01 April 2009

Put Another NIckle In

First building housed Nickelodeon in Pittsburgh 1907

April 2, 1902 First movie theater opens in Los Angeles. Housed in a circus tent, the venue was dubbed "The Electric Theater." Its earliest pictures included "New York in a Blizzard." Admission cost about 10 cents for a one-hour show. After the opening of the first movie theater, in Los Angeles in 1902, amusement arcades began opening small storefront theaters called Nickelodeons (so called because admission cost 5 cents), which showed short silent films, usually less than 15 minutes, accompanied by a live pianist. By 1907, some 2 million Americans had visited a Nickelodeon.

The Great Train Robbery, one of the Edison Company's most famous films, was produced in 1903. It was very successful and soon remade by motion picture manufacturer Sigmund Lubin who released his version in June 1904. The film included a famous close-up shot of Justus D. Barnes in the role of the outlaw, shooting straight at the camera, a scene that could be shown at the beginning or end of the film. The film cast also included G. M. Anderson, who later became better known as the first Western star, Bronco Billy.

In the musical Ragtime, one of the characters is a refugee from Europe who makes little flip books for his daughter and turns it into a motion picture business to become a wealthy man. The song that tells his story is:

Buffalo Nickle Photoplay, Inc.

I was a maker of the silhouettes
who made a small improvement-
a little book of silhouettes
that simulated movement.
Well, people seemed to like it,
soon the money's going clink!
and I'm Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, inc!

I go from silhouettes to photos.
I invent a small projector,
and soon, I'm making movies
and they're calling me director!
An industry is dawning
and I'm standing on the brink-
Mister Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, inc!

Life shines from the shadow screen
comical, yet infinitely true.
People love to see what people do,
here where everyone is someone new.
Such tales from the shadow screen!
Little men who never get the breaks,
fighting on till something fin'lly takes-
what a lovely movie it all makes!

Well, business is booming
I'm happy to say.
I just made a contract
to film for pathe
a series of chapters that end in suspense-
each week, see what's next
for another five cents!
And i am waking every morning
filled with such anticipation!
i frame the sea,
i frame the sky.
And this is my vacation.

I shake your hand,
I kiss your hand,
I buy you all a drink!
And maybe if you chance to see
a movie that was made by me
remember when the name goes by
that's ash-k-e-n-a-z-y
the baron, now American,
who happened once to think
of silhouette and flicker book
and movies as they're meant to look
and Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc!


The Great Train Robbery

Opening Number of Ragtime


enigma4ever said...

darn...I was indeed arpil fooled.. so so sad...thank you...wow...your blog looks lovely....okay I will sit and sulk and read for a bit...have not been around much...anywhere...too tired...



Linda said...

If I was any good at math, I could probably figure out how much the cost of seeing a movie has increased since that first 10 cents for an hour. We sure pay a LOT more than that now, don't we?

When I was a kid and we lived on an Air Force Base my parents used to send us off to free matinees with a nickel that we could then buy either two Charms pops or a bag of popcorn with. I still remember seeing the original black & white Batman movie - those were the days!