Babies for Sale (1940)

65 mins | Drama | 16 May 1940

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HISTORY

According to materials contained in the MPAA/PCA Files at the AMPAS Library, the story for this film was inspired by a 16 Sep 1939 article in Colliers about the baby trade and a 7 Nov 1939 article in Look written by Robert D. Andrews also detailing the baby trade. PCA director Joseph I. Breen's response to the subject was to advise Irving Briskin to "throw this kind of material into the wastepaper basket" because he believed that government regulation prevented the kind of baby racket depicted by the picture. Breen also expressed problems with the topic of unwed mothers and ... More Less

According to materials contained in the MPAA/PCA Files at the AMPAS Library, the story for this film was inspired by a 16 Sep 1939 article in Colliers about the baby trade and a 7 Nov 1939 article in Look written by Robert D. Andrews also detailing the baby trade. PCA director Joseph I. Breen's response to the subject was to advise Irving Briskin to "throw this kind of material into the wastepaper basket" because he believed that government regulation prevented the kind of baby racket depicted by the picture. Breen also expressed problems with the topic of unwed mothers and syphillis. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Jun 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
14 Jun 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 40
p. 2, 7
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 40
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
4 May 40
p. 46.
Variety
12 Jun 40
p. 16.
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 May 1940
Production Date:
29 March--13 April 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
9 May 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9634
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6271
SYNOPSIS

Reporter Steve Burton is writing an expose on the sale of babies for profit by fake maternity homes. While visiting kindly old Dr. John Gaines, Steve learns that of the two million babies born the previous year, some $50 million was made on their sale at $50 to $10,000 each. Much to Steve's amazement, after the story is printed, it creates an outcry, and he finds himself assailed by a conglomeration of several charitable groups led by Dr. Wallace Rankin, the head of Mercy Shelter. Rather than withdraw the story, Steve quits his job. Determined to obtain the necessary evidence to support his accusations, Steve delves into the murder-suicide of a Mrs. Anderson and her adopted baby. Unable to return the congenitally unhealthy baby that she and her husband had adopted from the Rankin home, Mrs. Anderson threw herself and the infant in front of a rushing train. Following the Anderson lead, Steve enters Mercy Shelter when Rankin is absent, but the girls refuse to be interviewed. Meanwhile, Ruth Williams, who was recently widowed in an automobile accident, enters the shelter and, upon learning that she will be forced to give up her baby, goes into labor. Rankin lies to Ruth that her baby died in childbirth, then he arranges to sell her newborn to the wealthy Kingsley family. Ruth, freed from the home by her friend and fellow inmate Edith Drake, contacts Steve. With the help of Dr. Gaines, they determine that the footprints on her baby's death certificate do not match those on the birth certificate. A study of the birth records of infants born in the same ... +


Reporter Steve Burton is writing an expose on the sale of babies for profit by fake maternity homes. While visiting kindly old Dr. John Gaines, Steve learns that of the two million babies born the previous year, some $50 million was made on their sale at $50 to $10,000 each. Much to Steve's amazement, after the story is printed, it creates an outcry, and he finds himself assailed by a conglomeration of several charitable groups led by Dr. Wallace Rankin, the head of Mercy Shelter. Rather than withdraw the story, Steve quits his job. Determined to obtain the necessary evidence to support his accusations, Steve delves into the murder-suicide of a Mrs. Anderson and her adopted baby. Unable to return the congenitally unhealthy baby that she and her husband had adopted from the Rankin home, Mrs. Anderson threw herself and the infant in front of a rushing train. Following the Anderson lead, Steve enters Mercy Shelter when Rankin is absent, but the girls refuse to be interviewed. Meanwhile, Ruth Williams, who was recently widowed in an automobile accident, enters the shelter and, upon learning that she will be forced to give up her baby, goes into labor. Rankin lies to Ruth that her baby died in childbirth, then he arranges to sell her newborn to the wealthy Kingsley family. Ruth, freed from the home by her friend and fellow inmate Edith Drake, contacts Steve. With the help of Dr. Gaines, they determine that the footprints on her baby's death certificate do not match those on the birth certificate. A study of the birth records of infants born in the same weeks as Ruth's baby leads to the Kingsley home, where by a ruse, Steve and Gaines obtain a set of the baby's footprints and find that they match those of Ruth's child. Confronted with the evidence, Kingsley denounces Rankin, and his confession is overheard by the police. Mrs. Kingsley returns the girl to Ruth, after which Ruth and Steve leave, promising to let the Kingsleys come and visit. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Social


Subject
Subject (Major):

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.