I’m currently watching every movie ever featured in Disney’s Great Movie Ride, and I have to say, before I started this project, I would have never known that the oldest film in the attraction dates back to 1896!
I’m not sure it’s even possible to review this film, but where I’m trying to write a review for every movie on the ride, I guess I’ll have to try. If you are unfamiliar with The Kiss (1896), the clip shown in the montage of The Great Movie Ride would barely give you a clue at all to what the film was. I recognized the clip shown on the ride easily as soon as I watched this film, but in the quick context of the ride’s finale montage, I would have thought it was a much longer silent romance story.
Instead, The Kiss is really just an 18-second clip of two people not even kissing, really they are just whispering very closely. It stars two vaudeville performers, May Irwin as Widow Jones and John Rice as Billie Bakes. (The actors’ names are why you may actually know this film titled as The May Irwin Kiss, The Rice-Irwin Kiss, or The Widow Jones.)
The film is a very short reenactment of the kiss between the two from The Widow Jones stage show, filmed at the first film studio in the country, Edison Studios. (Yes, that Edison.) It was one of the first ever films to be shown to much of the general public, and for that reason along with its age and significance with the tie to Edison Studios, it was selected to join the National Film Registry in 1999.
With the film being so short, I’m not sure there is too much to say about it in terms of a real review. I did find it interesting, just in terms of watching a piece of film history I had never seen before. And while it did seem really sily to watch The Kiss when the actors don’t even do what the title suggests, it is just a fun piece of media from another time with a significant history. I enjoyed watching it for what it was, but it’s obviously going to be impossible to compare this with probably all of the other films on the list.