Railways, Subways, Phantom Rides-08

A Kiss in the Tunnel
P and R: George Albert Smith. UK 1899
Print: BFI

“The railway subgenre soon incorporated short scenes for comic relief. G. A. Smith made a one-shot film of a couple kissing in a railway carriage — a gag that had comic strip antecedents. He suggested that showmen insert Kiss in the Tunnel into the middle of a phantom ride, after the train had entered the tunnel. Unlike the structuring strategies suggested by Selig, comedy and scenery were contained within the same fictional world. Ferdinand Zecca’s Flirt en chernin de fer was intended for the same use, but rather than require the entrance of the train into a dark tunnel, Zecca matted in a window view of passing countryside. A Lubin film, Love in a Railroad Train (1902), depicts a male traveler’s unsuccessful attempts to sneak a kiss from a woman passenger. When they emerge from the tunnel, it turns out that he is kissing her baby’s bottom. Porter combined a variation on Lubin’s gag with Zecca’s use of a matte to make What Happened in the Tunnel. A forward young lover (G. M. Anderson) tries to kiss the woman sitting in front of him when the train goes into the tunnel but ends up kissing her black-faced maid instead. The two women, who anticipate his attempt and switch places, have a laugh at his expense. The substitution of a black maid for a baby’s bottom suggests the casual use of demeaning racial stereotypes in this period.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p. 262 f.

15 years later:

L’anglais tel que Max le parle
R: Max Linder. D: Max Linder, Cécile Guyon. P: Pathé. Fr 1914



Railways, Subways, Phantom Rides-07

New Brooklyn to New York via Brooklyn Bridge
P: Edison Manufacturing Company. USA 1899

“This is a new negative showing the entire trip from Brooklyn to New York, in which the immense towers stand out clear and distinct against the sky. The best picture of the Brooklyn Bridge yet secured.”
Edison films catalog


Railways, Subways, Phantom Rides-05

Railroading in the East. Train Films 1897-1906.
Print: Library of Congress
Collection of films made by Edison and Biograph.

“In the 1890s illustrated lectures, often known as ‘lantern journeys’, featured railroads as the best way to reach and view American scenery. These frequently created a spatially coherent world with views of the train passing through the countryside, of the traveler/lecturer in the train, of scenery that could be seen out the window or from the front of the train, and finally of small incidents on sidings or at railway stations. The railroad, which carried its passengers through the countryside, was ideally suited for moving the narrative forward through time and space.”
Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon. Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. Berkeley/Los Angeles/Oxford 1991, p. 261

TRAUM UND EXZESS, S. 118 f. (about Black Diamond Express)

Railways, Subways, Phantom Rides-04

Empire State Express
P: American Mutoscope & Biograph. USA 1902

Empire State Express was a phenomenal hit that thrilled – and momentarily terrorized – unsuspecting viewers. In one instance, ‘two ladies in one of the boxes on the left-hand side of the horseshoe, which is just where the flyer vanishes from view, screamed and nearly fainted as it came apparently rushing upon them. They recovered in time to laugh at their needless excitement.’ Such films attracted their own constituency. Biograph’s first night at Hammerstein’s, for example, was attended by a large group of men from the New York Central Railroad; on the following Thursday, the railroad bought a block of two hundred seats in the orchestra.”
Charles Musser: The Emergence of Cinema. The American Screen to 1907. Berkeley-Los Angeles-London 1990, p. 152 ff.