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Monkeyshines, No. 1 (1890)

One of W.K.L. Dickson's laboratory workers horses around for the camera.


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Credited cast:
Giuseppe Sacco Albanese Giuseppe Sacco Albanese ... (as G. Sacco Albanese)


One of W.K.L. Dickson's laboratory workers horses around for the camera.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy | Family


Not Rated

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

21 November 1890 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Csínytevések 1. See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


There is some disagreement amongst two W.K.L. Dickson biographers as to when this movie was actually shot and who is actually in the cast. Writer Paul Spehr believes that it was shot at an earlier date of 1889 with Edison employee John Ott. Gordon Hendricks agrees with later date of 1890 and employee G. Sacco Albanese as the cast member. See more »


Followed by Monkeyshines, No. 2 (1890) See more »

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User Reviews

A Surreal-Looking Relic Of An Important Experiment
9 January 2006 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

This and the other "Monkeyshines" features are historically important as the remains of the Edison Company's earliest efforts to create moving pictures. The briefness of the footage of the "Monkeyshines" features hardly could reflect the many hours of intense work, thought, and trial-and-error sessions that must have gone on, but they do preserve a picture of where things were at.

The footage itself now looks weird and surreal, which was of course not at all the effect that Edison and his associates were striving for. The film actually shows one of the Edison Company workers simply goofing around for a few moments, making as many movements as possible, as the camera filmed him. The images are all indistinct, resembling specters or ghosts, and the footage has suffered many scratches and other damage over time, giving it a truly bizarre appearance that would be extremely difficult to duplicate intentionally.

Edison's original conception for moving pictures was an adaptation of his highly successful phonograph, that is, he planned to use a cylindrical approach rather than the projection format that we are familiar with. The distortion and blurring of the images reveal some of the inherent difficulties in the process, and eventually this would point them in the right direction.

In a way, it's appropriate that the record of these experiments now looks surreal and shadowy. Edison and the other pioneers of his era went through a shadowy phase in which the idea for lifelike moving pictures seemed so close, yet not quite attainable. It must have been a tantalizing and occasionally frustrating feeling for them to view the "Monkeyshines" movies and see what they had and had not yet achieved. For anyone today who is interested in the development of motion pictures, these early results can be an equally tantalizing look at the past.

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