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Kansas Saloon Smashers (1901)

Reenactment of Carrie Nation's saloon smashing in Wichita.


Edwin S. Porter


Credited cast:
Carrie Nation Carrie Nation ... Self




A gilded saloon, with a fancy bar, forms the background. A nobby bartender with white coat and apron is dispensing drinks to customers. Behind him are polished plate glass mirrors. A comical Irishman enters, sets a huge pail on the bar to be filled, and while he is drinking a glass of foam beer, Mrs. Nation and her followers enter with their hatchets. One of the women jams the Irishman's stiff hat down over his eyes and another one douses him with his own pail of beer. They then wreck the saloon and smash the mirrors, bottles, cash register and bar fixtures. The bartender plays a stream of seltzer water on Mrs. Nation, and as she backs away from behind the counter, a policeman enters and hustles everybody out. Full of comedy from start to finish. Written by Edison Catalog

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short


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Edited into Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America (1997) See more »

User Reviews

So realistic, you'd swear it was real....not.
27 June 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

About the turn of the twentieth century, Carrie Nation was a self-appointed morals policewoman whose duty was to destroy "demon liquor". Her m.o. was to walk into bars wielding a hatchet and she'd tear the place apart. Well, this was big news but the problem was that with this and other cool news stories (such as the execution of the man who murdered President McKinley), there was no live film footage--and the public was clamoring for it. So, studios staged the events again and actually claimed to have real footage. Today, it all looks obviously fake and cheesy (like this film) but back in those days, people often fell for it. Or, even if they didn't, it was a nice way to dramatize the events.

This film is only a minute long--finishing in less time than it might take to read this review. Before the actress playing Nation comes in, you see some people at a bar. One is a very stereotypical Irishman and when Nation appears, she tosses his bucket of beer on him and begins wrecking the place. At the end, as the police are leading her away, you see one of the coppers trip in the beer on the floor--probably not staged, but back then when mistakes like this took place in these mostly unscripted films, they just left it in and hoped no one would notice.

Overall, a pretty typical recreation for 1901. For a much more interesting film, see the parody (also by Edison Manufacturing Company) entitled "Why Mr. Nation Wants a Divorce"--showing the poor husband of Carrie Nation stuck at home with the kids while his wife is out "saving the world".

By the way, this film is part of a DVD set entitled "Treasures III"--a set of four DVDs all about social issues and reform. The second disk (where you'll find this one) is about women's issues in particular.

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Release Date:

16 March 1901 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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