Archive: Movies

January 13, 2012

Just as I wrap up some work on “Photobooths in Cinema” for the upcoming show in Lausanne next month, I heard today from a friend about yet another 1928/1929 silent/sound film that seems to feature a photobooth. 

As you may remember, the two earliest films we’ve yet found that feature a photobooth are Pal Fejos’ Lonesome (opened in New York September 30, 1928 and released January 20, 1929), a silent released with added talking sequences shortly after its original release, and Welcome, Danger (released October 12, 1929), originally made as a silent film and then re-edited with added footage as Harold Lloyd’s first talking picture. 

Today, we learned of a third film, The Shopworn Angel, which opened in New York after Lonesome, on December 29, 1928, but was released in theaters a week before Lonesome, on January 12, 1929. The film is mostly silent but was released with two talking sequences, and stars Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll. It’s also not to be confused with the 1938 remake of the same name, starring Jimmy Stewart. 

So far, the only evidence of the photobooth is this lovely photograph, a cropped version of a photo found on the What About Bobbed? Tumblr (where we were directed by our helpful tipster) as well as the Gary Cooper Scrapbook. In the still, we see the booth, complete with not-quite-full front wall, adjustable stool, and flash bulb visible, as Gary Cooper and Nancy Carroll look admiringly at a photograph taken in the machine. I hope to see the film at some point, and see if this scene shows up, to add more to the story of the photobooth in its early days. Thanks to Nancy for the tip!

Brian | 3:48 pm | History, Movies
October 20, 2011

Barbara Kent, one of the last living silent film stars, passed away last week at the age of 103. She starred in films directed by William Wyler and Leo McCarey, and acted alongside such screen legends as Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, and Harold Lloyd. One of her lesser-known claims to fame is the fact that she starred in two of the very first films to feature a photobooth, Lonesome (1928) and Welcome Danger (1929).

In both films, the machine takes a single photo which it returns in a small circular frame; in the case of Welcome Danger, the machine isn’t even really a booth, but still features the same technology and returns the same end product. Of course, the film is a Harold Lloyd comedy, so something manages to go wrong in the process…

October 19, 2011

The contributions seem to be flowing rapidly these days, and this week, we’ve got a varied assortment of new material to call your attention to.

First, a few additions to the otherwise neglected Music section. A Spanish band known as Parking Radio has released an album called Photomaton, with a song titled El Photomaton.

And thanks to a tip from Charles, we’ve added the Biz Markie classic “Just a Friend,” with its lyric, “Come to the picture booth/ So I can ask you some questions to see if you’re hundred proof.”

We’ve finally put a few more TV shows from Europe on the site, contributions we received awhile back but have only now managed to gather and present. First, thanks to Caitlin for telling us about a scene from the UK show Primeval:

And second, we’ve added a page for the European news show Metropolis. We mentioned the show a few months ago, and now have a permanent home for it in our TV section.

We also added another gem of a find from Les Matons: an Italian crime film called Escape from Death Row, a Lee Van Cleef vehicle with a great photobooth murder sequence.

Our In Print section has a few new additions as well. First, thanks to Siobhan for sending us scans from the magazine Oh Comely, which featured an interview with the owner of the only photochemical photobooth in Ireland.

Thanks to Kerstin for tipping us off to a new German photography book titled Photomaton: Frauen Männer Kinder, a collection of 500 photobooth photos taken between 1938 and 1945.

And finally, we’ve heard from Ginny Lloyd, the artist behind A Day at the Races, who has a new photobooth project for which she’s accepting contributions. Here are her instructions:

If you want to participate in the next photobooth book, mail in four photobooth style photos with dialogue bubbles documenting a photobooth performance by November 30th, 2011 to: PhotoBooth Book, PO Box 1424, Jupiter, FL 33468.

For quality control, no electronic submissions please — original photobooth or photobooth like photos only — no copies! No returns. Future exhibitions to be announced to participants. Be sure to use the prescribed format: photobooth style image size and include dialog bubbles.

Steps for submission:

  1. Take/make 4 photos of your photobooth performance.

  2. Put this in an envelope — do not email.

  3. On a piece of paper draw dialogue bubbles for talk, think and/or holler. Make sure you indicate which bubble goes with each photo.

  4. Clearly print your text in the bubble(s).

  5. Add the paper to the envelope.

  6. Mail envelope to PO Box 1424, Jupiter, Florida 33468 USA.

October 15, 2011

We’ve been cataloging and collecting appearances of photobooths and photostrips in cinema for more than eight years now. A few years back, we came across two films from very early on in the history of the photobooth (1928’s Lonesome and 1929’s Welcome, Danger), and we’ve got many films from the 1940s onward — with especially strong representation from the last decade or so. But until this week, the 1930s, the first full decade of the photobooth’s existence, has been missing from our list. 

I’ve always been certain that filmmakers in the 1930s would have been eager to feature the fashionable new invention in their films, but films of the 1930s aren’t the easiest to come across, and until now we hadn’t been able to find any examples of the photobooth in that decade.

I knew that The Long Night was a remake of Marcel Carné’s Le jour se lève, but I hadn’t had a chance to see if the photobooth strip in the later film had been inherited from the original. Indeed it was, and we’ve added Le jour se lève to our list.

Last month, we heard from Les Matons that a reference was made to Maurice Tourneur’s film Samson on the French Wikipedia page for Photomaton, and after some searching, we came across a copy of the film. A beautiful, massive Photomaton makes a few appearances during an early party scene in the film, overseen by a well-dressed young attendant.

Brian | 8:09 pm | History, Movies
October 10, 2011

We’ve got a raft of updates to our Movies section from across the spectrum and around the world. The films range from the 1940s to today, and include a documentary, an action film, a film noir, a comedy, an obscure sci-fi film — even a film that hasn’t even been made yet.

We begin with Antoine et Antoinette, a film by French director Jacques Becker, released in 1947. A romantic comedy about a lost lottery ticket, the film tells the story of a typographer, Antoine (Roger Pigaut) and Antoinette (Claire Mafféi), a Photomaton operator in a department store. The film adds another chapter to the still sparsely populated decade of the 1940s in our list.

Home movies and photobooth photos are key sources in the arsenal of the documentary filmmaker. In Julien Temple’s film The Future is Unwritten, we see Joe Strummer of The Clash in some terrific photobooth shots.

Thanks to Charles for letting us know about a brief, tantalizing photobooth appearance in the Don Siegel late noir The Lineup. This 1958 film has a claim to fame as the only feature film shot in the fully-built Sutro Baths in San Francisco. The baths had been converted to a skating rink by that time. We see Dancer (Eli Wallach) enter “Sutro’s” and walk past a number of great arcade attractions, including two beautiful Model 11 photobooths.

We’ve been looking out for the hard-to-find sci-fi film The Passing (1985), and finally found a copy. Two World War Two buddies take a photobooth photo together in a booth in a 7‑Eleven, in one of two different photobooth appearances in the same film — a first?

Thanks to Jaime, and a tip from two years ago, about the film Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips). The photobooth photo plays a small but important role in revealing a surprising truth as the story unfolds. Carla is played by Emmanuelle Devos, who also makes an appearance in a photobooth in Ma vie sexuelle, and Paul by Vincent Cassel, seen here in the photobooth at Le 104 in Paris. It’s all connected…

We’ve finally gotten ahold of Hanna, a 2011 film from director Joe Wright, which features a brief but important scene with a photostrip. Hanna, living with her father in the woods, looks at a photostrip of her mother, pregnant with her, from before her mother was killed.

And finally, we’ve heard from Sam O’Donovan Jones, who’s working on a “black-comedy/horror” film called Photo Booth. You can find out more about the film on its Facebook page and website. We’ll list the film when it’s finished.

Brian | 7:52 am | Movies
May 30, 2011

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve posted about what’s new on the site, so here it is, a little bit of everything. First, a new booth location, The Long Room in Chicago, a booth we’ve long heard of but hadn’t had an official submission yet. Thanks, Chris.

Next up, a terrific late ’60s German photobooth on film:

Thanks to Les Matons for a tip about a classic Fotofix booth in Anthony Mann’s Cold War spy thriller, A Dandy in Aspic.

The fascinating documentary Marwencol features a brief, passing glimpse of a World War Two-era photobooth photo.

We also caught the photostrip appearance in Joe Wright’s latest film Hanna, after receiving tips from Joe and Raul about it. Once the film is out on DVD, we’ll add it to the site.

For photobooth fans in Florida,’s “Selections 1.1” exhibition is still on display at Karma Cream in Gainesville. We mentioned it back in February and hope some of our readers have had a chance to visit. If not, you’ve still got time, as the show will run at least into June. Again, the show features works by Meags Fitzgerald (Canada), Jena Ardell (U.S.), Verdi Yahooda (U.K.), and Odile Marchoul (Belgium). Thanks to Aran for the update.

Photobooth photos made the news recently, as the priciest example of photobooth art was sold this month: an Andy Warhol work titled “Self-Portrait.” Brett Gorvy of Christie’s provided some background on the piece in an article titled The Birth of Cool: Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1963–1964.

Andy Warhol’s four-paneled Self-Portrait, 1963–1964, is acclaimed in every Warhol monograph and exhibition catalogue as his first seminal self-portrait. It ranks not only as one of the most iconic and enigmatic portrayals of an artist’s own image, but its multi-panel format and use of mechanically-produced photographic imagery are also acknowledged as the most radical advancements in portraiture since Cubism.

The piece, as was reported in the Wall Street Journal, Vending Times and elsewhere, went for $38.4 million, and, as the Journal noted, a “similar self-portrait comprising a single image from this photo-booth series in red sold for $6.8 million, just over its $6 million low estimate.” All in all, not a bad day for the humble 25¢ photobooth.

Also, thanks to Tim for pointing out my appearance on “Jeopardy!” last month. It was a lot of fun, and though I didn’t have the chance to name drop, I did get asked by Alex about my proposal to my wife in the photobooth at the Musee Mecanique .

As you may have noticed, we recently battled our way through another security failure that brought our site to a halt for a few days. We thank you for your patience and for bearing with us as we worked to get everything back in order. As always, please let us know about any photobooth news, location updates, or other stuff you think we’d be interested in. 

March 04, 2011

We’re bringing to a close the series of updates to our Movies and TV listings sourced from IMDb’s keyword system with some mixed results: of the six items remaining on the list, only three seem to yield solid results. If anyone can find the photobooth in A Chipmunk Christmas (1981), Leave it to Beaver (1997), or Wild Tigers I Have Known (2006)—and three more different pieces of work I can’t say I have known—we’d appreciate it. We scanned through each film at least twice and came up with nothing.

On the other hand, we had good, diverse results from three other titles listed: Road Movie, Be With Me, and Aliens Inside.

The late Joseph Strick’s Road Movie features a brief photobooth moment, in which a prostitute picked up a pair of truckers shows off some photos she took in the booth, and then relays a rather depressing story about what happened to her once when she was in a photobooth.

The film Be With Me tells three different fictional stories, one of which involves two girls who get to know each other online. When they meet in person, they go into a purikura photobooth and take some photos.

And finally, Aliens Inside, an Italian TV series. I can’t tell if the video I’ve found online, which is about 30 seconds long and mostly credits, is the full show, but it’s all I was able to find. A man dressed as an alien takes pictures in a photobooth; I wish I knew what was going on here.

So, thanks to these new tips, we’ve added ten new films and five new television shows to our tally. Now it’s time to return the favor and add the hundreds of shows and movies we have listed here into IMDb’s keyword system. I’ll get right on it…

Brian | 5:12 pm | Movies, TV
February 28, 2011

We’ve got a little update to our film listings today in honor of yesterday’s Academy Awards, a short film from France nominated this year in the Animated Short Film category called Madagascar, carnet de voyage. The closing credits of the film feature a number of the production team behind the film in photobooth photos. While the film didn’t win last night, it’s a terrific short and we recommend you seek it out.

Brian | 4:53 pm | Movies
February 27, 2011

We continue to update our movie and television listings with more titles found through the magic of IMDb’s keyword system, and start with a film I’d never heard of, Now & Forever.

Angela (Mia Kirshner) and John (Adam Beach) visit a photobooth in—what else?—a roadside rest stop, where she takes a sad strip of photos in what looks more like a Polaroid booth. He turns around to find her gone, and we see her jumping into a semi truck, taking off with no warning. The photostrip falls to the ground, where he finds it and then, very dramatically, screams to the heavens and drops the strip, which flutters to the ground. Acting!

The IMDb list featured another film I thought we’d already added here: My Sister’s Keeper. This story of a family dealing with leukemia features a brief moment of happiness when the family visits a photobooth on the pier.

And finally, another remarkable find: Wim Wenders’ Summer in the CIty. Wenders is perhaps the king of the photobooth on film; we’ve listed photobooth moments in his Alice in the Cities, Paris, Texas, and Faraway, So Close!. We’re happy to add Summer in the City, his first full-length film, to that list.

Wenders has always been interested in automatic machines in his films, and includes many in this film: cigarette machines, pinball machines, even a visit to an “Automatischer Lebensmittel Markt,” an Automat. The first time I scanned through the film, I didn’t see anything that looked like a photobooth. On second glance, though, I spotted it, a nearly invisible shot in near complete darkness, in this extremely poor transfer. Hanns (Hanns Zischler) takes a strip of photos in the booth, located outside, in the rain. Where does he go when he leaves the photobooth? Into a phone booth, of course.

Brian | 12:37 pm | Movies, TV
February 25, 2011

We continue our survey of movies and TV shows new to us thanks to an IMDb keyword search with a television show that sets a new standard: the earliest appearance by a photobooth in a TV show that we have yet found. Expanding the history of photobooths in TV to a run of more than 50 years, this 1959 episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” utilizes a somewhat aytpical single-shot photobooth. The machine, which produces Photomatic-style photos though without a frame, is located in a bar where David Logan (Clint Kimbrough) meets a sailor, played by the great Clu Gulager, in the episode “Appointment at Eleven.” The use of the booth doesn’t do much in the way of advancing the plot, but we’re excited to have found a link, however tenuous, between the great Hitch and the photobooth.

Next, switching gears more than a little, we’ve got what seems like a haunted or possessed photobooth at a roadside rest stop in the 2003 thriller Octane, starring Madeleine Stowe and Mischa Barton. The movie is pretty forgettable, but does feature a nice little moment when the flash goes off in an empty photobooth, freaking out an already freaked out mom (Stowe) looking for her rebellious daughter (Barton), who’s cast her lot in with some bad, bad folks.

Jumping across the pond to another roadside rest stop, two young protagonists of  Late Night Shopping hop into a photobooth for a combination fight/makeout session, and look lovingly at the resulting photostrip afterwards. For a fake strip, the result isn’t the worst we’ve seen.

And finally, a photobooth scene in a movie we’d heard about but not done anything about, the 2010 re-imagining of The A‑Team. Thanks to Meags for the original tip on this film. Face (Bradley Cooper) pulls Charissa (Jessica Biel) in the world’s roomiest photobooth, where they slap and punch and gouge each other’s eyes out, followed by flirting and handcuffs. The size and scale of the booth is way off, and the sort of widescreen video screen showing each image as the flash goes off is equally strange. Then again, the whole movie is a pretty lame attempt to recapture the good-natured fun of the original series, so it’s par for the course.

More movies and TV shows to come…