Title ID 8395Collection ID1188
TitleRival Barbers
CollectionEarly Films
ThemeEarly film in the South East Working Life
KeywordsChildren Everyday Life Shops
LocalBrighton and Hove
RegionalBrighton and Hove
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJames Williamson
DirectorJames Williamson
FormatBlack & White Silent
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


When a barber defaces his rival's sign it is another who is blamed for the offense in this 1906 film by James Williamson.


The camera faces a barber shop front. A barber brings out a sign to hang in front of his shop. It pictures a clean-shaven man and reads "How you look after being shaved here". A rival barber passes by and upon seeing the advertisement defaces the sign, drawing a beard and razor cut onto the shaved face. A young boy laughs when he comes across the sign, beckoning his friend over. A smart gentleman in a top hat joins them in laughing at the sight. When the barber finds them laughing at the defaced sign he assumes the man had defaced the image. The boys run off but the two men scuffle on the street in front of the shop. The barber carries the gentleman inside, wiping shaving foam all over his face. Back outside, the two men continue to fight and the gentleman smashes the sign over the barber's head before running off. The film closes with the barber explaining the sequence of events to his rival.

Related resources


Sopocy, Martin. James Williamson: Studies and Documents of a Pioneer of the Film Narrative n.p. Madison/Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

Date: 1998

Barnes, John. The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894-1901. Five Volumes, n.p. University of Exeter Press

Date: 1996-1998 All five volumes of John Barnes’s archaeological study of early cinema charts its development between 1894 and 1901. Barnes founded the Barnes Museum of Cinematography with his brother William in the 1960s. The collection provided primary material for Barnes’s study of early cinema.

Low, Rachael. The History of the British Film 1896-1906 n.p. George Allen & Unwin

Date: 1949

McKernan, Luke. “The Brighton School and the Quest for Natural Colour” in Simon Popple and Vanessa Toulmin (eds.) Visual Delights – two: Exhibition and Reception. n.p. Eastleigh: John Libbey

Date: 2005

Gray, Frank (ed.) Hove Pioneers and the Arrival of Cinema. n.p. University of Brighton

Date: 1996 Published on the occasion of the 1995 University of Brighton exhibition concerning the work of George Albert Smith and James Williamson. Essays included are by John Barnes, Ine van Dooren, Frank Gray and Martin Sopocy.

Gray, Frank. “James Williamson's 'Composed Picture': Attack on a China Mission - Bluejackets to the Rescue” in Fullerton, John (ed.) Celebrating 1895. n.p. Sydney: John Libbey & Co.

Date: 1998


The Barnes Collection

Location: Hove Museum and Art Gallery Twins John and William Barnes founded the Barnes Museum of Cinematography in the 1960s. After the closure, the early part of the collection moved to Hove. The collection includes cameras, projectors and material relating to the Brighton School of film pioneers.


Location: BFI National Archive, British Film Institute, London Holds many films made by George Albert Smith between 1897 and 1905.

Further Information on File at Screen Archive South East

NFTVA copies kept on file SASE 950000.


Screenonline: James Williamson

British Film Institute site containing biographical information and film synopses.

Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: James Williamson

Biographical overview and further reading.