#78) Newark Athlete (1891) [Original 2017 Post]


#78) Newark Athlete (1891)

OR “Jersey Boy”

Directed by William Dickson

Class of 2010

This is the original write-up I did for “Newark Athlete”, but please read this revised, expanded version instead. Please, I am begging you.

The Plot: A young man swings two Indian clubs in unison. That’s the entire film. In fact, it’ll take you longer to read this description than it will to just watch the film.

Why It Matters: “Newark Athlete” is one of the earliest American films. It is not only the oldest film on the National Film Registry, but also possibly the oldest surviving American film ever.

But Does It Really?: For the above, absolutely. Beyond that, I got nothing.

Everybody Gets One: Whoever that kid is.

Wow, That’s Dated: Indian clubs (which, it turns out, are actually from Persia).

Other notes

  • This was filmed in Edison’s studio in West Orange, New Jersey, which means that somewhere there’s a nearly identical earlier film shot by Tesla.
  • The weirdness of the athletics combined with the bad film print makes the whole thing look like a scene out of a David Lynch film.


Further Viewing: Here’s 10 easy exercises that you can do with your own Indian Clubs! (Goofy looking goatee not included)

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