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Savage jungle lust explodes when a tramp steamer ferries five women to uncertain fates as they sail upriver to a remote diamond mine in the Brazilian jungle. Four of the women are meeting prospective spouses for arranged "mail order" marriages. But the fifth, innocent young Mary Lee, thinks she's on her way to get a job. The others realize she is in for a rude awakening when she finally meets her "employer", a large lecherous beast of a man named Von Luden, the unscrupulous boss of the mine. One of the brides, a big-hearted world-weary broad named Mame who knows how to handle guys like Von Luden, offers to switch places with Mary Lee, giving up her prospective husband, Dave, to the naive girl. Dave, Von Luden's noble hard-working partner at the mine, is wanted by American authorities for embezzlement, and he drinks to drown his contempt for his sadistic German partner, who is very aware of Dave's fugitive status. After a drunken matrimonial bash, when Von Luden gets Mame instead of a promised nubile virgin, he decides to take Mary Lee anyway. His vicious sexual assault on the girl is cut short when Dave busts down the door. The two men slug it out, with Von Luden getting the worst of it. In revenge, the beaten man decides to turn Dave in to the police. The night before the police arrive, the unrepentant Von Luden rapes and murders the virgin daughter of the mining camp's doctor. The discovery of her limp body in the swamps leads to a bloody showdown. Picture Brides is a grim and gritty jungle melodrama of desperation and debauchery. Phil Rosen, who traced his four-decade film career back to his days with Edison, directed this no-nonsense piece with a stark frankness. Envisioned as a star vehicle for young Dorothy Libaire, it is the silent screen veteran Dorothy Mackaill who carries the film with a spirited, earthy performance.

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ALP5006 Picture Brides DVD (1934/Dorothy Mackaill) $5.99