This film is part of Free

A Morning Wash

What larks during the morning wash, swapping bootblack for the soap...

Comedy 1900 1 mins Silent


The 'black and white' comedy is a little subgenre of early cinema in which someone gets covered in flour or soot, soap or boot polish. G A Smith's The Miller and the Sweep was probably the first example in Britain. The black v. white symmetry looks striking on film and probably derives from strip cartoons.

The BFI National Archive has acquired at different times and from two different sources, two original elements for A Morning Wash, which was made by Walter Gibbons and features him (standing on the left) and his collaborator Jack Smith (on the right). The original negative was found in the Mitchell and Kenyon collection, so we can assume that Gibbons was getting prints (not always his own) made at their lab in Blackburn, far away from the prying eyes of the film trade in Soho. He would later get on the wrong side of Charles Urban for pirating films.