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