The Era of Vaudeville Volume 1 (Containing 31 films) on CD

$14.97     Qty:

SKU: B125

The Era of Vaudeville is comprised of a total of 60 motion pictures. This auction is for Volume 1, which contains 31 films. Films include animal acts, burlesque, dance, comic sketches, dramatic excerpts, dramatic sketches, physical culture acts, and tableaus. Many of the films were produced from 1897 to 1920. The remaining films were produced by Hans A. Spanuth in Chicago from 1919 to 1920 for the series "Spanuth's Original Vod-A-Vil Movies."

Product Details

The Era of Vaudeville is comprised of a total of 60 motion pictures. This auction is for Volume 1, which contains 31 films. Films include animal acts, burlesque, dance, comic sketches, dramatic excerpts, dramatic sketches, physical culture acts, and tableaus. Many of the films were produced from 1897 to 1920. The remaining films were produced by Hans A. Spanuth in Chicago from 1919 to 1920 for the series "Spanuth's Original Vod-A-Vil Movies." These motion pictures present a rare animated record of vaudeville acts from the turn of the century. Although not actually filmed on a theatrical stage, they sought to recreate the atmosphere of a theater performance by showing the types of vaudeville acts and performers that were popular at the time.

Below are sample clips from four of the films on this CD

Here is a description of each film on this CD

Laura Comstock's bag-punching dog

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1901.

SUMMARY Opens with the head and shoulders of a woman in full dress and hat and the front paws and head of a boxer visible behind a sign that reads "Miss Laura Comstock's Bag Punching Dog." Cuts to the dog sitting on his haunches on a stage with a painted backdrop of a trail through a forest. As the dog starts to wander offscreen, a large punching bag drops from above. He leaps up and hits the suspended bag with his head and body, causing it to swing. The dog repeatedly punches the bag in this manner until he knocks it down completely, grabs it in his mouth, and shakes it from side to side in his teeth.

Stealing a dinner

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY A man sits at the dinner table, with a row of dogs behind him and a black dog sitting near the table in the foreground. When the master rings a bell for service, a dog enters on her hind legs dressed in a servant's cap and apron. As she hops toward the table, however, a cat jumps upon the surface. The master tosses the cat off the table as the serving dog exits. The man rings the bell again but gets no response, so he takes off his dinner napkin and leaves the stage. Seeing this, the black dog turns and jumps on the table, where he promptly eats his master's dinner. The black dog then grabs the cat in his mouth and places it on the table. As the man returns to the table, he sees his empty plate and the cat crouched nearby. Thus blaming the cat for the stolen dinner, the man first scolds the feline and then draws a pistol aimed at the "thief." When the black dog sees the gun, however, he jumps on the table between the pistol and the cat, begging on his hind legs for the master to spare its life. The man grabs the dog by the collar, dragging him to the floor, and instead shoots the unlucky dog. A large dog--perhaps a Great Dane--in a policeman's uniform enters on his hind legs, grabs the man by the shoulders from behind, and chases him offstage. The other dogs follow in an excited pack.

Animal act with baboon, dog and donkey

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : [Commonwealth Pictures Corp., 1919 or 1920?]

SUMMARY Opens on a closeup of a baboon "playing" a violin, then cuts to a medium shot of the same. The baboon wears a white short-sleeved shirt with a loose bow tie and tweed pants. Cuts to a closeup of the baboon in a circular mask or iris effect, without the violin but with a collar around his neck and a striped kitten that he places on his shoulder. Another iris effect opens to a long shot of a stage with a painted backdrop of a river. Standing at stage left is a woman in a spangled, sleeveless dress to the knee and high laced boots, holding the leash of a dark donkey. The baboon stands center stage, near a man in a white animal trainer suit with dark piping and a white cap. On a chair stage right sits a black and white spotted dog. A series of cuts show the baboon performing various tricks, including roller-skating in a circle around the man, doing a walking handstand, circling the stage atop a large ball, and riding the ball down a ramp with the kitten in his arms. The dog then creates figure-eights through the woman's legs as she walks, and jumps a rope held by the woman and baboon. Cuts to the baboon riding a bicycle in a circle around the man. Cuts to the baboon leading the donkey onstage, and then to the donkey apparently play-biting and kicking two men. The gag of the men trying to mount the donkey--only to be bitten, kicked, or thrown off--is repeated, with one intertitle: "A 100% kick." Ends after the baboon jumps on one man.

Tom Tinker's pony patter

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : [Commonwealth Pictures Corp., 1919 or 1920?]

SUMMARY Camera iris opens to six ponies with decorated harnesses and plumed halters, standing in the center of a stage with a painted backdrop of mountains. Cuts to two ponies on a seesaw, with a moustached man in a white uniform with dark piping and a white cap holding their leads. A second trainer in a dark suit can also be seen occasionally with the ponies. Individual ponies perform a variety of tricks, including rolling a slatted barrel across the stage with front legs and then with a nose, knocking over the barrel, "limping" across the stage with one front leg held off the ground, and pushing the trainer over with a nose-butt. Cuts to the six ponies lined up at the back of the stage, with each pony's head lying over the neck of the pony in front of him. Cuts to the ponies circling the trainer in a straight radial line and then in various combinations, including three by three, pairs, and singly. The ponies finish their circling by walking in a straight line to the front of the stage and then bowing on their knees. Cuts to a closeup of the six ponies in a line, facing the camera, which closes in an iris effect to black.

Jumbo, the trained elephant (in 2 parts)

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : [Commonwealth Pictures Corp., 1919?]

SUMMARY Camera iris opens from black to a smiling man standing in front of an elephant, who is seated on her haunches on a stool with her front legs raised in the air. They are apparently on a stage with a painted backdrop of a forest. The man gives the elephant a treat, who then stands as the iris closes. Another iris effect opens on a stage with a painted backdrop of a castle. A man enters, dressed in a trainer or ringmaster's uniform of a dark suit with shoulder braids and a white cap. He is followed by Jumbo, a small Indian elephant with clipped tusks wearing a headress or headband. Both bow to the camera. A circus stool is rolled on the stage and Jumbo steps onto it with her front legs. A pony and dog enter the stage and create a domino effect behind the elephant, with the pony's front legs on Jumbo's rear and the dog's front legs on the pony's rear. Cuts to the dog making figure eights around Jumbo's legs as the elephant walks. Cuts to Jumbo lying down, then the pony and dog stand on either side of her with their front legs on her sides. Cuts to the pony walking across the stage on its hind legs, and then bowing with the trainer to the camera.

Part 2: Cuts to Jumbo climbing on the circus stool with all four legs. The trainer gives her one end of a rope to hold with her trunk, and he twirls the other end as the dog jumps the rope. The trainer and the dog then jump the rope together as Jumbo watches. Cuts to the elephant sitting on the stool as the trainer places a handbell on a small table in front of her. Jumbo picks up the bell with her trunk and rings it. The man sets a plate on the table, from which Jumbo eats and then tosses aside. She rings the bell again and appears to drink from the bottle which her trainer brings in response. A series of jump cuts show Jumbo crawling on the ground in a circle on her back knees, standing on her hind legs, performing a handstand on her front legs, balancing on the circus stool with various combinations of two legs, and dancing in place with her front legs. Cuts to a frame of intertitle: "Oh! How she dances." With her back to the camera, Jumbo shuffles her hind legs in a kind of dance. Cuts to a closeup of Jumbo's open mouth as she walks toward the camera. Closes with her picking up a series of flags on the ground with her trunk and tossing them over her back. She holds the last one--a U.S. flag--as she turns in a cirle, the trainer bows, and the dog excitedly jumps around on stage.

From show girl to burlesque queen

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a dressing room set with a mirror, dressing table, and chair center stage and a folded dressing screen on the left. A smiling, dark-haired woman enters through the door on stage right, unbuttoning a full-length polka-dot costume. As she undresses, she frequently looks directly at the camera and smiles. She removes her sash or cummerbund, the top with its trailing sleeves, and her skirt, leaving her clothed only in a sleeveless chemise. Smiling directly at the camera, she mischievously slips a strap of the garment off one shoulder, then ducks behind the screen. After the chemise is thrown over the top of the screen, her arm furtively reaches out from behind the screen and grabs a slight garment from the back of the chair and some items from the dressing table. She then emerges wearing a risqu?, decorated costume with cap sleeves and a very short skirt, gathered at the waist. Her legs appear to be bare. The woman brandishes a sword, grabbed from under the discarded dress, and strikes a seductive pose as the viewer glimpses a costumed man entering the room.


CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1902.

SUMMARY On a bare stage with a black background stands a woman with short, curly hair, wearing a dark dress with a sleeveless top, low-cut bodice, mid-calf length skirt, and layers of petticoats. Smiling at the camera, she seductively raises her skirt to reveal the multiple white petticoats, as well as her lacy, white bloomers to the knees, white tights, and a garter on her right thigh. Peering over her lifted skirt, Karina slowly turns around and then lowers to her knees and leans back, circling with her upper body and arms. Still holding up the skirt, she returns to standing. With her back to the viewer, she bend backwards at the waist so that she looks at the camera, and dramatically covers her face with one arm. Karina then stands back up and turns to the camera. Lifting her skirt, she performs a "dance" consisting of circles, leg lifts, and twirls.

Kiss me

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1904.

SUMMARY Opens on a stage set of a street with a sidewalk and a high fence completely covered with female burlesque troupe posters. The four posters visible advertise actual contemporary burlesquers Fred Irwin's Majestics, Rose Sydell (of her London Belles), Phil Sheridan's New City Sports (with the tag line "Ain't we three birds"), and the Rentz-Santley Co. One of the center posters--that for Rose Sydell--features an attractive woman with nude shoulders. Two well-dressed women pass along the sidewalk, glancing disapprovingly at the images covering the fence. They are followed by a woman and a younger girl, perhaps her daughter. The latter pauses to look at the Sydell poster; the older woman, looking back, reacts in horror at what she sees and drags the girl away. An older bearded gentleman then strolls by, enjoying an eyeful of the posters, and is about to walk off when he is drawn back to the woman in the Rose Sydell ad. He jumps as she seemingly comes to life and turns to look at him seductively, pursing her lips. The man rubs his eyes, but still the woman in the poster watches him. He finally puts on his eyeglasses and examines the girl closely. Unbeknownst to him, an older woman enters the scene. Shocked, she grabs the man by his ear and drags him away as he blows a kiss to the "poster."

Pity the blind

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1904.

SUMMARY Filmed version of a popular vaudeville gag, as if from the audience of a variety theater. A boy, holding a sign under his arm, leads a man onto a stage with a painted backdrop of a city street corner. With his dark glasses and cane, the man is apparently blind. He kneels down slightly left of center stage and lays down his hat and cane, while the boy turns the placard around so that it reads "Pity the Blind," places it around the man's neck, and exits the stage. A gentleman with a cigar crosses the stage, pauses to read the sign, and drops some money in the blind man's hat. He is followed by two well-dressed women in furs and long coats, who also leave coins for the beggar after searching their purses. As they start to exit, however, one of the women stops and raises her skirt to adjust her tights. Behind her back, the supposed blind man slides his dark glasses down his nose and ogles the woman's exposed leg. With the leggings in place, the women exit the stage none the wiser, leaving behind a smiling "blind" man.

Princess Rajah dance

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1904.

SUMMARY Princess Rajah performs an "Oriental" or belly dance, and a balancing chair act in her teeth like that often found in folk performances in various cultures from Northern Africa to Greece. Shot outdoors in a street scene at the St. Louis Exposition, the film captures her act in an extreme long shot. She wears a dark, sleeveless dress to mid-calf, with a fringed, low-cut bodice and fringed belt worn at the waist, over multiple petticoats, bloomers, stockings, and heeled shoes. While playing finger cymbals, Princess Rajah performs a variety of dance movements that include spins, traveling movements, shoulder and hip shimmies, a frontal hip lock, other hip movements, and pirouettes. She then grabs a decorated chair in her teeth and swings it above her head, playing the finger cymbals and performing traveling foot movements, followed by floor work with the chair. Returning to a standing position still with the chair in her mouth, she performs shimmies and hip movements while playing the finger cymbals, then lowers the chair in front of her face and spins. She puts the chair down with a flourish, makes a closing gesture to the camera, and starts to exit the frame.

Trapeze disrobing act

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1901.

SUMMARY Camera is positioned as if in the audience at a vaudeville or burlesque show. Two men with long hair and beards in rough clothing appear to be eating and talking in a box on the left as a female aerialist sits on a trapeze over the stage and its painted backdrop of trees. Fully dressed in street clothing, the trapezist removes her jacket and hat before performing a flip. She stands to remove her skirt and then sits back down on the bar as she takes off her corset and throws it to the country bumpkins in the box, who fight over the undergarment. The trapezist continues to disrobe, removing her shoes, stockings, and garters, again throwing the latter to the men, and then seemingly hangs upside down (with her feet anchored off-camera) as she slips off her petticoat. Thus clad only in tights, trunks, and a camisole, the woman performs her trapeze act to the increasingly excited men.

Turkish dance, Ella Lola

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1898.

SUMMARY A young, dark-haired woman performs a period "Oriental" dance (commonly known as a belly dance) with some Turkish styling. She performs distinctive dance movements that include shoulder shimmies with pelvic movements and several foot patterns, side traveling movements with pelvic circles, a slow pelvic circle and a front pelvic lock, and paddle turns with various arm gestures. Her dance costume consists of a two-layered skirt to the knee, a hip belt with fringe, a chemise-like shirt under a fitted vest, several layers of necklaces and front decoration, white stockings, white--perhaps ballet--shoes, and a glittering fitted cap.

Alphonse and Gaston

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a set of a saloon or tavern with a long bar and pictures on the wall that include boxers, a ballerina, and a reclining female. At the end of the bar stands the bartender, reading a newspaper. Two men dressed as the clownish characters of Alphonse and Gaston enter the bar. Both have dark, bushy hair and beards and wear hats, with one dressed in a dark jacket and checkerboard pants and the other wearing a plaid jacket, dark trousers, and spats. Alphonse and Gaston order a bottle, then politely and repeatedly insist that the other should take the first drink. A cowboy dressed in fringed chaps, boots, a Western hat, and a neck kerchief enters the bar, a pistol in each hand, and laughs at the Frenchmen's antics. He begins shooting at their feet, forcing them to dance, while he and the bartender have a good laugh. As the bartender begins to spritz them from soda bottle, Alphonse and Gaston exit the bar dancing. The cowboy walks to the bar and pours himself their drink as he and the bartender continue to laugh over the incident.

As in a looking glass

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a split stage set of two rooms with a door and wall between them. In the living or dining room on the left of the frame, an elderly, bearded man sits at a table, reading the newspaper. In the bedroom on the right, a boy in a suit with short pants attaches a long string to the end of a dresser drawer, with the other end hanging from a hole in the wall to the other room. As the boy works and watches, a woman dressed in a long-sleeved white blouse, striped skirt to the knee, and dark stockings enters the main room with a pitcher, which she sets on the table in front of the gentleman and then exits. The boy finishes with the drawer, replacing it in the bureau, and then quietly enters the other room unnoticed. He feeds more of the string through the hole in the wall, attaches the loop at the end of it to a leg of his grandfather's chair, and retreats to the door to watch. The woman enters the bedroom and powders her face and fixes her hair in the mirror above the dresser. She tries to open the top drawer--the one the boy has rigged--but it appears stuck. After struggling with it, she succeeds in yanking it open, falling backwards in the process. As the drawer opens, the attached string pulls over the man and the chair. When the man sees the boy jumping with delight at the door, he chases his grandson out of the room.

The boys think they have one on Foxy Grandpa, but he fools them

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1902.

SUMMARY Opens on a stage with a stone fence and a painted backdrop of a forest or garden. In front of the fence is a bench, on which sits Joseph Hart as the cartoon character of Foxy Grandpa, reading a newspaper or magazine. He sports a bald pate with white bushy hair on the sides, a large bulbous nose, and a potbelly, and wears spats with a light-colored suit, vest, and tie. From stage right enter two mischievous boys, "Chub" and "Bunt," dressed in matching suits with short pants to the knee and dark stockings, boots, and caps. One of the boys carries a banjo. They stop and gesture at Foxy Grandpa, laughing, and hand him the banjo when he looks up and notices them. As the boys laugh and poke each, Grandpa begins to play the banjo like a pro, inducing the boys to engage in a bit of tap or shuffle dancing. When they finish, Foxy Grandpa takes the floor while providing his own music on the banjo. As the boys clap and watch in amazement, Grandpa tap dances and performs advanced movements such as split kicks. Closes with all three dancing offstage.

Chimmie Hicks at the races

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, [1900?]

SUMMARY Filming of a character sketch by the well-known vaudevillian Charles E. Grapewin. On a bare stage backed by a dark curtain, a man dressed in a three-piece suit and overcoat holds a racing program and excitedly watches a race supposedly taking place offstage. With enthusiastic jumping and other delighted pantomime, he makes it clear his horse has won the race. A second man in a suit and hat enters from stage right and pays Chimmie his winnings, a portion of which the gambler returns to the man for another bet. With the start of the second race, he again watches with rising excitement, but suddenly his face falls and he angrily throws his hat on the ground, having evidently lost this time. The other man returns and collects all of Chimmie's money plus his pocketwatch. The repentant gambler then kneels, shakes his arms to the heavens, rips up his program, and scatters the pieces on the ground, apparently swearing off betting. He rises, pulls on his hat, and dejectedly begins to walk offstage.

The chimney sweep and the miller

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1902.

SUMMARY Filming of a popular vaudeville gag. Opens on a stage with a painted backdrop of a lake and forest. From opposite sides of the stage enter a chimney sweep, covered from head to toe with black soot and carrying a folding broom and black sack, and a miller, dressed completely in white and carrying a white sack. The two men bump into each other center stage, with some of the sweep's soot dirtying the miller's uniform. They exchange angry words, and then begin hitting each other with their sacks. As expected, black soot from the chimney sweep's bag spots the miller's whites, and white flour from the miller's sack lands on the sweep's dark clothing. The brawl culminates with a large cloud of black and white in which the men seem to disappear.

Dancing boxing match, Montgomery and Stone

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : [Winthrop Moving Picture Co.], 1907.

SUMMARY Very short vaudeville turn from the well-known team of Montgomery and Stone. Appears to have been filmed outdoors in front of black paper taped up on a wall as a backdrop. Two men box in a comedic manner, with the film opening as one man in a cap punches the other and then ducks behind him. The second man swings wildly through the air, causing him to fall down in an acrobatic shoulder roll that in turn propels him back to a standing position. He turns and finds his opponent, then approaches him swinging as the film ends abruptly.

Dog factory (in 2 parts)

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1904.

SUMMARY In the middle of a store or factory set sits a machine identified as the "Patent Dog Transformator." On the walls behind it are coils of sausages or hot dogs, labeled with the name of the dog they represent: Pointer, Setter, Fighting Bull, Bull, Terrier, Spaniel, Poodle, Plain Dog, Trained Dog, Bull Pups, Boston Bull, Daschund [sic], Mut, and Pug. At the top of the back wall is a sign that reads "Dogs made while you wait--Dog Factory--Dogs mixed to order." A bearded man in a suit stands by the machine looking bored, as his partner in a cap and apron dusts the rows of sausages. A tramp enters the store with a string of three dogs, which he sells to the man in the suit. One by one, the three dogs are loaded into the top of the machine, cranked by the man in the apron, and transformed into links of sausage that come out the right end of the contraption. These links are then hung up in their proper places on the wall: Plain Dog, Trained Dog, and Boston Bull. A man identified as a dandy with his cane and straw topper enters and orders a spaniel. The process is then reversed, as the appropriate coil of meat is taken off the wall and put in the top of the machine, resulting in a dog exiting from the left end of the transformator. The next customer, a woman, orders a dachshund, but the dog proves too jumpy for her and is changed back to a sausage; the woman then settles on a terrier, and leaves happily with her purchase

Part2.: A man in a suit enters the factory and orders a trained dog. The resulting canine does tricks such as a back-flip at the urging of the owner in the apron, and the customer leaves satisfied. When the next woman requests a small dog, a string of bull pups are produced for her, from which she selects her favorite; the rest of the puppies are turned back to sausage. Finally, a "tough" enters the store and orders a Boston Bull, but he rejects the resulting dog as not mean enough. The factory owners then create a fighting bull, which comes out of the transformator biting. In the resulting commotion, with the Boston Bull also running around the store, the fighting bull grabs the tough by the seat of his pants and the two wrestle. The factory owners laugh as the bull and customer exit the shop, still fighting.

The extra turn

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1903.

SUMMARY Camera is positioned as if in the audience of a vaudeville show. A man and two women, all in evening clothes, are seated in a theater box to the left of a stage with curtains and a painted backdrop of trees. A young woman in a white dress, identified by a sign as "Dolly Lightfoot," performs a simple dance with leg kicks. The audience in the box applaud as she finishes, takes a curtsy, and exits. When they continue to clap, the dancer returns for an encore bow, and the man in the box throws her a bouquet of flowers. After she again exits, a man comes on the stage and changes the sign to "Extra," indicating an extra "turn" or act. A man in evening dress and holding sheet music takes the stage, and begins to sing with broad gestures. The trio in the box grumble and angrily gesture at the stage, then they throw their fans and hats at the oblivious singer and cover their ears. More hats and other objects are thrown by the off-camera audience, until one succeeds in knocking down the vocalist. He runs off stage, but quickly returns with an umbrella and continues to sing undaunted, even when the man in the box throws his seat cushion. Finally, two stagehands enter and drag and push the offending singer off stage, to the relief of the theater patrons.

A frontier flirtation

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a stage with a painted backdrop of a forest or garden. On a park bench center stage sits a well-dressed woman with a dark veil obscuring her face, holding an open parasol overhead and a closed fan in her lap. A mustached cowboy enters, dressed in fringed chaps, boots, Western hat, neck kerchief, and pistol belt. When he spies the woman, he primps for a moment, arranging his mustache, and then approaches her. The cowboy takes off his hat and bows, then leans into the bench to talk with her. She rebuffs his numerous attempts to take her hand, but finally allows him to lift her veil. The cowboy reacts in horror as an animal face, perhaps a monkey's, is revealed, and then runs off the stage. A stylish gentleman in a suit with a straw boater and cane enters and sits familiarly beside the woman. He reaches over and removes what proves to be a mask as he and the now-beautiful woman have a good laugh. At one point, the gentleman gives her a kiss on the cheek.

A gesture fight in Hester Street

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a street scene with a sidewalk and backdrop of storefronts, including a liquor store and pharmacy, apparently meant to represent Hester Street in New York City. A bearded, dark-haired street peddler in a long dark coat and hat hawks suspenders and perhaps neckties. A young woman in a long skirt and long-sleeved white blouse with a flowered hat walks quickly past, and the peddler turns to gesture angrily after her. Behind him enters another bearded peddler, also identified through his clothing as Jewish, and his pushcart. The cart bumps the first peddler, who turns and argues with the interloper. The argument escalates into a pushing match and then a brawl, with the men's hats knocked off and the pushcart turned over by their wrestling. A policemen enters and tries to break up the fight with his nightstick.

Happy Hooligan .

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a stage set of a house exterior, complete with a door, window, and ivy on the walls. In front of the house, an organ-grinder plays as Happy Hooligan listens and claps along merrily. The Hooligan character is dressed as a tramp in a ragged and torn suit, and sports a bald pate with an incredibly tiny hat perched atop it. A middle-aged woman appears in the house window and yells down to the musician to stop. Encouraged by Hooligan, however, the organ-grinder continues as the woman grows increasingly upset and Hooligan pokes fun at her. As she leaves the window, the tramp suddenly warns off the organ-grinder, pushing the street musician offstage. From the other side of the stage enters an angry policeman, who grabs Hooligan by the throat, shaking and yelling at him. The woman reappears in the window with a pail of water, which she mistakenly throws on the policeman. When she sees the officer sputtering on the ground, she faints against the window frame. As Hooligan laughs heartily, the policeman gets up and storms inside the house.

Levi & Cohen, the Irish comedians

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a vaudeville or variety stage with a flat painted curtain of a stone fence and garden. On the right side of the stage sits a sign that reads "Zuzu Daffy, Singing Soubret." A boy in an usher's uniform crosses the stage and replaces the sign with one that reads "Levi and Cohen, Irish Comedians." The boy exits, and the curtain rises to reveal a painted backdrop of a pharmacy storefront. Two men strut onto the stage; one in a black beard, black coat with tails, light-colored pants, and a black top hat, and the other with a bald pate and large nose, dressed in a dark coat and vest, plaid pants, and a bowler, and carrying a cane. The pair go into their act, which seems to consist of the bearded man repeatedly knocking the bowler off the head of his partner while enthusiastically telling a joke or story. The unfortunate man finally has enough, and jumps his bearded friend. The "audience" of this act are apparently displeased with the performance, and two men sitting between the camera and the stage stand up and begin pelting the comedians with eggs or vegetables. While Levi and Cohen try to shield themselves from the barrage, both of them--as well as the set--are soon splattered with stains.

Mr. Jack in the dressing room

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1904.

SUMMARY Opens on a stage set of the interior of a theatrical dressing room. Along a bar that serves as a dressing table sit three costumed young women--perhaps chorus girls or members of a burlesque troope--adjusting their hair and makeup in three mirrors hanging from the wall. Two of the women wear very short outfits that show their stockinged legs; the third woman is dressed in a ruffled dress to the knee. A portly, middle-aged man with muttonchop whiskers enters the room, dressed in evening clothes and top hat and carrying a cane. He hands the cane and hat to the delighted women and responds to them in a jovial, familiar manner. He calls in a uniformed boy with a tray of glasses and a bottle, then pours drinks for himself and all the ladies. They toast each other and drink, then the man begins to dance a jig. The women apparently decide to dress him as a woman, placing a tulle apron around his waist as he rolls up his pants legs. As he continues his jig, a severe-looking woman in a dark dress, hat, and gloves enters. She reacts in shock at the sight of the dancing man in his skirt, then grabs him and hits him with the parasol she carries. As the young women watch and laugh, the older woman drags the embarrassed man from the room by his ear.

The serenaders

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, [1899?]

SUMMARY Opens on a stage set of a two-story brick building. Two street serenaders in rather shabby clothes stand outside the building, one playing a trombone and the other what appears to be a clarinet. A young woman appears in the upstairs window and looks down smiling on the two suitors. She soon favors and encourages the trombonist by throwing kisses and clutching her chest, while clearly rebuking the other. The rejected clarinetist angrily kicks the successful serenader in his rear, propelling the trombone player up to the woman's window in an effect that appears to be achieved through stop motion and a wire. The failed suitor howls in pain and hops around holding his foot, while the trombonist sits on the window sill in the arms of the woman and shakes off his competitor's attempts to pull him to the ground.

Subub surprises the burglar

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1903.

SUMMARY Opens on a bedroom set, with a man in a white nightshirt asleep on a Murphy bed. The bedroom window is raised from the outside, and a man dressed in black clothes and cap enters, furtively looks around the room, and checks to see that the bed's occupant is asleep. The burglar then rummages through the clothes in a chest of drawers and, finding nothing of interest, turns to the homeowner's pants near the bed. As the burglar finds and pockets a wallet, Subub awakes, sees the burglar, and activates the bed so that it closes up into the wall. The underside of the Murphy bed appears to be metal, with what look to be six canon or gun holes. As the burglar turns and notices the folded bed, gunfire shoots from the bed's portholes. With the sixth and final shot, the burglar blows up and disappears in a cloud of smoke, through the use of stop-motion cinematography. An American flag is raised from the top of the curious weapon and the bed unfolds, with Subub gleefully clapping and waving his arms.

The tramp's unexpected skate

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : Edison Manufacturing Co., 1901.

SUMMARY On a stage with a painted backdrop of a terrace overlooking a park, a man identified as a tramp by his ragged costume and beard lies asleep against a potted palm tree. Two boys enter from screen right, each rolling on one skate. They see the sleeping tramp, communicate to each other through gestures the gag they have in mind, and bend down to untie their skates. The boys then tie the skates on the feet of the sleeping hobo, and awake the man by raising and then dropping one of his legs. The tramp quickly wakes and jumps up to grab the boys, only to roll and slip, then fall on his back, as the boys easily run around him. As the tramp struggles to his feet and then falls again, the boys laugh at and taunt the hapless man. The comedic actions and pratfalls of the tramp on roller-skates are repeated.

2 a.m. in the subway

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905.

SUMMARY Opens on a set of a subway platform, with two tracks on either side and stairs leading up to the exit. A policeman stretches and wearily sits on a box or crate, as a uniformed conductor awaits a train. A subway car arrives on the left side of the platform and the conductor opens the door. A well-dressed man with a cigar in his teeth exits with his arms around two women dressed in long skirts and jackets, gloves, and fancy hats. The trio laugh and stumble on the platform as if having a hilarious time, getting the attention of the policeman who attempts to stop their bawdy behavior. Another train arrives on the right track. A man heading for that car in a tweed suit and bowler is briefly stopped by the merry trio and joins them in a laugh. As this passenger boards the train, the policeman and conductor discuss the troublemakers left on the platform. One of the women causes a sensation by raising her skirt and revealing striped stockings as her male companion bends to tie her bootlace, with the other male traveler ogling her out the subway car window.

A wake in "Hell's Kitchen"

CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, [1900?]

SUMMARY Takes place on a rather plain room set, with a single religious picture and a coat hanging from the plain, white walls. An open coffin sits in the center of the room, with its lid leaning against the back wall. An older, grey-haired woman--presumably the widow--stands holding a bunch of flowers to the left of the coffin, wailing and wiping away her tears with her apron. On the other side of the coffin sit two male mourners in three-piece suits, drinking beer. As the two men talk and light a pipe and the woman turns away in her grief, the occupant of the coffin--an older, balding man--sits up and looks around. He spies a large mug of beer to the side, picks it up, drinks all of the ale, and lies back down. When the woman places her flowers in the coffin, she notices the empty mug and questions the two mourners. The three engage in a heated argument, during which the "corpse" throws the flowers out of the coffin. Seeing this, the woman falls in a faint. In their hurry to get away, the two men knock over the coffin, spilling the supposed deceased on top of the woman.


CREATED/PUBLISHED United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY Two large squares of white fabric completely cover a woman standing on a stage with a paneled wall as a backdrop. The fabric is supported in front and back of her by some sort of flexible poles along the top edge. The woman bends these rods and peaks out from the resulting hole, with her head and neck visible. She then performs what appears to be a variation on a skirt dance , with the fabric acting as a type of voluminous costume; she is actually wearing a full-length decorated dress. Holding the poles in either hand, she twirls the fabric about her, in both a front-to-back and side-to-side motion. She closes by twirling herself so that the fabric forms an upward-moving spiral, completely covering her upper body.

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