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THOSE LITTLE 9.5MM PATHÉSCOPE SHORTS
by Grahame L. Newnham B.Sc.



30foot / 60foot Pathéscope Disney cartoon releases - (from lhs - early closed cassette / 1930s / 1950s spools )

As all avid 9.5mm film collectors know, the Pathé companies issued many silent screen classics on the 9.5mm film gauge, usually in heavily edited versions. Later a range of talkies was issued both in France and the UK, plus mute versions of other talkie releases. However by far the most popular range of 9.5mm films issued by Pathéscope in the UK were those little 30 foot / 10 metre and 60 foot / 20 metre shorts. In the 1920s and early 1930s these appeared (with short notched titles), in the familiar black pressed steel cassettes designed for the early 9.5mm projectors - "Pathé-Baby", "Kid" and "Imp". (An attachment was even marketed for the "200B" to take those closed cassettes). Later these short films appeared with longer running titles on the more common metal, brown bakelite and modern plastic spools. In the 1950s the short Disney releases (probably by far the biggest sellers) were packed in attractive red boxes with an illustration of Mickey Mouse carrying a pile of film boxes. By the number that still turn up regularly, literally thousands of each title must have been sold. The first shorts printed in many languages, came from early French Pathé productions like number 1 in the catalogue "Performing Dogs" and 271 "The Dove and the Ant" a 30 foot / 10 metre cartoon also printed in stencil colour in France.


9.5mm 'closed cassettes' - lhs 30foot/10metre - rhs 60 foot / 20 metre - 1920s to early 1930s

Pathéscope's easiest source for short films was to use a sequence from one of their longer releases - examples like D30313 "Snub's Car" - the best bit from the Snnb Pollard classic "It's A Gift" and D30311 "Redskin Raiders" from the western "Glorious Sacrifice". Bits also came from Disney, Paramount and Felix cartoons. Most 30 foot and 60 foot extracts also appear in the one reel 9.5mm release, but sometimes can extend the longer 9.5mm version. In a few cases, all that remains of a Disney cartoon on 9.5mm is a single 30 foot or 60 foot release. Presumably Pathéscope had some blanket copyright deal with Disney, so why only issue a solitary 30 foot extract from a full length cartoon - perhaps we shall never know!

In the case of comedies, most shorts also appear in the full 9.5mm release, but for example, in the Chaplin SB670 "Shop" ("The Pawnshop" 1916), the sequence where Charlie completely wrecks a customer's alarm clock is missing, but can be restored if one can find the 60 foot short G10331 "Charlie the Watchmaker".


First Pathéscope black metal 60 foot / 20 metre spool - 1930s

In cases where Pathéscope didn't issue a full length version, the only way to create a lomger film is to find the various 30 foot and 60 foot shorts. The Billy Rhodes 1923 comedy "Shipwrecked" appears on 9.5mm as D30332 "The Castaways"; D30336 "The Big Bang"; L30337 "The Turkish Bath" and L30430 "Mighty Mama". The first Our Gang comedy to be made (in 1922), titled "Our Gang" and now deemed a 'lost film', actually turns up on 9.5mm in two 2 x 60 foot notched shorts - G10239 "Big Business" and G10240 "Fickle Flora".

When talkies arrived, an eagle eyed Pathéscope editor must have spotted likely snippets to be issued as silent shorts. Here we find D30333 "The Narrow Squeak" a motor bike sequence from the George Formby musical comedy T.9119 "No Limit". Animal items were always popular with children (who were the biggest customers for these little gems) and we find L39561 "Chimp Charming" snipped from T.9655 "The New Adventures Of Tarzan" and D30186 "Monkey Tricks" snipped from "It Happened In Paris" (SB30170 "The Portrait" on 9.5mm). Laurel and Hardy films yielded things like D30690 "Happy Returns" (T.9715 "Our Relations"), and D30556 "Washing Up" (T.9639 "Thicker Than Water"), whilst the Bing Crosby musical/comedy short T.9341 "Sing Bing Sing" produced D30331 "The Elopers".


Pathéscope 'economy' 60 foot / 20 metre bakelite spools - 1940s?

In the mid 1950s just when silent 9.5mm film releases seemed to have dried up, a new series of silent comedy shorts arrived via a 1952 Adelphi feature "The Slappiest Days Of Our Lives" with items including D30728 "Holding The Dummy" (Billy Bevan); D30751 "Foot Sore" and D30726 "Penmanship" (Laurel & Hardy); D30753 "Tea Time Capers" and D30754 "Ghost In The Post" (both with Stan Laurel). I wonder why the feature itself, didn't come out on 9.5mm sound?


Pathéscope metal 60 foot / 20 metre spools, 1950s

Another useful source of material for short films was Pathé News. I believe Pathéscope had full access to this material at no cost, so many shorts came from newsreel items. We find bits that I remember from my youth such as L30562 "Brumas Polar Maid"; L30548 "A High Tea"; D30461 "U-Boat Pack Returns to Port" and some later 100 foot / 30 metre items such as C30703 "Animals Beauty Parlour" and C30722 "Eve Figures It Out" (almost a glamourr item, featuring dancing girls limbering up and a bathing beauty contest judged by Jimmy Edwards). These 100 foot / 30 metre items were originally issued by Associated British Pathe on 9.5mm, but later Pathéscope took them over for their film catalogue.


Pathéscope 100 foot / 30 metre metal spool - 1950s (badly corroded - damp stored?)

In the 1950s , Pathéscope announced a series of shorts produced by themselves, the first being C30880 "Bea Line to Jersey" (probably filmed by an enthusiast for Pathéscope - there was an article in the Pathéscope Monthly magazine about the trip to Jersey, but the writer was not named) - like many bright ideas this seems to have been a once off!

By 1958 the re-organised Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd dropped the 30 foot 'L' prefix film releases from their catalogue saying demand for these items had reduced. In fact demand for all 9.5mm film releases had dropped as dealers began stocking 8mm printed films. Pathéscope themselves began issuing a series of 8mm printed films and new releases were now catalogued with '8/' or '9/' prefixes dependingg on the gauge. A puzzle amongst those new releases is a 60 foot / 20 metre film - 9/26 "Beautiful Monaco" - maybe 'home-made' or from a Pathé Pictorial.


Pathéscope 50 foot 9.5mm plastic spool - 1957? on
(These nice plastic spools were really 50 foot, so printed films were quite a tight fit!)

The last releases arrived during 1959, including a series of 60 foot 'British Scenes' films from the Pathé News stable, like 9/51 "Royal Ascot" and 9/55 "Henley Regatta" which include a descriptive leaflet in the film box. A few Disney cartoons emerged in 200 foot / 60 metre versions from which 60 foot shorts were culled including 9/64 "Donald's Sidekick" and 9/65 "Donald's Gold Brick" from "Donald's Gold Mine". The last 60 foot short was probably 9/73 "Ducks Diddling" , soon after in 1960 the company went into receivership , it was "The End" for the UK Pathéscope film releases.

 

95flmartpatheshorts/gln/20Jan2020      (Adapted from my article in the Group 9.5 magazine Number 105 Spring 2001)

    

 

Watch one of these little Pathéscope 9.5mm shorts - L.30548 "A High Tea"

Watch one of the earlier Pathéscope 9.5mm shorts - L.39561 "Chimp Charming"

Watch one of the later Pathéscope 9.5mm shorts - 9/26 "Beatiful Monaco" (sorry about the quality of this print!)

Copyright stops me uploading this, but watch - C.30722 "Eve Figures It Out" on the British Pathe web-site

 


 

If you have any more information, corrections etc. please contact me at:-

(Grahame Newnham) at presto @ pathefilm.freeserve.co.uk
(no gaps in actual e-mail address)


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Created 20Jan2020 - Last updated: 02 February 2020 ..... 95flmartpatheshorts.htm ..... ©MMXX Grahame L. Newnham