Grahame N's Web Pages



from Grahame L. Newnham B.Sc.

Some years ago, I wrote a series of short articles in the UK Group 9.5 club magazine, where I jotted down odd information about the 9.5mm sound film gauge - regarding the film format or films issued over the many years of 9.5mm optical sound . Glancing through back numbers, I spotted one of these articles, so thought it may be of interest to reprint these on my web-site. I hope there are no real whoppers, but please let me know if you do spot any please!

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Winter 1997 No.88 )

I often come across the odd bit of information relating to 9.5mm optical sound films. I thought it may be useful to jot these down and let them form a regular series of short articles. So here we go!

The first 9.5mm optical sound films issued by Pathé-Baby in France in the late 1930s, began with a jolly voice singing the virtues of 9.5mm home cinema:-

               The French original song                          Or in English
               Tra-la-la-la-la                                   Tra-la-la-la-la
               Voici le cine-ma!                                 Here is the cinema
               Le Pathé Sonore                                   The Pathé Sound
               Oui, c'est le Pa-thé-Ba-by                        Yes, it's the Pathé Baby
               Et ce baby-la                                     And that Baby there
               C'est le seul qui soit                            It is the only one that takes care of
               Le cinema chez soi                                The cinema at your home
               Oui! Le cine-ma chez soi                          Yes! The cinema at your home

The films then finished with the Pathé cockerel crowing - not the same as the UK Pathé Newsreels incidentally. After the Second World War, the song was dropped unfortunately, being replaced with a "9.5mm Sonore" (9.5m sound) credit with spiralling background, normally accompanied on the soundtrack by the actual film sound. The Pathé cockerel often still appeared though.

Of course it is easy for collectors to snip off the Pathé singing title. So secondhand French 9.5mm sound prints are sometimes missing this gem. Novascope Films did issue this little Pathé singing title separately on 9.5mm optical sound in the UK during the 1970s. I wonder just how many copies are still around?

Watch an example on one of my French 9.5mm sound films - an American Krazy Kat cartoon MS.70068 "Zizi, Collure D'Affiches"

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Spring 1997 No.89)

The Laurel and Hardy three reeler "Another Fine Mess" released in 1930, apart from being considered one of their better talkie shorts, (it was a remake of the silent "Duck Soup"); is interesting because not only is the sound track rather effective, including various swanee whistles and hooters etc. but the film itself begins with a stage, whose curtains rise to reveal twin girls (Beverly and Betty Mae Crane), who proceed to speak the film credits! One or two other 1930 Hal Roach films also include spoken credits, but are not available on 9.5mm sound.

Now some 9.5mm sound prints of this film, released by Pathéscope sometime in the mid/late 1940s as T.9642, include this spoken introduction, but on later copies this sequence is missing, cutting straight to the introductory 'sub-title'. A close inspection of one of these later prnts reveals the crude splice on the negative where the Pathéscope editor has sliced out this section. Now I well remember Mountain Super 8mm prints getting shorter as more was hacked off the negative to increase their profit margin, but had never realised that Pathéscope were doing the same thing! Maybe in this case, it was done to fit the film more comfortably on a 900 foot / 300 metre spool.

The first few 9.5mm sound film releases in 1938/39 retained their original censor certificates, and these were cut on post-war re-isssues like the Paramount cartoons, but does anyone know of other examples of 9.5mm sound films actually being shortened after their initial 9.5mm release?

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Summer 1997 No.90)

In the early 1950s, Pathéscope announced a short series of one reel (300 foot / 100metre) musical items. One of these, released in October 1952 as T.9712 and titled "The Mad Hatter", features Syd Seymour and his Mad Hatters dance band. They play/murder a few numbers including "It's All OK For The Spring" (vocal by Syd Seymour) and "Melancholy Baby" (vocal by Harry Stanley), but comedy seems the main element of the performance. The film is not identified in Maurice Trace's excellent 9.5mm sound film catalogue (still available from Cecil Cramp at Horsham) but appears to come from a 1936 British musical "Happy Days Are Here Again". This 87 minute feature was produced by Argyle Talking Pictures and was directed by Norman Lee.

The film purports to be a biography of the three Houston sisters and their music-hall singing act. The script was written by one of the three, Renee Houston, who can be seen in the 9.5mm 5 reel sound film release T.9127 "Fine Feathers" (GB 1937), where she sings "I'll Stay Out Of The Picture". She certainly stays out of the "Happy Days Are Here Again" extract on 9.5mm, which only features Syd Seymour's unruly group of musicians.

"Happy Days Are Here Again" was reissued (cut), in 1938 as "Happy Days Review"; and the "The Mad Hatter" clip was released for cinema distribution in 1939. In 1951 DUK Films (our old friend E.J. Fancey), got hold of the rights and the feature was re-issued as "Variety Follies". (The "Mad Hatter" short was number 6 in the series "Variety Follies" from DUK Films released for the UK cinema in 1951). No doubt Pathéscope got the 9.5mm home movie rights at this time in their E.J. Fancey deal. No other clips arrived on 9.5mm sound.

Watch my 9.5mm sound print "The Mad Hatter": 09Sept2013

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Autumn 1997 No.91)

The last 9.5mm optical sound film released in France was GS.70215 "Gendarmes Et Voleurs" (English title: "Cops And Robbers"); on 3 x 900 foot / 300 metre spools. It was originally a 109 minute, 1951 Italian production, titled "Guardie E Ladri" starring Ernesto Almirante, Rosanna Podesta, Alto Fabrizzi and William Tubbs in a drama where a policeman having befriended a villain, is forced to re-arrest him.

It was announced in the December 1957 issue of the S.C.I. Pathé house magazine "Le Cinema Chez Soi" ("The Home Cinema"). No mention seems to have been made that 9.5mm optical sound releases had been stopped and in fact there had been an article in the Oct/Nov 1955 issue of the same magazine explaining how the master prints for 9.5mm sound releases were prepared.

actual 9.5mm film frame

In the UK, Pathéscope released their last 9.5mm optical sound film T.9784 "Doomed Caravan", a 7 reel 1941 Hopalong Cassidy western in December 1959. According to their printing records only 3 prints (one triple-print run), seem to have been produced. It was their last sound film release, mainly because soon after, the Pathéscope (Great Britain) Ltd. company went into receivership and the sound film printers were scrapped.

 Watch "Doomed Caravan" full length on You Tube 

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Winter 1998 No.92)

The 9.5mm optical sound one reel short T.9316 "Harlem Holiday", announced in June 1940 consists of most of the "Cotton Club" sequence from the British Lion 1937 musical feature "Calling All Stars" (released shortened to 4 reels on 9.5mm sound during the 1940s as T.9348). However the Turner Layton song "East Of The Sun" is not the one originally listed for "Calling All Stars", nor does it appear in the 35mm restored version. On closer inspection, this number has a different background, in fact similar to that used for "Ambrose's Big Show" at the end of "Soft Lights And Sweet Music", so it appears the Pathéscope editor got Turner Layton's number from this film instead.

In "Calling All Stars" Turner Layton actually sings "Those Foolish Things", but this doesn't appear on 9.5mm at all. (Clips that do apear on 9.5mm sound are in Pathé Vox Reviews Nos.6 & 7). A full synopsis of the complete film with 9.5mm sources , appeared as an appendix in the Companion to Maurice Trace's 9.5mm sound film catalogue, available at £2 from Cecil Cramp of Horsham. (no longer available - ed. Sept.2017). A full synopsis of the "Calling All Stars" 9.5mm print can be found in my web-site pages - Stars Synopsis.

Incidentally, Buck and Bubbles, who also appear in the "Harlem Holiday" short, were one of the acts to broadcast on the opening day of high definition BBC TV on 2nd November, 1936.

Watch my 9.5mm sound print "Harlem Holiday":

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Spring 1998 No.93)

In the 1935 Jack Hylton musical "She Shall Have Music" (released by Pathéscope on 9.5mm optical sound as T.9136 in October 1939 together with a two reel short T.9350 "Across Europe" a month earlier), is an odd school mistress character who has a crush on Jack Hylton, stows away on their cruise ship and is discovered in the hold playing the cello. The part was played by Gwen Farrar, actually a fine cellist who had studied at the Royal Academy of Music, gaining her L.R.A.M. and won three gold medals.

Born in London on 14th of July 1899, she was the daughter of Sir George Farrar. She played cello with pianist Norah Blaney in the early 1920s, until Norah married in 1928. Gwen then joined the famous pianist and composer Billy Mayerl, who had been with the Savoy Havana Band. With deep voice and eccentric manner , she provided singing, comedy sketches and cello playing to complement his superb piano style.

From all accounts Gwen tended to be a little temperamental, eventually bringiog this very successful and unusual double act to an end. One night, it seems, during a performance at the London Colisseum, disagreeing with a change of programme, Gwen picked up her cello and marched off stage, leaving Billy Mayerl to finish the act alone! Gwen owned two houses, one in Central London where she held notorious parties. She loved fast cars and horse riding, dying prematurely on Christmas Day 1944, aged 45 after a short illness. Incidentally most of her scenes in the film had been cut in the battered version shown on TV some time ago.

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Summer 1998 No.94)


(from Group 9.5 Magazine Autumn 1998 No.95)

Has anyone else noticed a small out of focus dust mark on many 9.5mm sound prints? It generally seems to appear on the bottom right hand side of the picture but sometimes occurs elsewhere. It's easier to spot in a cartoon where there is generally a light background. On some features it may only be visible occasionally. As the 'Pathéscope blob' is dark, I assume it must have been on the image on the actual 35mm triple negative. (Scratches on the negative or dust in the release print contact printer will show up as a white line or mark on the final positive print).

Not currently having duplicate prints of any 9.5mm sound films I can't tell if the offending object was just on one of the three tracks on the triple negative, or before the triple reduction lens and hence on all three negative images.

Intrigued by this phantom 'Pathéscope blob', for the last three weeks I have been logging appearances of it when I run 9.5mm sound films. For example it is easily seen, bottom r.h.s. on "Tomorrow We Live"; "Marry The Girl"; "I Wanna Be A Lifeguard"; "You're Not Built That Way"; "Wreckety Wrecks" and "South Of Panama". My prints of "Cheerio"; "Christmas Day Around The World" and "Pio Pio" are 'blob' free and so was "It's You I Want" till reel 4. Whilst many French 9.5mm sound prints suffer from other problems, none seem to have the 'blob' - so far. In my prints of "Something In The City" and "The Tmid Ghost" the dreaded 'blob' is centre l.h.s.

Running "Things Happen At Night" revealed an all clear till reel 4 when the 'blob' appeared halfway up the l.h.s. of the picture, dissappearing again for reel 7,8 & 9. I wonder what actually caused the problem - a speck of dust, a piece of hair, or did the Pathéscope darkroom suffer a plague of insects, or perhaps the reduction printer operator had a touch of dandruff? I fear we shall never know!

Now I am aware the the 'blob' exists, I am always on the lookout for it! Judging by the number of prints affected, the problem must have existed for years - didn't anyone ever clean the equipment? There's a moral here of course - whether you're filming or showing films, always clean the camera/projector film gate before loading/threading each film charger/spool!

A 'Pathéscope blob' - near right hand side, three quarters down
(the 'blob' is more obvious where the image is moving)

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Winter 1999 No.96)

As this edition should be published around the festive season, I thought a little quiz might be fun. All the questions relate to 9.5mm sound films (English and maybe French), there is a small prize for the first opened entry with all or most answers correct. Closing date at the end of January 1999. Please send entries to: Grahame Newnham, 22 Warren Place, Calmore, Southampton, SO40

1. What Popeye cartoon appears on 9.5mm sound but not on 9.5mm silent?

2. Where can we hear one of Pathéscope's staff speaking on 9.5mm sound? (Perhaps you also know his name?)

3. What 9.5mm sound release has spoken titles?

4. Pathéscope produced 9.5mm sound test prints of a Disney cartoon but it was never released. The title please.

5. Name a husband and wife who appear together in a 9.5mm sound release.

6. From which 9.5mm sound release does the 9.5mm short D30780 "Dance Little Lady" come?

7. What rare 9.5mm sound feature appeared in the British Film Institute's "Missing Believed Lost" catalogure?

8. Where can we see Fay Wray in a 9.5mm sound release?

9. Who was the artist for the Steve The Horse cartoons?

10. Adrienne Scott appears in a number of 9.5mm sound features- who was she?

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Spring 1999 No.97)

First the answers to the Christams 9.5mm sound film quiz:-

1. The Popeye cartoon T.9510 "The Spinach Overture" was issued only on 9.5mm sound, presumably because the story relies on music.

2. In T.9732 "Monsters" (a clip from "Secret Of The Loch"), the commentary is spoken by Edward Brunger - Pathéscope Sales Manager.

3. T.9642 "Another Fine Mess" the Laurel & Hardy three reeler, has its title spoken by two girls, although later prints seem to have had this sequence cut by Pathéscope.

4. 9.5mm sound test prints of the Disney cartoon "Donald's Gold Mine" were produced by Pathéscope, but never issued, because Disney refused permission.

5. Married couples on 9.5mm sound were Richard Tauber & Diane Napier in T.9103 "Land Without Music" and Micheal Denison & Dulcie Grey in T.9697 "The Glass Mountain".

6. The silent short D30780 "Dance Little Lady" comes from T.9780 "Let's Go Crazy", a 1951 comedy/musical variety film written by and featuring Peter Sellars and Spike Milligan. The man and woman knock-about variety act used for the "Dance Little Lady" clip, presumably features Manley and Austin.

7. The 9.5mm sound release on the BFI 'lost films' list was T.9007 "Secret Lives", a 1937 British drama with Brigitte Horney.

8. Fay Wray appeared on 9.5mm sound in T.9101 "When Knghts Were Bold" with Jack Buchanan and also in the French Pathé-Baby GS.70106 9 reel reel release of "King Kong"

9. The Steve The Horse cartoons which were produced , directed and scripted by Roland Davies, who created the Sunday Express "Come On Steve" strip cartoon, credit the artist as Carl Giles, later famous for his Daily Express cartoons. None too successful on their cinema release in 1937, the whole series of six cartoons arrived within a year on both 9.5mm and 17.5mm sound, but as 9.5mm sales were low, prints are now rather rare.

10. Actress Adrienne Scott was actually film producer E.J. Fancey's daughter Adriennne Fancey who now runs New Realm Distributors.

There were two winners for the quiz: Peter Foreman and David Wyatt, who each receive a new 100ft 9.5mm French printed film. Many thanks also to the other entrants - please try again next time!

In previous "Snippets" I promised to mention the three other 9.5mm optical sound films which were printed in the UK after the war, but not by Pathéscope. A nine-five enthusiast Paul Carnell, who had entered a number of drawn-on-film animated subjects, both optical sound and silent in the "Ten Best" competition, released the only 9.5mm colour optical sound film in the mid. 1960s. Entitled "Cariolo" it is 50feet/15metres long and consists of various coloured patterns backed with a few guitar chords and odd clunks etc. drawn onto the sound track. Not exactly entertaining it remains an interesting curio.

Later in the 1970s, two 9.5mm enthusiasts started Novascope which released a good number of 9.5mm silent films. In addition two 9.5mm sound releases appeared in 1972 and 1973.

T.101 was "Uncle Tom's Cabin", a reprint of a very early Pathéscope release not mentioned in the catalogues. It's the American Paul Terry cartoon "Dixie Days" which was also issued by Pathéscope on 17.5mm as "Dixie Days" and 9.5mm silent as M.30167 "Uncle Tom's Cabin". The sound track features many American dixieland jazz standards including "Dark Town Strutters Ball"; "Dixie"; "Swanee River" and "St.Louis Blues", but the treatment of Harriet Beecher Stowe's story would bre considered rather too racist by today's standards.

The other Novascope 9.5mm optical sound release was T.102 "Out For A Duck". This was reprinted from an early French Pathé-Baby 9.5mm sound release MS.80017 "Quand Un Canard" which appears to be a 1934 American cartoon entitled "Scrappy's Expedition". Scrappy and his friend are hunters who have trouble when the animals retaliate. Swans hum "Swanne River", a duck dances to "Strolling Through The Park" and we finish with "Home Sweet Home". Novascope left the French Pathe-Baby 'singing title' intact and just added the English title in front.

Both these prints were made by producing a new 9.5mm negative from an existing 9.5mm print, then contact printing copies on 9.5mm positive stock. Quality was quite good, considering these were very early cartoons anyway. At least one other negative was produced for "The Old Man Of The Mountains" and a few test prints 'escaped'.

Plans for producing new releases on 9.5mm optical sound using special 16mm negatives with the 9.5mm image and sound track where the 16mm image would be normally, ground to a halt when there was trouble with a perforator - 9.5mm sound releases of "Lights Out And The Stars Appear", Flip the Frog cartoons and musical and drama shorts were abandoned.

Many other 9.5mm optical sound prints do turn up from time to time, often on colour, but these are 16mm reperfs with much of the picture missing so as to retain a part of the 16mm sound track. Incidentally, the current new 9.5mm sound releases have a magnetic sound track not optical.

Watch my Novascope 9.5mm optical sound print - "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (orig. "Dixie Days" US 1930)


(The rest of the "Sound Snppets" are found in Part 2)

If you have can add any more information, or spot corrections etc. Please contact me:-

(Grahame Newnham) at: presto @ (no gaps in actual e-mail address)

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Created 12Sept2017 - Last updated: 05 November 2019 ..... 95soundsnippets1.htm ..... ©MMXV11 Grahame L. Newnham