This film is part of Free

Extraordinary Waiter

Alarming so-called 'comedy' featuring an irate tourist and a recalcitrant waiter in blackface

Comedy 1902 1 mins Silent


This RW Paul film from 1902 describes itself thus: “Scene at a Swiss Railway station. A Tourist being served in the refreshment room by a Negro waiter who will not leave the table. The Tourist picks up his stick and knocks the man’s head off, which rises up again. The Tourist then knocks the man down, and thinks he’s done for him but to his surprise the Waiter comes to life again. An exceedingly funny picture.” Attitudes and tastes change, and this film now looks not just unfunny, but unambiguously and grotesquely racist.

Like The Robber and the Jew (1908) and a handful of other surviving films, it's a reminder that while there's a great deal to celebrate in early British film, it has its objectionable side, too.