Dienstag, April 06, 2010

Coney Island Videos

Kapitel 241

Die goldenen Zeiten auf der Vergnügungsinsel am Südende von Brooklyn sind schon gut hundert Jahre vorbei, aber erfreulicherweise sind noch zahlreiche Photos und auch Filme erhalten geblieben. Einige habe ich in den vergangenen Jahren schon hier vorgeführt, nun ist es Zeit für ein paar "neue" bewegte Bilder aus Coney Island.

Eines der schönsten Exemplare unter den Coney Island-Filmen ist sicherlich der Film "Rube and Mandy at Coney Island" aus dem Jahr 1903, produziert von Edisons Filmgesellschaft. Ein Paar probiert darin die Attraktionen des Steeplechase Parks und des Luna Parks aus. Einen umfassenderen Eindruck vom klassischen Coney Island kann man eigentlich in dem Umfang nirgendwo bekommen.

Hier ist der 107 Jahre alte Film in drei Teilen:

August 13 1903. Edison Manufacturing Co.
Filmed at Coney Island and Edison's 21st Street studio in New York, New York
cinematography by Edwin S. Porter

This is the longest of the Coney Island films from the Edison Company. It was directed by Edwin S. Porter, Edison's top director. Compared to most 'actualities' of the period this could be considered an epic. It is entertaining and also serves as a great document of Coney Island in its first modern renaissance. No doubt this film was aimed at promoting 'Baghdad by the Sea.'

South of Brooklyn and nine miles from Manhattan Rube and Mandy arrive with the cart before the horse at George C. Tilyou's 'Steeplechase the Funny Place.' To do it right the fun has to begin with a ride on the famous Steeplechase of course! A minute later they're riding the 'bulls.' Mandy does a graceful dismount while her beau Rube...well, lets just say Rube dismounts too. Together, they try their skills on the rope bridge where once again Mandy displays a grace that Rube just can't seem to match. They take a ride on the 'Down and Out' next where very few can maintain dignity on departure (2:40). And it's off to 'Luna' we go.....

In 1902, songwriter Warren R. Walker wrote about what to expect ''At the Steeplechase.''
I went to Coney Island, the funny sights to see....
I paid a dime admission, and saw the funny stairs /
I walked up to the top and / It almost turned my hairs.../
At the Steeplechase, at the Steeplechase, /
It cost me but a dime, But you'll have a good time.

The scene opens with a nice panoramic sweep of Luna Park next door to Steeplechase where at 0:24 we see the 'Electric Tower' before the 'Shoot-the-Chutes' (see video ''Shooting-the-Chutes'' 1903'), followed by a view of the miniature train coming out of the tunnel loaded with passengers.

Our hero and heroine appear on the grounds as they decide what to do next. A really short ride on an Arabian camel and another royal dismount! [1:29] Along the Court of Honor they stop at Professor Wormwood's Monkey Theatre, where we see the man himself engaged in attracting prospective patrons with his trained dogs. Rube misbehaves; he just cant seem to keep from agitating Professor Wormwood. ''Hey, don't touch the dog!'' Smack! ''Let's get out of here!''

August in New York is always hot, making the water rides like 'Shoot the Chutes' one of the more popular rides at Coney.

For those who like their water rides a bit more subdued there's always the canal [1:00]. And for folks who like a good pile-up, a swift slide down the bamboo 'Helter Skelter' is a good way to meet others.

Then there's the Honky-Tonk of the Bowery! The Barkers on the Midway like it when people get together too! The ballyhoo never stops. ''Step right this way and see 'Little Egypt' do an exotic belly dance! She learned her gyrations well from years of handing snakes...Gentlemen step right this way! Only 10¢, Step right this way!'' Rube thinks the invite enticing but Mandy doesn't think so. Feats of strength, that's the deal. ''Knock it hard and bang the gong. Show 'em what ya got! Win a Cee-Garrr!'' Mandy has more than Rube in the muscle department. If she didn't then he'd be watching an edifying belly dance right now. She also has better coordination too! BANG! 400! Not enough for a cigar though. Rube can barely lift the mallet, so he gives it a reluctant but valiant try anyway. SWISH KLUNK! Must have been the beer we didn't see him consume. They both seem a little inebriated. All of the excitement has these two hungry for something to eat and nothing's better than a couple of frankfurters...Hot Dogs...Red Hots...Coney Island Caviar! What a Gal! What a Rube! What a day!

Ein zusätzlicher Film, ebenfalls aus Edisons Schmiede, zeigt den Luna Park auf Coney Island in seiner ganzen Lichterpracht:

An excerpt from the four minute short ''Coney Island By Night.''

''Beside the million incandescent lamps which make the enclosure at nighttime the brightest spot on the whole terrestrial sphere, there is the Kaleidoscope Tower where 80,000 electric lights go through as many changes every second. These lights take the form of fifty different geometrical effects, which in turn go through 1,100 changes before they repeat. The tower is the only thing of its kind in existence, and is in many ways the most extraordinary electrical display ever made.''
- Luna Park souvenir program (Library of Congress)

''I have built Luna Park on a definite architectural plan, I have eliminated all classic, conventional forms in its structure, and taken a sort of free Renaissance and Oriental type for my model, using spires and minarets whenever I could. . . . . It is marvelous what you could do in the way of arousing human emotions by the use that you make, architecturally, of simple lines! Luna Park is built on that theory, and the result has proved the theory's truth.''
- Fred Thompson

Ein weiterer später entstandener Film zeigt zwei Attraktionen des Steeplechaseparks: das mechanische Pferderennen und das Blowhole Theater:

In diesem Tonfilm aus dem Jahr 1936 "besucht" ein Schimpanse namens Shorty das Vergnügungsareal von Coney Island und probiert die Attraktionen dort aus. Mein Favorit ist die Sequenz, in der der Aap während des laufenden Betriebs an den Gondeln eines riesigen Kettenkarussels herumturnt. Heutzutage wird ein solcher Film in der gezeigten Form aus Tierschutzgründen wohl nicht mehr realisierbar sein.

Der nächste Film zeigt Amateuraufnahmen aus Coney Island, die im Frühjahr 1944 gefilmt wurden.

Zum Schluss noch ein Film mit historischem Material von der nicht mehr vorhandenen Achterbahn "Bobs", später "Tornado" genannt.

The "Bobs" was one of many thrilling roller coasters that existed during the 1920's at Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. Later renamed "Tornado", the coaster met it's fate in 1977 when it partially burned. It sadly never reopened. I do not know who took this video clip. It was one of many that I have had on an old VCR tape for many years. It is only posted here for all us You Tubers to enjoy a glimpse of the past.

Eine Zusammenfassung zu weiteren und teilweise schon früher hier gezeigten Filmen über Coney Island findet man hier:

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