Something Good – Negro Kiss

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What makes this film so remarkable is the non-caricatured representation and naturalistic performance of the couple. As they playfully and repeatedly kiss, in a seemingly improvised performance, Suttle and Brown constitute a significant counter to the racist portrayal of African Americans otherwise seen in the cinema of its time. This film stands as a moving and powerful image of genuine affection, and is a landmark of early film history.
—Dr. Allyson Nadia Field, University of Chicago

According to scholars and archivists, the 29-second film Something Good – Negro Kiss (discovered in the late-2010s) may represent the earliest example of African-American intimacy on-screen. American cinema was a few years old by 1898 and distributors struggled to entice audiences to this new medium. Among their gambits to find acceptable "risqué" fare, the era had a brief run of "kissing" films. Most famous is the 1896 Edison film The Kiss, which spawned a rash of mostly inferior imitators. However, in Something Good, the chemistry between vaudeville actors Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown was palpable.

Also noteworthy is this film's status as the earliest known surviving Selig Polyscope Company film. The Selig Company had a good run as a major American film producer from its founding in 1896 until its ending around 1918. Something Good exists in a 19th-century nitrate print from the University of Southern California Hugh Hefner Moving Image Archive. USC Archivist Dino Everett and Dr. Allyson Nadia Field of the University of Chicago discovered and brought this important film to the attention of scholars and the public.

Something Good – Negro Kiss was added to the National Film Registry in 2018.

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