Princess Nicotine, or The Smoke Fairy-1909
Princess Nicotine opens on a man who is reading the newspaper. He grabs his pipe, and packs it, all the time yawning. Soon he grows too tired to even smoke, and takes a short nap in his chair. While he is sleeping, the cigar box opens seemingly by itself, and two tiny fairies crawl out, They think it will be great fun to play a joke on the man. The smaller fairy will hide in his pipe, and the bigger fairy cover her up nice and tight with tobacco. The larger fairy hides in the cigar box, and the smaller one sticks her head up out of the pipe. They both wave and laugh. When the man wakes up, he seems jolted. He slides the cigar box back, as if he is thinking, ‘How did that get there?’ He picks up the pipe and starts lighting and smoking, and finds it hard to do! What is wrong with his pipe?
The little fairy sticks her head up, quite obviously thinking this is hilarious. The man dumps the leaves on his table (ewe!) and out crawls the smaller fairy. He is shocked to see the fairy, and uses a magnifying glass to see her. The little fairy knocks on the cigar box to signal the bigger fairy, and the smaller fairy crawls in, laughing and waving at the man, as if it say ‘Goodbye!’
When the cigar box lid closes, the man grabs what he thinks is a fairy arm. He makes a face like ‘Now I’ve got her!’ but he instead pulls out a rose.
He smells it, and when he pulls it away to look at it, smoke is coming out of the flower! He then realizes the fairy is right smack in the middle of the petals, smoking a cigarette, to her apparent delight. The man is finally creeped out, and sneaks away.
Here comes a cool stop-motion scene. The matches go into the cigar box, the cigarette case opens, and the cigarettes also go into the cigar box. This is followed by the empty matchbox and cigarette case, and finally the pipe. When the cigar box moves out of frame, the rose that the man has left lying on the table, minus the fairy in the middle, comes apart and rolls around. Oddly, this creates tobacco from the leaves, eventually rolling a cigar by itself. The cigar band ties itself around for the finishing touch. When the man comes back, apparently cured of his fear, he grabs the cigar, lights it, and seems delighted to see the little fairy again! This time she trapped in a clear bottle. She pantomimes as if to say, ‘I’d be delighted if you’d let me out. I’m stuck!’ The man complies, and with a hammer breaks the bottle to free her in a puff of smoke. Even still, the little fairy mocks the man, and he blows smoke at her, much to her horror. She tries to ward off the smoke. This is her arch nemesis! She begs him to stop as he continues to taunt her. For revenge, she has her last hurrah by burning all of his matches. The man then produces a water spritzer to put out the fire. (Prepared, ain't-ee?) She revels in her cleverness, and the man turns to spraying her, as well, making her slip and roll out of sight. We get the last laugh, though, as he loses control of the spritzer and shoots himself in the process!
This was a delightful little short. At 5 minutes long, it still amazes me how much was said in just a little short, whereas feature length films take over an hour to tell a story. It’s still in very good condition for being over 100 years old. I think this one is special! A must-see. This is also significant in that it was the first instance of tobacco product placement!
This will be where we leave our silent photoplay reviews! Beware of the Spoiler Monster!
3 posts • Page 1 of 1
Good review. I give it a 10, also. It is a clever and unique little gem, indeed. One thing that always bothered me—why does the fairy hide in a pipe that is about to be lit? Especially as she has an aversion to smoke?? Might she not get kind of...charred? Well, I guess nicotine fairies needn't be logical.
Thank you! No, I think they need no logic. They live just to play pranks on sleepy humans!
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)