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The White Caps (1905)

Not Rated | | Drama, Short | September 1905 (USA)
Two members of a vigilante group known as 'The White Caps' post a warning sign on a man's home. When the man comes home, he tears down the sign, and then proceeds to abuse his wife both ... See full summary »


Credited cast:
Kate Toncray Kate Toncray
John R. Cumpson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Arthur V. Johnson ... (as Arthur Johnson)
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Two members of a vigilante group known as 'The White Caps' post a warning sign on a man's home. When the man comes home, he tears down the sign, and then proceeds to abuse his wife both verbally and physically. As soon as she can get away from him, the wife leaves home with her child to find a place of refuge. When the vigilantes find out about this, they arm themselves with rifles and immediately go to confront the abusive husband. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

abused wife | chase | vigilantism | See All (3) »


Drama | Short


Not Rated

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Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

User Reviews

Not a More Innocent Time
21 March 2010 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

Such old films like this one, "The White Caps", which take on matters of justice, morality and social order, can be interesting, outrageous, and even offensive today. The racist "The Birth of a Nation" (1915) is the most obvious example of a film that many people once considered truthful or moral, but is now widely criticized for its immorality. Edwin S. Porter, Wallace McCutcheon and the Edison Company, the makers of this film, also made a comedy based on racist stereotypes, "The Watermelon Patch", the same year. The previous year, they satirized eugenics (a pseudoscience invented by racists and classists) in "The Strenuous Life; or, Anti-Race Suicide". "The White Caps" especially reminds me of another early film, made across the Atlantic, "Is Spiritualism a Fraud?" (1906). In it, a spiritualist medium is assaulted and publicly humiliated by being paraded downtown while bound. As in "The White Caps", vigilantes punish a wrongdoer extra-judiciously, swiftly and violently.

Reportedly, the white caps were real organizations of vigilantes around the time of this film and located mostly in rural communities. Although the white caps they wore to hide their identities and their violent and clandestine methods remind viewers of the Ku Klux Klan, the gangs supposedly didn't necessarily hold ideals of a racist social order, although I think it's safe to assume many of them did. In this film, they tar and feather a wife beater. As the historians on the "Edison: the Invention of the Movies" DVDs say, the film doesn't allow most viewers a comfortable position to identify or align themselves with. We may want the abusive man to be punished, but we don't want him tarred and feathered. A chase sequence, as the white caps try to capture the accused, consequently, is rather horrific for such a primitive film.

The chase was a very common plot in early cinema and the Nickelodeon era, in comedies and dramas. The chase and the rest of "The White Caps" is, overall, well paced for its time--with 14 shots and some extended panning.

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Release Date:

September 1905 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Demarest, New Jersey, USA See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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