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The Kiss (1896)

Two people kiss.

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Cast

Credited cast:
May Irwin ...
The Widow Jones
John C. Rice ...
Billie Bikes
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Storyline

A couple make love, in the 19th century sense. Then he grooms his moustache, and gives her a kiss. On the lips! Written by David Steele

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Genres:

Short | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

1896 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film contained the very first kiss on film, with a close-up of a nuzzling couple followed by a short peck on the lips ("the mysteries of the kiss revealed"). The kissing scene was denounced as shocking and obscene to early moviegoers and caused the Roman Catholic Church to call for censorship and moral reform - because kissing in public at the time could lead to prosecution. The film caused a scandalized uproar and occasioned disapproving newspaper editorials and calls for police action in many places where it was shown. One contemporary critic 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 Edison catalog advertised it thus: "They get ready to kiss, begin to kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss in a way that brings down the house every time." Perhaps in defiance and "to spice up a film", this was followed by many kiss imitators, including The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899) and The Kiss (1900). See more »

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User Reviews

 
They get ready to kiss, begin to kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss in a way that brings down the house every time.
27 June 2007 | by (Chinatown, California) – See all my reviews

In 1896 the Edison Company purchased the rights to a motion picture projector that had been invented by C. Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat. The projector was renamed the Vitascope and had its commercial debut on April 23, 1896. During its first year the most popular film shown using the Edison vitascope was the May Irwin Kiss.

May Irwin who was a Canadian actor, comedienne and singer. Her first starring role on Broadway came in 1895 in a musical comedy created for her by J.J. McNally, called The Widow Jones. In one key scene at the end of the play, Irwin and her co–star, John C. Rice, kiss each other with something of a flourish. Many were scandalized when they recreated their stage kiss for Edison's camera the following year, and one clergy member denounced the film as "a lyric of the stockyards". Critic Herbert Stone complained, " . . . neither participant is physically attractive and the spectacle of their prolonged pasturing on each other's lips was hard to beat when only life size. Magnified to gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over is absolutely disgusting!" Despite, or perhaps because of these derisive reviews, the May Irwin Kiss became the most popular film produced that year by Thomas Edison's film company.


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