The Kiss (1896)
Release Date

The Kiss (also known as The May Irwin Kiss, The Rice-Irwin Kiss and The Widow Jones) is an 1896 actuality, and was one of the first movies ever shown commercially to the public. The film was directed by William Heise for Thomas Edison. In 1999 the short was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.


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The film is around 47 seconds long, and depicts a re-enactment of the kiss between May Irwin and John Rice from the final scene of the stage musical, The Widow Jones. The film caused a scandalized uproar and occasioned disapproving newspaper editorials and calls for police action in many places where it was shown.

Public ExposureEdit

The Kiss was projected in West End Park, Ottawa, Canada, on July 21 1896, and was long thought to be the first movie publicly shown in Canada. However, the competing Lumière Brothers Cinematograph had already exhibited different films in Montreal on June 27 1896 (Gaudreault & Lacasse 1996).


  • André Gaudreault and Germain Lacasse (1996). "The Introduction of the Lumière Cinematograph in Canada," Canadian Journal of Film Studies, Volume 5, No. 2.
  • The Big Book of Porn, Seth Grahame-Smith, pp 15, ISBN 1-59474-040-2

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