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!

As a bonus, I have added one or two YouTube links and maybe extra illustrations to these items. Please remember these articles were written in 1999 - many of the items mentioned are sadly no longer available these days!

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Summer 1999 No.98)

Over the years Pathéscope released many hundreds of Walt Disney cartoons on 9.5mm silent. Most were issued shortened to 200foot / 60metres , with extracts of 100foot / 30m, 60foot / 20m and even 30foot / 9m. In some cases it is possible to add bits from the short extracts to restore the full length original releases except for the complete original 300foot / 100m Disney titles. Around 1956 or 1957 Pathéscope even released four 100foot / 30m titles in colour - more details of these appear in an earlier 9.5 magazine.

(The 100foot / 30m 9.5mm colour Disney cartoons were - "Window Cleaners" as "Window Cleaners" & "Donald's Beehaviour"; and "Donald's Camera" as "Donald's Camera" & "Woodpecker Wickedness". ed.)

But did you know that Pathéscope almost issued Walt Disney cartoons in 9.5mm optical sound versions? It seems that around 1957, when they had lost the rights to the Paramount Popeye and Bettty Boop cartoons, they approached Disney to see if there was a chance of 9.5mm sound rights for some of the cartoons. As a test, they produced a sample print of "Donald's Gold Mine". In fact I supppose they must have produced a 35mm triple picture negative and a 35mm master negative sound track. The cartoon was printed complete, no Pathéscope credit, but with the censor certificate and full Disney titles. It had a very good quality (original) variable area sound track.

There must have been at least three copies produced, maybe more. A known copy, in rather poor condition, ended up in the late John Burgoyne Johnson collection, so was presumably sold off with other items when the Buckingham Movie Museum closed. I wonder if any other copies have survived?

Watch "Donald's Gold Mine" on You Tube (with colour and sound!):

(Sorry, this isn't a 9.5mm print!!)

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Autumn 1999 No.99)

Do you ever read the actual title of a film carefully? For years l have written and typed one of the Betty Boop cartoons as "Swat That Fly". Glancing at the title when l Thermofilmed my copy recently I realised that the actual Paramount title card says "Swat The Fly“. Sure enough, checking in American cartoon references confirms the title as "Swat The Fly“. So Pathéscope and subsequent catalogues have all got it wrong. Sorry Maurice T. another update for your Complete 9.5mm Sound Film Catalogue l'm afraid! The sound print of "Murder On The Yukon“ has just "Yukon" as it's title, which comes from a re-issue, so that's probably acceptable. But are there any other 9.5mm films that are wrongly catalogued - perhaps you have spotted some?

l mentioned the 60foot / 20 metre 9.5mm short "
Dance Little Lady" which Pathéscope culled from the 9.5mm sound release T.9780 "Let's Go Crazy" in the answers to the 9.5mm sound quiz in the last magazine. The featured variety act Manley and Austin consisted of a double act where the woman seemed to spend most of her time tripping or falling heavily on her male partner. He was Tommy Manley, born in Burnley in 1909. He toured in circuses until he met the great granddaughter of the famous circus proprietor Lord George Sanger - Florence Austin. They then formed their double act which toured variety halls for many years. Their appearance in “Let‘s Go Crazy" may well be their only appearance on film. Tommy Manley died in 1975.

Now something for the Millennium as they say. Instead of a competition for the Winter issue, perhaps we can have a 9.5mm sound “Top Ten“. l would be very pleased if readers can write to me with their nomination for a best and worst 9.5mm sound film release. The results can be published and maybe form part of my Pimlico 9.5mm sound show in the new year. Send your nominations direct to: Grahame Newnham, 22 Warren Place, Calmore, Southampton, SO40 2SD or E-Mail at Alternatively you can give them to the membership secretary Malcolm Cutmore at the London St. Gabriels meeting when you are there. Films selected for screening would of course only be your best nominated choices.


(from Group 9.5 Magazine Winter 2000 No.100)

First an apology, in my Hazel Ascot piece in the last magazine, I mentioned the Petite Ascots had been cut from T.9313 “Variety Number 1". I can't remember what I intended to say, but they certainly do appear in this 9.5mm sound release, in fact I actually showed part of this print at the BFI in February!

Thanks for the nominations for a best and worst 9.5mm sound film. My own favourite cartoon character, the ever lovely Betty Boop seems to have won, a couple of people suggested any Betty Boop cartoon, but “
Old Man Of The Mountains” got top votes. It's interesting that from my own 9.5mm sound collection, this title clocks the most showings since I have been logging this on my computer film database. Other cartoon titles nominated included “I Heard" (Betty Boop): “Betty Boop & Granpy" and “Brotherly Love” (Popeye). All have excellent musical soundtracks which no doubt explains their popularity.

Two 9.5mm sound features scored equal second place - “
Land Without Music” and “The Glass Mountain". Again the musical content makes these films very repeatable. “Land Without Music”, being a period piece, still stands up well today. Richard Tauber is in excellent voice, we have slick quips from Jimmy Durante, June Clyde is her usual vivacious self whilst Pathéscope did a creditable job with the soundtrack. Prints are fairly easy to find as this title remained in the Pathéscope 9.5mm sound catalogue up to the bitter end. Our Southampton group enjoyed “The Glass Mountain" some time ago. It was released on 9.5mm sound in Dec 1951 at about the time it was enjoying a re-release at the cinemas. Prints are less common as copyright determined it only remain on sale for about 5 years, and at £31 no doubt most people preferred to hire rather than buy.

Other best 9.5mm sound feature nominations included
“Edge Of The World”; “Something In The City”; “Swiss Miss" (Laurel & Hardy); “No Limit” (George Formby) and “Behind The HeadIines" (an E.J. Fancy production nominated for best?). No doubt some of these titles will find their way to the Group 9.5 London Section screenings at Pimlico.

Joint first for worst 9.5mm sound film was “
Below Rio” (a low budget musical short) and “Dangerous Cargo" (a cheap, cardboard set PRC drama). I must tend to agree with these nominations although "BeIow Rio” in my collection does seem to have been shown a few times - perhaps I like to torture audiences a little. Other suggestions for worst 9.5mm sound film included “South Of Panama" (another PRC drama); “Barbers Shop" (a pre-war British comedy? short); “The High Jump” (a rather boring instructional short); “A Day At The Soviet Front" (a Russian WW2 documentary) and “Scrooge” (what?) Personally I rate the 9.5mm sound version of “Scrooge" with Seymour Hicks as an excellent film, but I suppose there’s no counting for taste.

Wartch some musical clips with Rchrd Tauber from my 16mm print of - "Land Without Music" -

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Spring 2000 No.101)

9.5mm optical sound films had only ever been printed by Pathé in France and Pathéscope in the UK, until Novascope in the UK issued two titles in the early 1970s. All these optical sound releases were in black and white. Paul Carnell issued one 9.5mm optical sound colour film, a 50 foot / 15m animated short; titled "Cariolo",

In the late 1950s S.C.I. Pathé in Paris appear to have produced test prints of a 9.5mm optical sound colour release. A French collector recalls it was about 250 metres (900 foot) colour optical sound, a Pathé release, with sound in English!, a documentary about the Grand Canyon. Maybe someone can provide more information.

A Movie Maker magazine of 1973 contained details of a proposed colour cartoon "The Adventures Of Charlie" to be issued in various forms including a 9.5mm colour optical sound version. In the event no copies ever appear to have been printed.

No 9.5mm magnetic sound films were ever issued commercially, until the recent limited releases of colour cartoons, film trailers and cinema tags (that was me folks - Presto Films), although in 1956 Pathéscope issued a couple of two reel black and white mute 9.5mm titles ready for striping and with written commentary. These were SB.30738 "Jordan Valley" and SB.30737 "Holy Year", both probably originating from Pathe News in the early 1950s. However, both in the UK and France a number of collectors have striped mute releases and successfully added the original sound. One problem being that Pathéscope generally made cuts in their silent releases like Disney cartoons, making exact sound synchronisation rather difficult.

Whilst 9.5mm magnetic striping can still be carried out by firms such as EVT, the real problem with 9.5mm magnetic sound films is that relatively few people can show this format, although the latest Buckingham 9.5mm Elf and French Meopta projector conversions are normally available with optical and magnetic playback. (sadly magnetic sound striping is no longer available - gln Nov2019)


  Watch my Novascope 9.5mm optical sound print - "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (orig. "Dixie Days" US 1930) 20July2013  

(from Group 9.5 Magazine Summer 2000 No.102)

Nine-fivers owe a great deal to the pre-war Managing Director of Pathéscope in the UK, a Frenchman by the name of Claude Cabirol, who managed to clinch a deal with Paramount Pictures in the USA for the rights to Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons. Initially there were six Popeyes and six Betty Boops released (also on 17.5mm optical sound) to co-incide with the introduction of 9.5mm optical sound in 1938. A further eighteen titles of each subject were released over the next two years with 200foot (60 metre) versions plus shorter extracts appearing on 9.5mm silent. (Only one Popeye title failed to appear as a silent release - "
The Spinach Overture" - probably because of its total music content). ln 1949, after the war, the rights were renewed until about 1957, but when Pathéscope applied to renew again they were refused - television was consuming any film that happened to be available! Pathéscope were only given a very short time to dispose of remaining prints, leaving 9.5mm optical sound with no cartoon subjects. lncidentally it's strange that in France no Popeye or Betty Boop cartoons ever appeared on 9.5mm.

Watch my 9.5mm optical sound print of "Betty Boop's Halloween Party" -

Watch my 9.5mm optical sound print of a Popeye cartoon - "I Wanna Be A Lifeguard" -

Luckily for collectors, Pathéscope didn't attempt to change the titles of these cartoons (except for a few minor mistakes in catalogues!), leaving the original title cards intact on the one reel releases. Once you have seen the complete films it is quite easy to spot the origin of the little 30foot / 10metre and 60foot / 20metre shorts. All the cartoons had similar credits of ‘Directed by Dave Fleischer‘ and ‘Max Fleischer Production for Paramount‘, although of course various animators worked on each cartoon, including Seymour Kneitel, Roland Crandall, Willard Bowsky, Hicks Lokey and Dave Tendlar.

The voice of Betty Boop was allegedly based on Helen Kane (“The Boop-a-Doop Girl") although this was hotly disputed at law. Originally Ann Little provided the actual voice, later to be taken over by Mae Questel who also dubbed Olive Oyl in the Popeye cartoons. Popeye‘s voice was dubbed originally by William Costello but alter a year or so by Jack Mercer. It's amazing that the Fleischer studio managed to survive for so long producing these excellent cartoons with so much behind the scenes strife. The two brothers who effectively ran the company employed another brother as an ordinary staff member with a lowly salary, and it appears in later years, Max and Dave only spoke to each other through intermediaries or by note! lt would take a whole book to detail the Fleischer story and luckily it has been written. Try to find
"The Fleischer Story" by Leslie Cabarga, published in 1954 and in a revised edition in 1988 by Da Capo Press. New York ISBN-O-306-80313-5.

l have extracted a complete list of the 112 Betty Boop & Popeye titles released on 9.5mm from my computer database which shows Pathéscope reference numbers and release dates etc. You can see this and much more, on my new web-site: at

Finally just a quick mention of the European laws affecting us film freaks of .all gauges. It's that old chestnut ‘weights and measures’ - seems we can no longer sell items in imperial units so out goes the trusty 300foot spool and in comes the 100 metre spool. I kid you not - it's now a criminal offence to use Imperial measurements with fines up to £5000! So beware, that 100foot copy of "Suzanne's Parlour Tricks" you just advertised could cost you dear!

But more of measurements (no just film, not Suzanne!) next time around, when, with our good editor's permission l’ll adjust the title of this section to "Nine-Five Notebook" to allow a widening of the topics covered. (OK yes I've almost run out of 9.5mm sound items for the moment!)

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: 10 November 2019 ..... 95soundsnippets1.htm ..... ©MMXV11 Grahame L. Newnham