The Kiss (1900)
This was released as an admitted remake of the original “The Kiss,” starring May Irwin and John C. Rice. It was far less controversial in its time, but Edison Studios did everything they could to make it as profitable.
We see a mid-shot of two people, a man and a woman sitting close together, in front of a backdrop that suggests a cozy setting. The woman has her hair up and wears a frilly dress, the man has a mustache. They hug one another and peck at each other’s lips, although the kisses generally only last for a second or two. There is no really scandalous deep kissing, and they spend more time smiling at one another than actually kissing.
As a student of early cinema, I’m always amused when someone today complains about there being too many remakes. Remakes are literally as old as cinema, and they were far more common and frequent in the first years of experimentation than they are today. The Edison catalog was entirely up front about this remake: “Nothing new, but an old thing done over again and done well. Some one has attempted to describe a kiss as ‘something made of nothing,’ but this is not one of that kind, but one of those old fashioned ‘home made’ kind that sets the whole audience into merriment and motion, and has always proven a popular subject. It is very fine photographically and an exhibit is not complete without it.” It’s interesting to wonder why it was necessary to remake this film only four years after its release at the same studio – possibly the original was now too worn out to make further copies, or possibly they hoped that by using a new camera and modern film, they could improve the picture and the impact. The actors are noticeably younger than John Rice and May Irwin, and it may be that as their fame waned, the image of two middle-aged people kissing was less appealing than it had been.
Director: Unknown (imdb claims Edwin S. Porter, but Library of Congress does not confirm this).
Starring: Unknown (imdb claims Fred Ott, but this is almost certainly wrong).
Run Time: 45 secs
You can watch it for free: here (no music).