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American Experience - Coney Island


List Price: $19.99
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American Experience - Coney Island + Ken Burns America Collection - Brooklyn Bridge + American Experience: New York Underground
Price for all three: $37.10

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Product Details

  • Actors: Philip Bosco, Andrei Codrescu, Vincent Gardenia, Judd Hirsch, Nathan Lane
  • Directors: Ric Burns
  • Writers: Richard Snow
  • Producers: Bob M. McCausland, Buddy Squires, Chas Norton, Eileen Mulvey, Harlan Reiniger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CNEQWS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,880 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Experience - Coney Island" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Before there was Disneyland, there was Coney Island. By the turn of the century, this tiny piece of New York real estate was internationally famous. On summer Sundays, three great pleasure domes--Steeplechase, Luna Park and Dreamland--competed for the patronage of a half-million people. By day it was the world's most amazing amusement park, by night, an electric "Eden".

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
77%
4 star
16%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
6%
See all 31 customer reviews
As far as "Coney Island" goes you'd be nuts to pass this one up.
Harry Vest
It's the most detailed and accurate account on Coney Island's history I've seen.
Jerry
As a child of the 50's, I'm happy to revisit a happy cache of memories.
Love the oldies

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By theadman95 on January 2, 2006
Verified Purchase
I saw this years ago, and still can't get it out of my mind. It is haunting in every way, from the simple up and down single note piano soundtrack to the ageless black and white photos. It has a storyline with a sad ending, and yet is not depressing; it goes somewhere beyond joy or sadness, and yet it contains plenty of both. It is strongly tied in my mind to the American story of immigrants, entrepreneurship, more! more! more! lights and razzle-dazzle, and yet has a coda like a lone clown blowing a sad tune from a Fellini movie. I hope that it will haunt you, too.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By L. M Young VINE VOICE on August 21, 2006
There are nights when I have watched this film twice or three times in a row. Wonderful silent film and still photographs accompanied by Eli Wallach's narration and a haunting score. Return to the days when Coney Island was the latest thing in American amusement. There are no other words besides "absolutely stunning."
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. Hultgren on August 21, 2006
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I highly recommend this installment of American Experience. Between the archive footage, celebrity voice overs and atmospheric sound track it really conveys a sense of what New York life was like at the turn of the century.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andre S. Grindle TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 28, 2008
This is something I remember first watching when I was 11 or 12 years old. It was something my mom wanted me to see because she experienced herself the joys of the (final) years of Steeplechase Park at Coney Island;the human roulette wheel,the blow hole theater,the Nathan's hot dogs;she did it all and all of that is here only more. After watching this I have to admit to myself Luna Park,although it's heyday was at the turn of the century and it burned down 40 years before I was born,looked pretty cool. This documentary shows how a famous beach inspired forward thinking showmen and arcitects to build three amusment parks on Coney Island in the early 1900's;how they provided whimsey,abandon and in some cases cultural stimulation to Americans.At the time Americans were witnessing the end of the Victorian age and the beginning of the modern world-Coney Island blended the two by inventing it's own world that mixed both the reason and morality with invention and industriousness;the perfect mix of old and new. This story becomes bittersweet at the end when Coney Island goes into decline-reason being first one of it's three assmusment parks burning down,the passing and downfall of it's innovators and the fact that the rest of New York (and the country) started catching up fast to the diversions Coney Island offered after WW1. One thing I should say about this is this movie is at least 15 minutes longer then the one PBS originally aired. One whole segment taken entirely from the televised version revolves around how after WW1 Coney Islands two remaining amusment parks began to rely mainly on circus type sideshows,not rides or spectacles to stay afloat.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Samantha Glasser VINE VOICE on January 12, 2008
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Coney Island has become legend. What once was a place for people to gather in excitement and fun is now a hollow ghost of its former self. Still, it is fun to look back on the way it once was during a simpler time in history.

This documentary is extremely well done. The narration is excellent and combines well with the film clips used. The editing is also masterful and helpful to the storytelling. Surprisingly, the film footage is in good condition. Since most of it did not come from a major motion picture, one would think it would be in the same condition as most newsreel footage, but it is clear and watchable. (Ironically, the bit from Clara Bow's "It" is in bad shape; it has since been restored.)

The only major flaw here is the little information provided about the 1920s and 30s. So much is explored from the early 1900s because that is when the amusement parks really took off, but what of the time between that and the collapse? One can get an idea of what it was like based on the film clips, but judging from the bathing suits, most of the clips come from the earliest parts of the century.

Overall, this film is a fascinating look at an era lost to the modern world. It is nostalgic and lovingly told.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ar Adler on June 26, 2007
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For anyone to understand what Coney Island means to people (especially those with a direct connection to the place), they'd have to see this documentary. The legendary amusement parks and their eventual demise is a compelling story of the rise and fall of a universal icon.
In this, the first of Ric Burns' American Experience documentary films, the dynamic of this unique place is captured so well, I can barely watch it without tears emerging uncontrollably from my eyes.
A must see for anyone interested in New York City, the rise of recreation and amusement in America for the new working class with a day off, amusement parks; and most of all Coney Island itself.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By flick chick on November 5, 2006
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this is a fascinating documentary about coney island spectacles before the dawn of the PC era. a brilliant capture of the evolution of one of new york's most intriguing historical landmarks, featuring everything from the advent of the baby incubator, to a village of little people, to the electrocution of a runaway elepahant. my boyfriend and i went to coney island again after seeing it, and it totally enhanced the experience--a must-see for every new yorker, or new york enthusiast.
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