This film is part of Free

Women's Rights

A cruel joke at the expense of the women's movement is at the heart of this early film comedy

Comedy 1899 2 mins Silent


What looks like a straightforward (if cruel) practical joke gains an extra dimension when we know the title of this early comedy: this may be the first reference to the women's suffrage movement in film. Characteristically, it's not a compliment. The two gossiping women in their bonnets and shawls are clearly men in drag, while the two workmen scheming behind them hint that the campaign for women's suffrage was seen as a middle-class concern.

These comic characters were lifted directly from music hall sketches and cartoons of the time. Early film was none too concerned with continuity - as you'll soon see if you pay attention to the position of actors and the fence in this three-shot film