Edison Kinetoscopic Records (1894)

Documentary, Experimental | April 1894

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HISTORY

These 1894 films, mostly fifty feet in length, survived either as positive photographic paper strips in the U.S. Library of Congress or as films in Paris, France, archives. They were filmed at Thomas A. Edison’s West Orange, NJ, studio, called the Black Maria, by William K. L. Dickson and William Heise. Most of the performers were vaudevillians. Several of the acts, including various Native Americans and Annie Oakley, were part of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, and made films at the Black Maria to promote their American and European tours. Carmencita was an entertainer at Koster & Bial's Concert Hall on Twenty-third Street in New York City; she performed for the camera in the second week of Mar 1894.
       The Kinetoscope was an early version of a motion picture film projector, first submitted for patent by French inventor Louis Le Prince and later by U.S. inventor Thomas A. Edison. In 1989, Edison commissioned his laboratory assistant, William K. L. Dickson, to invent a motion picture camera. By 1892, Dickson and his team had created a heavy camera called the Kinetograph, as well as a Kinetoscope for viewing its images. Dickson’s device used perforated celluloid filmstrips, usually about forty-seven feet long, which ran through the camera synchronized with the shutter. These strips could then be played back in a loop inside the battery-driven Kinetoscope, illuminated by an incandescent lamp. Each Kinetoscope machine allowed only one viewer at a time. Kinetoscopes were marketed to privately owned public gathering spaces, such as amusement parks and hotels. In 1894, the first Kinetoscope Parlor opened in New York City, charging twenty-five cents for access to its five machines. Kinetoscopes were immediately popular, ...

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These 1894 films, mostly fifty feet in length, survived either as positive photographic paper strips in the U.S. Library of Congress or as films in Paris, France, archives. They were filmed at Thomas A. Edison’s West Orange, NJ, studio, called the Black Maria, by William K. L. Dickson and William Heise. Most of the performers were vaudevillians. Several of the acts, including various Native Americans and Annie Oakley, were part of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, and made films at the Black Maria to promote their American and European tours. Carmencita was an entertainer at Koster & Bial's Concert Hall on Twenty-third Street in New York City; she performed for the camera in the second week of Mar 1894.
       The Kinetoscope was an early version of a motion picture film projector, first submitted for patent by French inventor Louis Le Prince and later by U.S. inventor Thomas A. Edison. In 1989, Edison commissioned his laboratory assistant, William K. L. Dickson, to invent a motion picture camera. By 1892, Dickson and his team had created a heavy camera called the Kinetograph, as well as a Kinetoscope for viewing its images. Dickson’s device used perforated celluloid filmstrips, usually about forty-seven feet long, which ran through the camera synchronized with the shutter. These strips could then be played back in a loop inside the battery-driven Kinetoscope, illuminated by an incandescent lamp. Each Kinetoscope machine allowed only one viewer at a time. Kinetoscopes were marketed to privately owned public gathering spaces, such as amusement parks and hotels. In 1894, the first Kinetoscope Parlor opened in New York City, charging twenty-five cents for access to its five machines. Kinetoscopes were immediately popular, and to supply them with new films, Edison built a one-room studio called the Black Maria near his West Orange, NJ, laboratory.
       For more information about the early history of Thomas A. Edison’s film production, see Edison Kinetoscopic Records (1893).

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
LCMP
p. 17, column 2
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1894
Production Date:
1894-2 Apr 1895
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
William K. L. Dickson
9 August 1894
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Surviving 1894 Kinetoscopic films from Edison Manufacturing Co. include the following: Athlete with Wand —an exercising man does knees bends and twists a stick with both hands, while a dog watches nearby; Carmencita —a woman in a Spanish costume with wide skirt dances; Cockfight [No. 2] —a man oversees two fighting roosters in early Mar 1894; Buffalo Dance — three Indians from Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show dance in costume as two other Indians pound drums, filmed on 24 Sep 1894; Hadj Cheriff —an acrobat in costume leaps and flips his body; ...

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Surviving 1894 Kinetoscopic films from Edison Manufacturing Co. include the following: Athlete with Wand —an exercising man does knees bends and twists a stick with both hands, while a dog watches nearby; Carmencita —a woman in a Spanish costume with wide skirt dances; Cockfight [No. 2] —a man oversees two fighting roosters in early Mar 1894; Buffalo Dance — three Indians from Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show dance in costume as two other Indians pound drums, filmed on 24 Sep 1894; Hadj Cheriff —an acrobat in costume leaps and flips his body; Hornbacker and Murphy (also titled The Hornbacker-Murphy Fight) —a five-film bout featuring two boxers punching at each other in a makeshift ring, filmed on 2 Oct 1894; Glenroy Bros [No. 2] —two fully dressed men box and do acrobatics in a ring; Luis Martinetti —an acrobat contorts himself using two hanging rings, filmed on 11 Oct 1894; Robetta & Doretta [No. 2] —two vaudevillians perform their “Heap Fun Laundry” act stepping in and out of a two-door shed, probably filmed in Nov 1894; Band Drill —a martial band leader conducts eight uniformed members of a military-style band; Billy Edwards and the Unknown —two men box in a makeshift ring in front of a crowd of men; Finale of 1st Act of Hoyt's “Milk White Flag” —thirty-four members of Charles Hoyt's song-and-dance farce perform five abbreviated scenes, filmed in early Dec 1894.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.