Film History: Old Man Drinking A Beer

film
Here’s a curious piece of film (and beer) history. I don’t know if it’s the first time someone was filmed drinking a beer, but I imagine it has to be one of the first. The film is from 1898 (or 1897), and is known as Old Man Drinking a Glass of Beer, though it’s also sometimes known as Comic Face. Frankly, he doesn’t look that old to me.

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It was made by legendary British filmmaker George Albert Smith and features a close-up of comedian Tom Green drinking a beer and making faces. Green was a local Brighton comedian and was known for his “pantomime harlequinades at the Brighton Aquarium.” He went on to appear in many subsequent films made by Smith.

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This was apparently a groundbreaking development in film, showing the actor close up making changing facial expressions and this type of film became known as a “facial,” defined as “a work showing a variety of facial expressions to the audience.” According to one source, “the ability to get close up to the star was a great advantage that film had over the stage and early filmmakers were keen to exploit it,” and in this one Green is shown in a single shot “drinking a glass of beer whose face and hands become increasingly lively as a result.”

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Here you watch the entire 38-second silent film:

Comments

  1. Beerman49 says

    In 1897/8, 60 was OLD (I’d suspect the comic was 55-65), as average life expectancy for a male back then was unlikely to have been much more than 55. What’s also amusing is that the label on the bottle somewhat resembles the current Beck’s label (tho I’m sure the beer was a British one of the day).

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