Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkward e

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Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkward e

PostThu Feb 15, 2018 12:34 pm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5391047/The-screen-kiss-couples-awkward-embrace-in.html

The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkward embrace in front of a film camera outraged Victorian society and drew fierce response from the Vatican

First recorded smooch shown in Thomas Edison's film 'The Kiss' in the 1800s
Footage sparked controversy at the time as public kissing frowned upon
'Shocking and pornographic' embrace prompted calls for police action

By Victoria Bell For Mailonline

Published: 09:14 EST, 14 February 2018 | Updated: 11:42 EST, 14 February 2018

The first ever on-screen kiss, recorded in the late 1800s, seems a world away from the Love Island antics of today.

But the awkward embrace between these two actors was branded as 'pornographic' after outraging Victorian-era audiences leading to a call for it to be banned by the Roman Catholic Church.

The black and white footage of the first ever recorded smooch resurfaced today on Valentine's Day, some 120 years after it was originally recorded. The video shows a couple nuzzling each other, and bizarrely exchanging conversation, while their cheeks are clamped together.

It ends with the mustachioed gentlemen flamboyantly preening his whiskers before moving in for a peck on the lips.

The film, known as The Kiss, was one of the first films ever to be shown commercially to the public, and is thought to have been projected in 1896 in Canada.

The silent movie was produced by Edison Studios, which was founded by famed American inventor Thomas Edison just two years before the film was released. It was directed by US cinematographer William Heise, who is credited for making up to 175 silent films around the 1890s.

Lasting just over 20 seconds, it depicts a re-enactment of the kiss between actors May Irwin and John Rice from the final scene of the stage musical The Widow Jones.

The kiss itself is rather peculiar as for most of its running time, the two actors in the silent film appear to talk to one another with their lips pressed together before sharing a peck at the end.

Despite being barely enough to raise an eyebrow by modern standards, Edison's The Kiss was extremely shocking to audiences of its day.

Actors May Irwin and John Rice in the final scene of stage musical, The Widow Jones. The kiss itself is peculiar as the two actors appear to talk to one another with their lips pressed together

Actors May Irwin and John Rice in the final scene of stage musical, The Widow Jones. The kiss itself is peculiar as the two actors appear to talk to one another with their lips pressed together
Actor John Rice Nuzzles up to actress May Irwin for the near-entirety of the silent movie, as the pair exchanged apparently light-hearted remarks, while their faces are locked together

Actor John Rice Nuzzles up to actress May Irwin for the near-entirety of the silent movie, as the pair exchanged apparently light-hearted remarks, while their faces are locked together
Actor John Rice readies his mustache before sweeping in for the controversial smooch

Actor John Rice readies his mustache before sweeping in for the controversial smooch
This lip-locking moment concludes the short black and white movie, after a John Rice flails his arms in anticipation, as his co-star May Irwin puckers up for the finale

This lip-locking moment concludes the short black and white movie, after a John Rice flails his arms in anticipation, as his co-star May Irwin puckers up for the finale

One critic at the time wrote: 'The spectacle of the prolonged pasturing on each other's lips was beastly enough in life size on the stage but magnified to gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over it is absolutely disgusting.'

The Kiss caused uproar amongst the establishment at a time when kissing in public was greatly frowned upon by Victorian society and could even lead to prosecution.

The scene was denounced as shocking and pornographic to early moviegoers and caused the Roman Catholic Church to call for censorship and moral reform.

It also drew intense criticism in many newspaper editorials, prompting calls for police action in many places where the film was being shown.
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bigshot

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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostThu Feb 15, 2018 5:25 pm

May Irwin is an ancestor of mine. She was a Canadian and came from fine Methodist stock. But she was considered a black sheep and was written out of my family history. My brother discovered her when he was doing our genealogy
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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostThu Feb 15, 2018 7:54 pm

bigshot wrote:May Irwin is an ancestor of mine. She was a Canadian and came from fine Methodist stock. But she was considered a black sheep and was written out of my family history. My brother discovered her when he was doing our genealogy


I've wondered if the same happened to other "shameful" performers like Loie Fuller. Disowned as black sheep.

This article reminds me a lot of Dubai when I was there a year ago. Public displays of affection are not permitted. Even relatives giving hugs at airport arrivals. It was one of the things that would get someone arrested and put before a judge.
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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostFri Feb 16, 2018 1:43 am

My grandmother told my brother and I all the names of all of our ancestors going back more than six generations, including cousins and aunts and uncles. But there was a hole in the genealogy when she got to May and her sister. She insisted we had no black sheep in our family, but she had to know that she was leaving them out.
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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostFri Feb 16, 2018 9:08 am

Lots of misinformation in the article. The Roman Catholic Church did not take a stand on motion pictures until well into the twentieth century. The Church had nothing to say about banning the movie's source play either. That's not to say that individual cranks and crackpots might not have complained about the movie. But the public in general could have cared less.

So the author's entire premise that the play and movie were "extremely shocking to audiences of its day" is dubious, although publicists did try to stir up attention to the projects through newspaper articles exploring "the kiss in modern culture." Far from being "denounced as shocking and pornographic to early moviegoers," The Kiss was the most popular movie of the year, based on sales, and The Widow Jones continued May Irwin's string of box-office successes.

It's always tempting to laugh at how stupid and old-fashioned people in the past were, or to apply modern sensibilities and prejudices to the art of another time. What I find interesting about The Kiss is how publicists today use the same basic strategies in promoting projects, whether plays, movies, books, articles, whatever. And the dirty secret behind the movie is the fact that May Irwin built her career on "coon" songs.
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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostSun Feb 18, 2018 11:13 am

Daniel Eagan wrote:Lots of misinformation in the article. The Roman Catholic Church did not take a stand on motion pictures until well into the twentieth century. The Church had nothing to say about banning the movie's source play either. That's not to say that individual cranks and crackpots might not have complained about the movie. But the public in general could have cared less.

So the author's entire premise that the play and movie were "extremely shocking to audiences of its day" is dubious, although publicists did try to stir up attention to the projects through newspaper articles exploring "the kiss in modern culture." Far from being "denounced as shocking and pornographic to early moviegoers," The Kiss was the most popular movie of the year, based on sales, and The Widow Jones continued May Irwin's string of box-office successes.

It's always tempting to laugh at how stupid and old-fashioned people in the past were, or to apply modern sensibilities and prejudices to the art of another time. What I find interesting about The Kiss is how publicists today use the same basic strategies in promoting projects, whether plays, movies, books, articles, whatever. And the dirty secret behind the movie is the fact that May Irwin built her career on "coon" songs.


It's the Daily Mail. Misinformation is basically what they publish.
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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostSun Feb 18, 2018 11:19 am

"Video"? "Recorded"?

Oy.
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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostSun Feb 18, 2018 12:16 pm

Daniel Eagan wrote:And the dirty secret behind the movie is the fact that May Irwin built her career on "coon" songs.


Her most famous song is The Bully which was from The Widow Jones. It isn't a secret. The Bully sold 5 million copies. It's why she was famous. She was the first female singer to sing jazz. She was also the first female millionaire in America. I'm proud of her even though my Campbell ancestors weren't.
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Rick Lanham

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Re: Daily Mail: The first on-screen kiss: How couple's awkwa

PostSun Feb 18, 2018 2:53 pm

bigshot wrote:She was also the first female millionaire in America. I'm proud of her even though my Campbell ancestors weren't.


Well, maybe she's the first who earned her million.
Hetty Green, and probably others, inherited vast wealth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hetty_Green

Rick
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

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