The American Experience: Season 3, Episode 11

Coney Island (4 Feb. 1991)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | History
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 63 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 1 critic

The film explores the beginnings of America's first amusement park and takes us through its good times all the way up to its end. The show was originally produced for PBS's American Experience.



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Title: Coney Island (04 Feb 1991)

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The film explores the beginnings of America's first amusement park and takes us through its good times all the way up to its end. The show was originally produced for PBS's American Experience.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The ups and downs of America's first amusement park.





Release Date:

4 February 1991 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Piano selections from 'Play Me a Movie'
Performed by Abraham Lass
Courtesy of Smithsonian/Folkways Records
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User Reviews

I loved this but there was way too much 'purple prose' for my taste.
29 August 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Although I love watching "The American Experience" DVDs and have bought some for myself, one problem I have with them is that although they are made by PBS (who has a good history of closed captioning with their shows), oddly the DVDs that I have seen do NOT have captioning of any sorts--none. It's a shame, as I a have a slight hearing loss and really don't like cranking up the volume--and would much rather just turn on the captions. Plus, my youngest is deaf and she cannot share these films with me. So, if you like or need captioning, beware.

As for the show itself, there was a lot to like. Seeing the wonderful film clips and stills of the rides, the attractions and the marvelous lights is more than enough reason to see this. Also hearing about some of the seemingly insane exhibits was fascinating. Did you know that at one point they had ethnographic exhibits featuring natives from around the world as well as Midget City to provide merriment and excitement to the masses? Did you know that some of the famous natural disasters and battles were recreated in front of crowds up to 12,000! Did you know that they had a 'leapfrog railway'? And, did you know that for some time the biggest and most successful exhibit was The Incubator--featuring, in total, 8000 premature babies for the public to view!!

Unfortunately, there was one serious problem with the film I really couldn't help but notice. The film abounded with so-called 'purple prose'. In other words, ridiculously worded language that was way out of proportion for the show. The use of words and phrases such as ineffably, realized unconscious of its age, metamorphosed and the like just came off as fake--or like sophisticated people trying to sound better than the masses. And, of all the places, Coney Island is the least appropriate for such elitist language.

By the way, although I've seen the clip a few times, some might be bothered by some actual film footage of an elephant being electrocuted. Just something to think about or skip past. It appears at the 43-44 minute mark.

So my advice is to watch this exciting film...but also realize that there are a lot of fat-heads who cannot communicate in a way that the ordinary person can comprehend OR might laugh at because it comes off, occasionally, as ridiculous. A truly intelligent person does not need to use all this prose to get their point across well.

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