Friday, April 13, 2012

Admiral Cigarette - 1897

Country: United States
Release Date: August 1897 (USA)
Also known as: Admiral cigaretta (Hungary)
Production Co: Edison Manufacturing Company
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Advertising | Cigarette Smoking | Advertisement
Genres: Documentary | Short
A commercial. Four men sit in animated conversation in front of a billboard for Admiral Cigarettes. The billboard fills the entire background. Beside them is a large box, also marked Admiral. The men are a social cross section: one wears a feathered headdress, another a military outfit, a third striped pants like Uncle Sam, and the fourth (with pork-chop whiskers) is in a suit, vest, tie, and hat. Suddenly, the box pops open and a man emerges in Napoleonic admiralty garb: he hands out cigarettes, then tosses dozens of them on the ground as the men light up and unfurl a banner saying, "We all smoke." Smiling, everyone points to the billboard. 
The first advertising film lodged for copyright at the Library of Congress, 5 August 1897.
One of the films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives (2004)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by the Library of Congress, has a running time of 29 seconds and an added piano score.
Although made by the Edison Manufacturing Company, a few years after its release Thomas Edison himself became a very ardent anti-smoking "campaigner". He said that, despite what the ad had promoted, that "We All Smoke", he would not hire someone who did. A very unusual stance for the very early-1900s.
One of the ads exhibited for free on New York rooftops in 1897 for free. The nightly spectacles attracted so many people (reportedly, thousands) that the projectionist, Edwin S. Porter was detained by police for "blacking traffic on Broadway at Thirty-Fourth Street."
Referenced in The Tragedie of Admiral Cigarette (2006). A sequel to the original Edison short. 
Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood: Peepshow Pioneers (2010). Clip shown: Man emerges from box and hands out cigarettes.

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