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Unidentified Photographer: Dreamland. Silver-gelatine print, circa 1912 (?)
"Dreamland" was a popular attraction at Coney Island, and the name was adopted for small cinemas like this one in several communities. A partial title can be read on the movie posters to the right of the arch: "Woman Always-------."

The film may be The Abyss, released in the U.S. in 1912 under the title Woman Always Pays. It was the first movie starring the Danish actress Asta Nielsen, of whom Greta Garbo would say "she taught me everything I know." Unfortunately, Woman Always Pays was savagely cut by American censors, who excised Nielsen's erotic dance sequences.

This is a wonderfully complex photograph. On the surface, it's a straightforward frontal record of a small business and its proud proprietors. On another level, the figures seem to be blocking the entrance to this promised land of dreams.


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Source for information on Woman Always Pays: "Asta Nielsen" by Gary Morris in Bright Lights Film Journal

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