Via Bluoz (our favorite blog to find weird stuff about the neighborhood), we find this gem of a movie titled ‘The Tenderloin at Night’, produced by the Thomas Edison studios in 1899. (Note that it’s not called the “Uptown Tenderloin” as Shaw & Co. keep insisting.) As Bluoz points out, it is probably the first exploitation movie of all time, showing alcohol, prostitution, crime, police, it’s all there in barely two minutes.
The film was actually made in West orange, New jersey, but according to the Library of Congress, it depicts the Tenderloin district in San Francisco 112 years ago. Still looks exactly the same, doesn’t it?
In case it was too confusing, here’s the plot as described by YouTube poster TigerRocket (who thinks it’s New York City’s Tenderloin, but we’ll go with the Library of Congress on this one):
This bawdy crime vignette has all of the seedy charm of the ‘Tenderloin’ at night as a stranger enters a drinking house, let’s call him ”Mark.” He’s heartily greeted by the other patrons, so he pulls out a gloating wad of cash and buys the house an impressive round. He quickly finds himself and his presidential pals the center of flirtatious attention. By way of diversion the flirty gal’s man / beau / pimp, slips the guy a ‘Mickey.’ He drinks himself into a convenient stupor with each woman cleaning his pockets. One woman gives the audience a blue moment when she slips the cash in her shapely silk safe. The mark wakes up to find his gains gotten. Out numbered by the crooked locals, he finds himself ejected by the knowing proprietor and a conveniently available cop, leaving the house full of ‘low lives’ to celebrate their ill gotten gains. The babes burst into a brief can-can. More leg show! The victim returns with the law but the film ends as abruptly as the marks good time.