Best Movies of 1897
The X-Ray Fiend
A romantic couple are transformed into skeletons via X-Rays. The film combines two very recent innovations: Wilhelm Roentgen's discovery of X-rays in 1895, and Georges Méliès' accidental realisation of the special-effects potential of the jump-cut in 1896.
A man peeping through a keyhole at an attractive young woman gets his comeuppance. This film, presumed lost, is often mistaken for Ferdinand Zecca's "What Is Seen Through a Keyhole" (1901).
Giant Coal Dumper
“Shows how a full carload of coal is loaded onto a vessel every thirty seconds at the great Erie Railroad Docks, Cleveland, Ohio. Great clouds of coal dust rise as each car is unloaded.”
From Maguire & Baucus catalogue: A most amusing and life-like scene, in which a number of young ladies clad in their night robes, are seen engaged in a midnight frolic.
The Miller and the Sweep
In front of a flour mill, two men fight. One is the miller, and he's swinging a bag of flour in the scuffle. The other is a chimney sweep, and he's swinging what may be a bag of flour, but when it breaks open, it's clearly something else. Well into the havoc, spectators gather and give chase to the flour-covered sweep and the "well-sooted" miller.
"Two German anglers are fishing, with odd results. One gets a bite, and pulls in a length of stovepipe. The other is so astonished that he falls overboard."
The Surrender of Tournavos
Three military men, seen inside a fortification, are firing on an unseen enemy force. The call for reinforcements but ladders appear signalling the enemy is about to overrun this position.
Mr. Edison at Work in His Chemical Laboratory
“This film is remarkable in several respects. In the first place, it is full life-size. Secondly, it is the only accurate recent portrait of the great inventor. The scene is an actual one, showing Mr. Edison in working dress engaged in an interesting chemical experiment in his great Laboratory. There is sufficient movement to lead the spectator through the several processes of mixing, pouring, testing, etc. as if he were side by side with the principal. The lights and shadows are vivid, and the apparatus and other accessories complete a startling picture that will appeal to every beholder.” (Edison Catalog)
The Haunted Castle
George Albert Smith's remake of Georges Méliès - Le Manoir du diable (The Haunted Castle) from 1896. This film is lost or never existed. Copies of it online are actually a Méliès film.
A commercial. Four men sit in animated conversation in front of a billboard for Admiral Cigarettes. The billboard fills the entire background