While hunting around in the archive, British Film Institute Silent Film Curator Bryony Dixon stumbled upon a short film called The Death of Poor Joe from director G.A. Smith which was released early in 1901 – making it the oldest movie featuring a Charles Dickens character.
Smith’s career began in 1897, and he managed nearly 100 shorts in 13 years. His most famous work might be A Kiss In the Tunnel (which featured a man and woman stealing some time on a tunnel-darkened train for some romance), but the new recognition here might propel the minute-long Poor Joe to the top of the list.
This is especially good timing because, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, because of this year’s celebration of Dickens’s work on the 200th anniversary of his birth. The movie itself features a small crossing sweeper child from the novel “Bleak House,” and it looks appropriately destitute.