- This three-act melodrama by Edward Sheldon opened at the Hackett Theatre on 17 November 1908 for 71 performances starring Minnie Maddern Fiske. Sheldon's first important play was directed by Harrison Grey Fiske with an eye for richly realistic details emphasizing the lives of New York's immigrant underclass. Nell Saunders, a cleaning woman at a 10th Avenue saloon, becomes pregnant by street tough Jim Platt. Jim is imprisoned for killing a man attempting to seduce Nell and she loses her job. Major Williams of the Salvation Army recruits her, saving her from falling into prostitution. Eight years elapse and Nell has become a leading force with the Army. Jim, newly released from prison, is at first put off by Nell's attempts to reform him. When she threatens to turn him in to the police when he plans a robbery, Jim beats her before running away in fear of returning to prison. Williams expresses his love for Nell, but she and her child await Jim's return. Hearing her address a congregation, Jim is deeply moved and asks her to help him change. Critics applauded the play's realism and its emphasis on exposing the squalid conditions of turn-of-the-century New York City slums. Motion picture versions of Salvation Nell were released in 1915, 1921, and 1931.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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