The Kiss (1900)
Director: Edwin S. Porter
Cast: Fred Ott
In 1896 the Edison short The Kiss, in which May Irwin and John C. Rice shared the screen’s first kiss, an event which gave rise to all sorts of controversy. Perhaps because of all this media hoo-ha the film proved to be a huge success and was, in fact, still doing the rounds when this remake came out four years later. The fact that the 1900 version failed to cause even a ripple of disquiet amongst the press of the day is quite remarkable when you think about it. After all, four years should hardly be long enough for social opinions to change so drastically that what was once considered outrageous can be widely accepted without comment. However, what was a new sensation in 1896 certainly can become so familiar within that time that it quickly fails to hold the prominent position in the public eye that it once had, and that is exactly what had happened with cinema. In fact, by the end of the 19th Century, movies were decidedly old hat and were often used to chase lingering customers from theatre halls impatient to usher in their next wave of patrons.
The Film features Fred Ott, who appeared on some of the earliest movies committed to celluloid way back in 1894. The identity of his lady friend has long been lost, but she perches prettily on Ott’s lap (judging by their proximity to one another, although the film is shot in close up) as they plant self-conscious kisses on one another’s lips and cheeks, pausing every now and then to grin inanely at the camera. I suppose as far as movies exclusively about two people kissing goes it has to be considered one of the best. It’s certainly better than the original movie, and the young lady here makes a much more fetching leading lady than the rather homely Ms. Irwin.
(Reviewed 26th August 2014)