Slapstick Summer Series: Vaudevillians | Robetta and Doretto, No. 2 (1895)

Short recording of 1890s vaudeville slapstick act, “Robetta and Doretto”, performing one of their routines (Chinese Laundry Scene). It’s funny that even in these plot-less few seconds we glimpse elements familiar from the earliest slapstick movies.


1st Multi-Shot Scene

Return of Lifeboat (1897) – James H. White

Return of Lifeboat contains the oldest example of a scene being filmed from multiple angles and then edited together to give the viewer more than one perspective. It is unknown whether this scene (which is the entirety of the movie) was filmed with more than one camera recording simultaneously, or whether a single camera was quickly moved and set-up in various positions.

1st Movie Soundtrack and Musical Score

Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894) – William K.L. Dickson

This is the world’s first known experiment in creating a movie with a synchronized soundtrack. Filmed in Thomas Edison’s Black Maria studio, it features director W.K.L. Dickson playing on violin a piece of “The Chimes at Midnight”, an opera by Jean Robert Planquette.

1st Movie Kiss

The May Irwin Kiss (1896) – William Heise

The May Irwin Kiss (aka The John C. Rice-May Irwin Kiss) is a controversial re-enactment of the performers’ end-scene kiss from the stage musical, “The Widow Jones”, written by John J. McNally. The filmed action results in the world’s first on-screen kiss.

1st Camera Pan

Fifth Avenue, New York (1897) – James H. White

One of the 1st camera pans: Fifth Avenue, New York, filmed in 1897 shows “the famous parade ground of Metropolitan fashion. Exquisitely gowned women, club men, actresses, millionaires pass by on their afternoon stroll.”, as described in the Edison Catalog

1st Hand-Tinted Movie

Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895) – William K.L. Dickson

The 1st hand tinted movie, Annabelle Serpentine Dance, was filmed in Edison’s Black Maria Studios. Annabelle Moore, a young dancer from Broadway, is dressed in white veils that appear to change colors as she dances.

1st Film Edit

The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots (1895) – Alfred Clark

The 1st edit within a film, and also used for the purpose of a stop-motion effect. The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots shows a blindfolded Mary being led to the execution block. The executioner raises his axe and an edit occurs during which the actress is replaced by a mannequin. The mannequin’s head is chopped off and the executioner holds it in the air as the film ends.