Theme Month! October 2014: Welcome to the Nickelodeon


To readers of a certain age, the word “nickelodeon” evokes images of obnoxious orange and lots of green slime. However, the original use of the word meant a cheap theater that showed a selection of short films for a low price. They charged a nickel– thus the name– which is about a dollar in modern money.

These theaters were not seen as proper places for “nice” people and particularly not young ladies but they were instrumental in spreading the popularity of motion pictures as an art. No one quite agrees on when the era started and ended. 1905-1915 is a common rule of thumb. In any case, feature films were the rule by 1915, nicer theaters were springing up and the era of the nickelodeon was over.

This month is all about celebrating these intriguing films. They were responsible for creating the modern film industry. Let’s give them their day in the sun.

I will be updating this page throughout the month but in the meantime, here are some nickelodeon era reviews from the archives:

(Stars include Mary Pickford, the Gish sisters, William S. Hart, Mabel Normand and Charlie Chaplin)

Bad Buck of Santa Ynez (1915)

The Country Doctor (1909)

Friends (1912)

The Hessian Renegades (1909)

Mabel’s Dramatic Career (1913)

The New York Hat (1912)

A Night in the Show (1915)

The Peasants’ Lot (1912)

The Sunbeam (1912)

An Unseen Enemy (1912)

The Taming of the Shrew (1908)

Won in a Cupboard (1914)

I hope you enjoy the trip to a forgotten time in film history!


  1. Todd Benefiel

    It’s funny, whenever I see or hear the word ‘nickelodeon’, I think of the 1976 movie starring Ryan O’Neal and Burt Reynolds. And what’s even funnier is, I’ve never seen the movie! Why this unknown little film should stick in my mind is beyond me…maybe I’m at a certain age between that silent era and the prime of that kids cable network!

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