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.
Serpentine Dance: Loïe Fuller
Loïe Fuller performs a serpentine dance.
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.
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.
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.
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)
A commercial. Four men sit in animated conversation in front of a billboard for Admiral Cigarettes. The billboard fills the entire background
Serpentine Dance, Annabelle
1897 version of Annabelle Moore performing a serpentine dance.
99ème régiment d'infanterie : assaut du portique
A regiment of soldiers demonstrate their skills.
Buffalo Fire Department in action
Ten horse-drawn pieces of equipment of the Buffalo Fire Department pass by a stationary camera that looks down a broad avenue as they come toward it...
The Mischievous Monkey
"This is a very laughable scene. A guest in a hotel who has retired, is disturbed in his slumbers by a monkey, which enters through the window and goes through a series of queer antics. The part of the monkey is taken by a skilled acrobat; and his work in this scene is of a particularly clever sort." (AMB Picture Catalogue)
A woman in a white gown performs a skirt dance, using her arms to produce circles and other patterns within the folds of her costume. Her legs and feet appear to be bare. (Library of Congress)
“A comic subject, clear, bright and characteristic. Shows four girls in their night dresses, engaged in an animated pillow fight. During the action the pillows become torn, and the feathers fly over their heads and about the room in great numbers, producing with the white dresses and the black background a novel effect. Sharp, full of action, and popular in character.” (Edison Catalog)
Beyrouth, place des canons
Beirut: place cannons.
African men dance, sing and play instruments.
Pie Eating Contest
"Two men, with hands tied, are eating huckleberry pies for a wager, direct from the plates. Their faces and shirts are clean when they start. Extra ludicrous when colored."
Women Fetching Water from the Nile
École de cavalerie de Saumur, le carrousel militaire: Changement de main
A military horseback riding event from 1897.
Royal Princes in St. Paul's Churchyard
Assassinat de Kleber
Staged assassination from the Lumiere company.
Royal Carriages Passing Westminster
Royal Carriage Arriving at St Paul's
Queen's Carriage and Indian Escort Arriving at St. Paul's
Dragoons Passing St Paul's
Head of Colonial Procession, Canadians, etc
Return of Lifeboat
Along the seashore near San Francisco, a boat belonging to the Pacific Coast Life Saving Service can just be seen as it returns to shore. Several men are at the oars. As the boat approaches land, it must make its way through rough waves and surging water.
Head of Procession Including Bluejackets
Fast mail, Northern Pacific Railroad
Here is a twelve car train dashing along at a high rate of speed. It is seen first in the distance and approaches and then passes by the camera...
Corner Madison and State Streets, Chicago
The busiest corner in Chicago. Cable cars and street traffic of all descriptions. Hundreds of shoppers. Fine perspective view looking north toward the Masonic Temple.
The First Sleigh-Ride
“This subject taken just after the recent first fall of snow, shows two enthusiastic horsemen indulging in a "brush" with their respective horses and cutters.” (Maguire & Baucus)
Stanford University, California
People walking around the campus. The view shows an immense arch in the background through which are seen coming groups of students, some walking, others on bicycles. The ivy covered walls of the building form the background to a pleasing picture.
From Edison films catalog: A long line of horses, mules and ponies are led, driven and ridden into the yards, where they are sold and distributed.
Caped Mounted Riflemen Passing St Paul's
Life Guards and Princes North of St Paul's
"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."
Hotel Del Monte
Shows a party of tourists at this famous resort; located in Monterey, Cal., on the Southern Pacific Railroad. The magnificence of its surroundings is clearly shown. This early sponsored film by Southern Pacific Railroad offers views of tourists at the opulent resort in Monterey, California.
Dewars Scotch Whisky
In slow motion, a line of giddy, possibly drunk men dressed in Scottish highland outfits perform a disorderly dance routine in front of a sign advertising the product of the title. This film is often incorrectly described as the first filmed advertisement.
Horses loading for Klondike, no. 9
The wharf is crowded with live stock, and the huge derrick slowly drops the large box or sling into the bunch. Into this cradle a horse is led, and is slowly hoisted and swung over to the deck of the steamer. This picture is taken ten minutes before sailing time.
First Avenue, Seattle, Washington, No. 8
From Edison films catalog: Taken during the Klondike excitement. The streets are crowded with miners buying outfits and supplies. Mule trains, trolley cars and hurrying pedestrians give life and bustle to the scene. 50 feet. $7.50. Advertised as part of the "Northern Pacific Railway Series" (Edison films catalog): The following pictures were taken by our artists at various points on the Northern Pacific Railway. We are greatly indebted to their officials who afforded us every opportunity in their power to obtain these splendid views. Many of the scenes are incident to the excitement prevailing at the time of the Klondike gold rush. They show the resources of this company for handling large numbers of people, baggage, freight and excursion parties, and give to prospective tourists and merchants an idea of the facilities with which this road handles traffic of all kinds (p. 9). (LoC)
Free-for-All race at Charter Oak Park
Great horse racing on the famous Hartford track, showing start and finish of a 2.04 3/4 heat run by the fastest harness horse in the world, John R. Gentry.
Launch of life boat
This Edison short delivers everything the title says. In 24-seconds we see a boat being lowered into the water led by Capt. Joseph Hodgson. The boat is put into the water and it quickly disappears out of frame on a drill helping them prepare for a real sinking.
The Horitz Passion Play
A staging of Jesus' passion.
Loading baggage for Klondike, no. 6
This was the first ship sailing for the Klondike from Seattle during the gold rush of 1897. The picture shows the excitement and enthusiasm that attended the great Klondike exodus. Crowds of anxious gold seekers watch the loading of their outfits, clothing, kits and provisions into the hole of the Williamette.
Shows the wharf at San Francisco, Cal., with a large fleet of fishing boats at anchor.
Another Edison film shot in San Francisco at the Fisherman's Wharf. Once again the camera is looking down on a group of men doing their jobs.
Projectile from Ten Inch Disappearing Gun Striking Water, Sandy Hook
"Result of a shot from the ten-inch disappearing gun."
"A fascinating skirt dance by the well-known roof garden favorite."