Cripple Creek Bar Room Scene (1899)
This is another one of those movies sometimes called “the first Western,” and I guess it has a reasonable claim, although it’s so short that it’s a little hard to think of it as really definable in terms of genre. It seems to be intended more for comedic effect than to make any deep statements about the frontier, although it does suggest something about the code of conduct in a “lawless” area. It shows a barroom in which a group of men are playing cards, and an obviously already-inebriated man comes in for a drink. After taking his drink, he knocks a stove-pipe hat off the head of an unconscious man, who wakes up and becomes annoyed. The newcomer is ejected by the bartender, a large woman, with some help from the card players. She then goes behind the bar and sets up drinks for the house. It’s interesting to note that she is obviously able to handle herself and not at all threatened by the drunk’s behavior. There are no guns on display, nor any apparent indication that their use would be likely. The card-players and the bartender seem to represent a kind of community standard for acceptable behavior, while the passed-out drunk is tolerated, and the aggressive drunk brings on social reprisal.
Director: James H. White
Run Time: 48 seconds
You Can Watch It for Free: Here.