Saturday, November 26, 2011

Early foot fetish films: As seen through a telescope (1900) and The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903)

These silent shorts are thought to be the first foot fetish films ever made. As seen through a telescope (aka The Professor and His Field Glass) was a British short silent comedy film made in 1900 and directed by George Albert Smith. The story line concerns an elderly gentleman who is watching a young couple through a telescope. When her shoe lace becomes untied he glimpses her ankle as the boy attempts to tie the shoe. Aware they are being watched the young man knocks the old man’s hat off when they eventually pass the street.

The Gay Shoe Clerk (1903) was filmed by Edwin Stanley Porter (The Great Train Robbery ) at Thomas Edison's company in New York on July 23, 1903. The story tells of an amorous young shoe clerk who takes advantage of his customer when her ankle is exposed during trying a pair of high-heeled slippers. Obviously overcome he kisses the flirtatious girl while her chaperon is temporarily distracted reading a paper. Once the chaperon realises what is happening she proceeds to beat the clerk with her umbrella before dragging the girl form the store. The simple storyline demonstrates perfectly it is possible to convey characters' amorous intentions by very simple means, without using explicit material. The audience are also left to ponder was this a chance encounter or a clandestine appointment. The early movie is also notable for its early use of matched shot editing, with a close-up of the customer's ankle and a longer establishing shot used in combination with each other.