Sunday, 24 August 2014

1897: The X Rays (G A Smith)

I was planning to use as many films from my own DVD collection as possible in these reviews, but the selection for 1897 was pretty limited. All I could find was the Lumiere brothers' "Niagara Falls" (one minute of footage of, well, Niagara Falls) and "President McKinley At Home", an equally uninventive record of the late president strolling in his garden and apparently signing a cheque.  So I've had to resort to YouTube again, and a quick search revealed this little gem from Brighton pioneer George Albert Smith, The X-Rays, in which an X-ray machine intrudes on a courting couple, and reveals more than the subjects might have wished at this delicate stage of their relationship.
As with the previous Melies film, it's delightful to see how quickly these early film makers were waking up to the possiblities. As well as its technical trickery it shows a wonderful playfulness that makes it funny to watch even today. Brighton comedian Tom Green plays the romantic lead to great effect - perhaps the earliest example of a professional comedian appearing in a comic role on film.