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Cohen's Fire Sale (1907)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  29 June 1907 (USA)
4.4
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Ratings: 4.4/10 from 70 users  
Reviews: 3 user

A shopkeeper suffers the loss of some valuable merchandise, and thinks of a way to regain his losses.

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Title: Cohen's Fire Sale (1907)

Cohen's Fire Sale (1907) on IMDb 4.4/10

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Storyline

A shipment of merchandise from France arrives at Cohen's Millinery, and is placed outside the storefront, where Mr. Cohen opens it up. When he and his employees have gone back into the store for a moment, a trash collector mistakenly picks up the crate and carries it off. A frantic chase results in most of the hats being scattered throughout the neighborhood. Later, Mr. Cohen, upset about the loss, looks for a way to make some of his money back. Written by Snow Leopard

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Short | Comedy

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29 June 1907 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Of Some Interest As A Study In Stereotyping
31 October 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

The stereotypes, especially in the main character, make it very difficult to be entertained by this Edison Company feature, and if it retains any interest now it is as a study of stereotyping in its era. "Cohen's Fire Sale", like the slightly earlier Edison feature "The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog", drew its main idea from some picture postcards that were experiencing a brief vogue at the time. Kino's collection of Edison films includes both of these features, plus photographs of some of the postcards from which the ideas originated. But while the "Whole Dam Family … " idea was innocuous, if silly, this one is now uncomfortable to watch.

The main character is a milliner named Cohen, who is heavily stereotyped in appearance and action. The first half is mildly amusing, as a trash collector's error leads to some valuable hats being scattered across town. It is in the second half that the stereotypes come to the fore, with Cohen's behavior in response to his lost merchandise. Not only the story but even some of the visual details expect the viewer to 'get' its portrayal, which makes it difficult indeed to watch now.

There must have been someone at the time who thought that this was a good idea for a movie, but it now looks ill-advised at best. That's not to imply that film-makers or movie-goers in 1907 were any worse than those of our own generation, although certainly they were no better. It's just always easier to see previous generations' biases and shortcomings more clearly than they could see them for themselves. Time has made it easier to see the problem with a movie like this, and no doubt there are things that are commonly accepted today that will be seen much differently a century from now.


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