Friday, October 19, 2007

Shorty at Coney Island

The classic 1939 short film, 'Shorty at Coney Island' has recently been posted on You Tube. Basically, the film follows a chimpanzee named Shorty as he runs amuck in Steeplechase Park, while the off screen narrator alternately berates his foolishness, and relays his thoughts to the audience. Any Coney Island history buff should check out the film for the footage of Steeplechase. Everyone else should check out just because it's bizarre and wonderful to watch a chimpanzee climb a Ferris wheel.

For those who want to own the film, it's still available on the Coney Island Films Collection compilation DVD [link back to your August 29, 2006 post].

Watching old films like this is great because they really capture the wonder that people once associated with Coney Island. People all across the country would see films like this and know that no matter how humdrum or hardscrabble their lives might be, there was a place in Brooklyn where beauties pranced on the beach, boys shot BB guns, women passed out on Ferris wheels, and chimps ran free.

This is part of the reason the issues surrounding the redevelopment of Coney Island hits such a chord with people. In these sanitized and skeptical times, there is little wonder left. To surrender Coney Island's amusement area completely to the development of condos would be to surrender our collective claim to a world of wonder.

Shorty at Coney Island (1936)

by dutchmazz [YouTube]

- post by
Ben Nadler

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