling to publish his poetry.


Munson posing nude in a damaged still from the film.

Production notesEdit

Purity was produced by the American Film Company (known as the "Flying "A" Studios") based in Santa Barbara, California. The film was shot on the estate of Francis Townsend Underhill in Santa Barbara and was distributed by Mutual Film.[1][4][5]


Isolated newspaper advertisements of 1921 and 1922 describe another Munson film called Innocence. It was during a showing of Innocence combined with a personal on-stage appearance by Munson that caused her arrest in St. Louis on October 3, 1921 at the Royal Theater (later the Towne Theater) on an indecency charge.[6] Her manager was also arrested. Both were acquitted and were still appearing in St. Louis weeks later, enacting "a series of new poses from famous paintings".[7]

Innocence was also shown in Duluth, Minnesota in March 1922. Here too Munson was to appear personally at the New Grand to "present a number of poses", promised at every performance. The description of the film in a blurb in the Duluth Herald details that, "In one scene more than 150 girls dance in a woodland dell, garbed in flying diaphanous draperies. Miss Geneva Driscoll, formerly of the Ruth St. Denis troupe, trained them." [8]

That scenic description, and Geneva Driscoll's involvement, is entirely consistent with the production of Purity.[9] The idea that the film shown in 1921 as Innocence represents a repackaged version of 1916's Purity is also supported by the relationship between the publicist-and-journalist working for Purity's distributor Mutual Films, and Munson's independent manager for these later personal appearances. They were brothers. Credited as a columnist, Maxson F. Judell wrote promotional copy for local newspapers ("Audrey Munson... in The All-Together...")[10]. Maxson's brother Benjamin Judell[11] was Munson's manager arrested in St. Louis. In later years Ben Judell became the founder of the Hollywood poverty row studio Producers Releasing Corporation.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "SilentEra entry". June 12, 2009. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b (Thompson 1996, p. 36)
  3. ^ (Waldman 2000, p. 242)
  4. ^ (Graffy 2010, p. 72)
  5. ^ (Thompson 1996, p. 42)
  6. ^ "Audrey Munson Pinched for Posing, Tells View of Silk-Shinned Immorality". Belvidere (Illinois) Daily Republican. October 4, 1921. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "Innocence ad" (27 October 1921). St. Louis Star and Times. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  8. ^ "World Famous Art Model at New Grand". Duluth Herald. March 11, 1922. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Audrey Munson in Allegorical Film. Motography. May 27, 1916. p. 1192. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Judell, Maxson F. (November 7, 1915). "Sensation is Expected to Follow This". (Madison) Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  11. ^ "Maxson F. Judell obituary". (Milwaukee) Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. October 13, 1972. Retrieved February 6, 2019.


  • Graffy, Neal (2010). Historic Santa Barbara: An Illustrated History. HPN Books. ISBN 1-935-37714-0.
  • Thompson, Frank T. (1996). Lost Films: Important Movies that Disappeared. Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-806-51604-6.
  • Waldman, Harry (2000). Missing Reels: Lost Films of American and European Cinema. McFarland. ISBN 0-786-40724-7.

External linksEdit