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Police harass peddlers: CopWatch 1903

Online: YouTube

Edison summary: In certain sections of New York City large numbers of Jewish and Italian push-cart venders congregate so closely along the sidewalks that they interfere with traffic. Policemen keep them moving. The picture shows how the frightened peddlers hurry away when a bluecoat appears. Some of the carts are piled high with fruits of all kinds, and it is interesting and amusing to see the expressions of combined fear and anxiety on the faces of the men as they hurry away; the fear of being arrested if they stand, and of losing some of their wares if the carts strike an obstruction in the street. Very fine photographically.

Although the age and condition of the print precludes any viewing of the faces mentioned in the summary, an aggressive style of policing is clearly evident - and helps to explain the later popularity of The Keystone Cops comedies, surely a cathartic release for many viewers.

It is also apparent that at this stage cinema was marketed to ethnic and economic demographics that would find the "fear and anxiety" of "Jewish and Italian push-cart venders" to be "interesting and amusing". The nickelodeon, which broadened the demographics of viewers (to include even "Jewish and Italian push-cart venders") did not appear until 1905.

Some titles are listed in both Edison and Lubin catalogs - but not this one. It would be interesting to see how the catalog of the studio owned by the Jewish immigrant Siegmund Lubin would market this film...