The First Romantic Movie

The First Romantic Movies


The year was 1896. It was the year that the X-Ray was invented, the first modern Olympics was held in Athens, and the first “Romance” film was released. The Romance section at Blockbuster didn’t require much shelf-space I guess.

Film was in its infancy and as an “infant” was only walking a few seconds at a time. In the case of this film, ‘The Kiss’, it was 18 seconds of silent, black and white, amorous lip action between actors John Rice (playing Billie Bikes,) and May Irwin (playing The Widow Jones). Controversial in that it showed public displays of affection without regard for the tender young eyes in the audience (“Won’t somebody think of the children?”) and a moustache to send the most frigid girls crazy with burning desire, it attracted a lot of heat from conservative cohorts and many theatres banned it.

By today’s standards the controversy is laughable, and the scene more of a sweet, and kind of awkward display from a time where photographic memories of the time show us dour, staunch faces. No tongues, barely any lip action, and May Irwin is dressed up to the neck in some sort of billowing pillow dress.

2 years later the film was “spoofed” by director William Nicholas Selig in his short film, ‘Something Good – The Negro Kiss’ which was the first film to show Black intimacy. Maybe this could be considered the first “Romantic Comedy”.

Romantic films have certainly come a long way; from an on-screen side kiss being considered devilishly raunchy to humans and vampires going at it.

What is your favourite romantic film?

Are you a fan of romance?

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