21 user 5 critic

The Kiss (1896)

Not Rated | | Short, Romance | 1 April 1896 (USA)
In a medium close-up shot of the first kiss ever recorded on screen, two fervent lovers cuddle and talk passionately at hair's breadth, just before the love-smitten gentleman decides to give his chosen one an innocent peck.


William Heise


John J. McNally (play)
1 win. See more awards »




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


In a medium close-up shot of the first kiss ever recorded on screen, the actors, May Irwin and John C. Rice, perform the controversial final scene of the stage musical play, The Widow Jones. Sometimes referred to as "The May Irwin Kiss" or "The Rice-Irwin Kiss", this tantalising reenactment depicts two fervent lovers cuddle, talk passionately at hair's breadth--and just before the love-smitten gentleman decides to go in--he swiftly brushes his well-groomed moustache to give his chosen one an innocent peck, rather than a hot-blooded kiss. Of course, things have significantly changed since 1896, and what is now viewed as innocuous, it was punishable back then. Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Romance


Not Rated

Did You Know?


A fifteen-second kiss by May Irwin and John C. Rice in the movie brought the first demand for film censorship. See more »

User Reviews

A snippet from a famous Broadway play
30 January 2005 | by silentfilm-2See all my reviews

There is not much to this film. It was made for Kinetoscope parlors with peep-show machines, and was probably rarely shown on a big screen (at least in the 1890s). It features May Irwin and John Rice in a short scene from their Broadway stage success THE WIDOW JONES.

The important thing about this film is the camera placement. Intead of seeing the actors full-length as if photographed on a stage, the photographer placed the camera near them so that we can clearly see their faces. The actual kiss is an innocent kiss as an old husband would kiss his wife. However, the closeness of the images disturbed many Victorian era people who felt a kiss was a private moment and should not be seen in public. While neither Irwin or Rice went on to make many more films, they were certainly some of the first celebrities to be immortalized on film. Looked at in this context, it is certainly an interesting little film.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 21 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

1 April 1896 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The May Irwin Kiss See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed