My daughter sent me the following YouTube link, asking, “One of our ancestors, perhaps?”
You never know, but this isn’t my old man, who enjoyed a glass of beer now and again, but was more of a vodka man. This is Tom Green, a comedian in Brighton, England, who appeared in several silent films by G.A. Smith, this one dating from 1897–the earliest days of British cinema.
Indeed, according to an article by Frank Gray on the Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema website, George Albert Smith was lauded late in his life (1864-1959) as “the father of the British Film Industry,” and was made a Fellow of the British Film Academy in 1955.
Such early films were usually limited to about 75 feet of film running through the camera, and hence were rarely titled. This one was alternately called “Comic Face” or “Man Drinking.” It may be YouTube that also decided Tom Green looked old and slapped that title on it. Certainly, Tom is no poster child for Drinking Responsibly, getting pretty silly in the space of four sips and forty seconds.
The clip comes from the British Film Institute archives, which can be accessed at its own YouTube channel.
The big question remains–what beer is Tom Green drinking? I can’t make out the label, but it’s a pretty dark beer that would have been available in a bottle in Brighton in 1897. Let the nominations begin.