5.9/10
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The Kiss (1896)

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.

Director:

William Heise

Writer:

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

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Cast

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

1 April 1896 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 »

Connections

Featured in Sex at 24 Frames Per Second (2003) See more »

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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.


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