Grahame N's Web Pages


By the late Gerald McKee

The following excellent article describing the background to 9.5mm printed films issued by the Pathé-Baby company in France and the Pathéscope company in the UK is taken, with grateful permission, from Gerald's book: "A Half Century of Film Collecting" - now sadly out of print.

When collectors get hooked on the 9.5mm cult, their first interest is in the films that are available. As they become more engrossed, they begin to find the fringe topics of 9.5mm films as fascinating as the picture content. But where do you find information on this? Pathéscope provided very little, so one had to rely on personal experience; not easy for the younger collector nowadays, with vintage material getting harder and harder to find. After half a century of involvement, I feel that some of my accumulated knowledge will be useful for collectors.


The first 9.5mm subjects were issued only on closed spools (or cassettes) holding 8.5metres of film, which was all the original Patbé Baby projector was designed to show. These tiny films (Pathéscope in England always called them - slightly inaccurately - 30ft. reels) ran for only 1 minute 20 seconds, if projected at the then, "official" 9.5mm speed of l4fps. With the use of the notched titles increasing the running time by almost any amount, some early factual, notched "30 footers" could run for several minutes if they had many stills and titles. In fact, these were a good read rather than actionful entertainment, though this concept could be useful as a teaching aid, making such reels true pioneers of visual education.

Photographic quality in these early films was generally good. There was a tendency to make the prints fairly contrasty to offset the dim lighting of the projector. Definition was variable, some prints being noticeably sharper than others, while steadiness was consistently good. Occasionally, in addition to the Pathé stencil colour films released, there were a few subjects printed on amber tinted-stock looking like their famous 16mm Kodascope rivals.

The earliest French subjects were usually introduced by a trade-mark title of the Pathé cockerel with Pathé Baby written beneath it, or the amusing Pathé Baby chick just hatched from an egg. The earliest English versions simply had a main title without the preceding Pathé trademark. The inter-titles on some of these 30ft. subjects were printed in a small, not particularly clear, type-face. Far better were the hand-lettered titles in bolder style. Early notched titles consisted of a single frame to be held by the de-clutch mechanism, but were soon superseded by two or three frames when it was found that a single frame could be damaged by heat.

Another characteristic of very early French 30ft. shorts was their sprocket holes (with rounded ends) and the centre spindle of the cassettes slightly different to later versions. By the time the design of the 30ft. cassette and its contents was finalised, the 60ft. cassette was introduced. And with it, a modification to the top spool holder of the PATHÉ BABY projector to take the large cassette; the lower take-up chamber could already accommodate the additional film.

Watch an early 30ft 9.5mm French Pathe print of "The Tamandua" FR 1911 on You Tube -

Once this improvement was available, Pathéscope issued to their dealers a little 60ft. publicity reel Multum in Parvo ("Much in Little"). This covered their range of releases for home shows in brief clips, the best of which was Ruth Roland trapped on the roof of a runaway coach (from the 2 x 60ft. version of THE TIMBER QUEEN) and Gloria Swanson in The Tempest (their 3 x 60ft. version of STATION CONTENT). Parts of this interesting reel were included in John Burgoyne-Johnsons look at 9.5mm history: LIGHTS OUT AND THE STARS APPEAR (1972 - Super8 and video). [ed: The LIGHTS OUT AND THE STARS APPEAR film is available on DVD +R at £7.95 (post paid in the UK) from Grahame Newnham - presto @ (no gaps in actual e-mail address)]

It was not long before some early subjects had to be split into several 30ft. parts to cover a complete story. This led, especially in France, to longer films being released in numerous 30ft. (or 60ft.) parts - an unsatisfactory procedure analogous to the 78rpm gramophone presentation of symphonies being broken down into five minute parts, each equal to the running time of a single side of a l2in. disc. So, we find LE DROIT À LA VIE (Abel Gance) in no less than 24 x 30ft. parts or PECHEURS D'ISLANDE in 12 x 30ft. or 6 x 60ft. parts. The constant rewinding necessary between reels must have destroyed any dramatic impact these films would have had. It's hard to understand how this form of home entertainment ever became popular. This mode of presentation survived in France longer than in England, with many features issued in multiple 30ft. and 60ft. parts, even when 300 ft. reels became available.

All the 30ft. and 60ft. films had the title of their contents printed on the paper label stuck round the circumference of the pressed steel cassette; a strip of paper including the 'Guarantee Band' that sealed the film exit, ensuring that the customer knew he was getting a brand new film. The labels were normally printed black type on a white, yellow or green background. Some French releases had hand written labels in beautiful French 'menu' script. But, for the collector lucky enough to find them, the most interesting labels (only on a few French 30ft. reels) are those printed in silver lettering on a black background - the identification of films in PATHÉ STENCIL COLOUR. New film releases were announced by leaflets. Even the 'Baby Cine' Film Library catalogue was no more than a folded sheet. Pathé of France Ltd. did advertise the "Baby Cine" system in the general press as well as photographic journals.

2. 1927-1929: 9.5mm SUPER REELS FROM JOINVILLE

In 1927, the 300ft.(100metre) so-called 'Super' reel arrived, which in its original notched title form was considered to be equivalent in running time to the standard 35mm reel of 1,000ft.(300metres). The maximum length of a feature (always condensed from the cinema original) was two reels. Catalogue numbers were prefixed S/ for Super.

Some of the first English releases in one reel did not have the Pathé logo on the front, this was superseded by having the main title card with 'Baby Cine (or Super Cine) Presents' above the film's actual title. Its replacement: an attractively lettered "Pathéscope Presents" on a plain-black background, was an improvement. "The End" was invariably in the same lettering style but surrounded by an ornate Art Nouveau border.

The inter-titles of this era were all hand-lettered. Occasionally, they were decorated with little cartoons appropriate to their content; perhaps the best known film with these is The Leghorn Hat, but this was not unique. Some early Our Gang and Harold Lloyd subjects (e.g. A Trip to Paradise) also had decorated titles.

A useful innovation with these new 300ft. reels was to have a printed label gummed to the clear part of the leader, giving the title of the film and - if needed - its part-number.

Printing standards were high. The projected images were notably steady and the photographic quality was remarkable for its high definition and excellent gradation. These images tended to have a warmer tone than those in later releases. whilst it's an insignificant detail, one notices that the actual developing time was written on the film's master and printed on to the leader. (ed: later this was the actual film length, not developing time)

The cellulose acetate base, the factor determining the longevity of 9.5mm prints seems to have been unusually tough at this time. There is less sprocket hole splitting than in later prints. The only noticeable fault, brought about by storage in too dry an atmosphere is that certain films surviving from this era tend to bow or 'cup' due to shrinkage of the base material. I have also seen as a result of this, instances where the emulsion has stripped from the base.

The earliest single 300ft. reels were sold packaged in rather rough corrugated card boxes with the title printed on a label and a 'Guarantee Band' sealing them before sale. The card boxes usually had a card-carrier for the film covering half of the spool, with the film held in place by 'knicker elastic' fitted with a hook mating with an eye on the card. Over the years, the rubber in these bands has perished leaving the cotton remains ineffectively holding the film in place. In some versions of these containers , two half-boxes hold the spool, sliding into an outer sleeve. A strange feature of this packaging was that it bore no mention of the manufacturer's name. Similar packaging was used for subjects in two 300ft. parts; the maximum length at the time. While these old boxes may cause flutters of excitement for the keen collector, they certainly had nothing in the way of customer appeal (apart from their titles) when they appeared on dealers' shelves back in 1927.

The original 'Super' reels supplied, consisted of steel cheeks each with five spokes, painted in black. The aluminium centre, with tongues to hold the film, was rivetted to the cheeks. The actual core was of brass, with two holes in the steel cheeks to connect with the drive spigots, (imitating 35mm practice). These well made spools bore no manufacturer's name, simply 'Made in France' embossed on a cheek.

Towards the end of this period, Pathé commenced the issue of a new series of British productions especially for the British market. Most of these subjects, for which Pathé only held the rights for a short time, were soon withdrawn. Many of these titles are desirable, not just because of their rarity but because they are unusually interesting. Pathé introduced a new set of catalogue numbers for these: '20000' etc. Even here, with their usual inconsistence, the first titles were given '10000' numbers. THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE FLAG LIEUTENANT SB/12058, was the only subject from this series that remained in the catalogue for long.

3. 1929-1933 THE GOLDEN AGE

Pathéscope Factory (North Circular Road, London,UK 1929)

This was the period when features in as many as five 300ft. parts were introduced. Titling for new releases became more standardised. After the aforementioned 'Pathéscope Presents', the main and inter-titles were all lettered in printed type called 'Cheltenham Condensed Bold'. The style was neat but not particularly attractive; certainly not as pleasing as the (stencilled) broader lettering style chosen for the inter-titles in most 35m theatrical prints. One might have thought that the reason for this standardised type was because of the demand for various different language versions of these 9.5m releases. But this does not seem to have been the case. The French Pathé versions had a totally different typeface for their titles.

With the introduction of the more powerful LUX projector, 300ft. reel releases with notched titles were gradually phased out - without any positive announcement by Pathéscope in their own journal! One result of this in longer films was to have superimposed sub-titles; a useful way to save valuable footage. But this technique was not used consistently and many films had an uneasy mixture of separate and superimposed dialogue titles. The catalogue numbers for the new 'running titled' films were pre-fixed SB/ for Super Bobine.

This was the time of the release of most of the UFA and Vitagraph subjects, invariably of excellent print quality. The definition, steadiness and overall photographic gradation were probably the best ever achieved by the Pathé laboratories. The images were of a colder black than those in the earliest super reels, indicating that a different emulsion was used. [ed: by now Kodak Ltd in France, had merged with Pathé's film coating division and all printing (and camera) stock was made by Kodak-Pathé in France]. The base was different, too. Over the years, this has not "cupped" in the way of the first super reels, but well-used prints do suffer from sprocket hole splitting. It is noticeable that some of the sprocket holes had square-cut corners, rather than the (correct) "cushioned" corners. But examination of many prints indicates that corner-splitting can occur with both types.

To celebrate their UFA collection, Pathéscope released another of their rare publicity films: Extracts from the Pathé Catalogue, a selection of well chosen film releases like SIEGFRIED, THE SPY, THE PRISONER'S SONG etc. with other items. It was well presented with animated titles and intercut shots to give this reel the look of a superior trailer. Pathéscope sensibly ensured that its print quality displayed the finest films in their archive at their best. Today, this reel is ideal for giving audiences an impressive view of the heyday of the home cinema.

To identify titles and part numbers on reels, there was a improvement on the paper labels. These were superseded by printing title information photographically on leaders and trailers. Another innovation, and an admission that the notched title idea had its snags, was the provision of a double set of main titles at the start of a film. If the first set became damaged by heat and wear, there was a second set to replace them.

With the arrival of longer features, a superior style of container appeared. This was a blue card box imitating a film can, with the lid completely enclosing the lower part. The title was printed in blue on a label edged with yellow and the 'Guarantee Band' was two labels printed in enlarged imitation of 9.5mm film to seal the film in its box. The manufacturer was fully identified now with a triangular Pathéscope 'Safety Film' label stuck on the lid. Many of the UFA subjects and other important multi-part titles (like LES MISERABLES) were supplied in these attractive containers. Soon, single part subjects were issued in the same form.

Two excellent new spool designs appeared from France. One, bearing the name 'Pathex' was made completely of unpainted aluminium. This lightweight spool with three double-spokes on each cheek, was probably the best of all Pathé's spools. The other design had the two steel cheeks, with three double spokes, bearing the name Pathé and the French 9.5mm logo. The centre was of aluminium with a brass core. An English made version of this also appeared, this having 'Made in England' and Pat. no. 360307 stamped into the steel.

For a brief while, during the changeover from notched to un-notched titles, Pathéscope provided sets of running titles for popular notched films. These were simply spliced in by the customer. To accomodate the extra footage a special 400ft. spool was available to hold a 300ft. notched film with replacement running titles. This had the same appearance as the original five spoked Super Reel but with a slightly larger diameter and smaller centre. It would have made sense for Pathéscope to switch permanently to a 400ft. reel, the correct equivalent to a 1,000ft. 35mm reel; just as 400ft. 16mm and 200ft. 8mm Kodascope reels were. As it was, the 300ft. reel with running titles remained as an awkward, non-standard length, with a silent (16 fps) running~time of 12 minutes.

The simple lists of new releases were superseded by the "Pathéscope Monthly", which first appeared in August, 1929. This new magazine, well printed in sepia ink on cream art paper, gave illustrated details of all the new film releases along with hints for the home movie maker. It was sent free to customers on request. At its time, it was probably the first movie magazine for amateurs to appear in this country. The objective of "Pathéscope Monthly", given in issue One, was "...It will be a great help to readers in making their choice of film". In other words, its prime target was the home projectionist interested in films to buy or hire. In Autumn 1929, the first film catalogue appeared, a bulky 92 pages of synopses of subjects, well illustrated and matching the "Monthly" with its sepia on cream combination.



All the 9.5mm film releases until 1932 were printed in France at Pathe's Joinville factory. Then, the Pathéscope Cricklewood works and laboratory gradually took over the printing of films for Great Britain. Some of the first films printed at Cricklewood were with notched titles, but with the changeover to 'SB' running titles, the output was soon switched exclusively to these. On the whole, printing at Cricklewood was of a high standard, even if not quite matching the outstanding quality of the (post-1927) films from Joinville. Though they were very good photographically, the positive Pathé stock being imported from France, there was a tendency to unsteadiness in some prints. This lack of steadiness could be observed as lateral float as much as vertical movement of the image. Perhaps this slight fall-of in standards was due to the vast call on the facilities at Cricklewood; not only was there the big demand for copies by the expanding number of 9.5mm libraries, but also numerous short Mickey Mouse and Popeye subjects required for the various toy projectors that were appearing.

The films prepared for English release by the Pathéscope Cricklewood laboratories (identifiable by their five figure numbers all prefixed by 30 (e.g. SB/30054 THE WHITE HELL OF PITZ PALU), were often titled in the Cheltenham Bold type. Occasionally - as the masters had titles in English - they retained their original main title cards; for example, the notched versions of THE WRECKER and MOULIN ROUGE, and Hitchcock's THE MANXMAN. In some films, like S/30024 WEEKEND WIVES, certain original inter-titles were retained, giving an odd mixture of these plus the Pathéscope Cheltenham Bold versions. Generally, in the mid-30s, with an increasing number of new British silent releases being mute versions of talkies in English, original main-title cards were retained. In films like SB/30320 NO LIMIT, a mute version of a talkie, specially written inter-titles and superimposed dialogue sub-titles were in a more modern type-style than films prepared at Joinville, usually mute adaptations of French talkie releases, still with the familiar Cheltenham Bold typeface.

Watch the 9.5mm Pathescope 1 reel release of "The Wrecker" GB 1928 on You Tube -

Watch a 9.5mm 60ft print of "The Dippy Do Dah Club" ("The Knockout" US 1923) on You Tube -

From Cricklewood came the excellent new 'Pathescope Presents' with its neat lettering, fading up and superimposed on a background of a super reel and the safety triangle logo, with the whole title sequence fading in and out. The new 'The End' was in plain, bold lettering. Identification was still being printed photographically on the leaders and trailers. British 300ft.(100m) reels were now supplied in another type of blue card container: with a lower section reinforced at its circumference. The label bearing the film's title was printed in blue, with the statement 'Film printed in England', beneath it. The lid had the familiar Pathéscope 'Safety' label, and was sealed with the usual "Guarantee". They are the most familiar of the Pathéscope film packaging of the pre-war years. The actual reels were made in England, still under pat. no. 360307, and had black enamelled steel cheeks with three double spokes as previous designs. The main difference was that the aluminium centre only had a simple slot to hold the film and was fitted to the cheeks by the folded metal tongues often used in toy manufacture. They were remarkably well made spools, light but strong, many surviving over 50 years with no signs of rust. 30ft. and 60ft. films were printed at Cricklewood. These were still supplied in traditional cassettes (projectors like the ACE were designed for them), usually imported from France, though sometimes made in England. For unexplained reasons, these cassettes had different descriptions embossed on their cheeks; 'Baby Film', 'Pathé Baby', 'Pathex' and 'Pathéscope' . These had the title-bands printed in red lettering on a white ground, they were sold in thin-card boxes printed with the familiar Pathéscope triangle logo and the film's title.

At this time, in addition to these longer subjects there also appeared little l5ft. films, printed at Cricklewood and cut from familiar Pathéscope movies, for the various 9.5mm toy projectors that were beginning to appear as the result of the press campaign against the fire risk of toy 35mm projectors. The little cartons for these, printed in red and black for normal subjects, green and black for Disney cartoons, made heavy use of the 'safety triangle' logo in the fight against flammable nitrate film in the home.

Home movie film from 9.5mm chargers processed at Cricklewood was supplied for projection mounted in 30ft cassettes with a plain band indicating they had been processed by Pathéscope Ltd., with space for the film-maker's reference title. In November 1934, the 200ft 'M' reel appeared. This was intended for a new series of silent releases with SB running titles (projection time: 8 minutes) taking over from what had been a popular format: films issued on 3 x 60f t. notched reels. The 'M' reel was also ideal for the full Walt Disney - and later - the Max Fleischer cartoons that were beginning to appear. The first 'M' reels consisted of two cheeks of soft aluminium, rivetted back-to-back, each with a single hole to facilitate the connection of the film. Later, an improved design made completely of black enamelled steel was provided. The 200ft. films on 'M' reels were supplied in simple card boxes. in the same manner as the shorter reels.

In April 1939, the 'O' reel arrived, an open spool of 60ft capacity designed to replace the 30ft. and 60ft. cassettes. It was well made of black enamelled steel, in effect, a miniature 'Super' reel, putting an end to cassettes. With the arrival of 9.5mm sound on film in June 1938, the 300ft reel (with a running time of a mere eight minutes at 24fps ) was retained as the standard unit, underlining what a pity it was that 400ft did not become the standard length after the introduction of 9.5mm running titles.

There was a different method of pricing these sound films. Instead of a fixed price per reel, as there was with the silent releases, the cost of sound films varied according to the total footage. So, for example, amongst the first 23 reels of sound film issued with the basic rate of £2 per 300ft., the two reel short THE SHOW'S THE THING [length 750f t.] was £5 (and must have been a tight squeeze on 2 x 300ft. reels), while the one reel Popeyc cartoon SOCK A'BYE BABY [length 255ft.] was only £1 14s (£1.70) It was the general policy to condense sound features to short versions of four (32 mins) and six (48 mins) reels. For some of these, new main titles were made by Pathéscope; not a popular idea with collectors.

The picture negatives for sound printing were initially made in France, at Joinville. But for the sound tracks, Cricklewood printed by direct reduction from 35m negatives, and prints from these were certainly superior to those from France where sound films were printed from their positive master print to give negative soundtracks, with appalling background noise. Especially designed for the Pathé VOX home talkie outfit was the 900ft spool; actually the French made Pathé '250' spool (250 metres = 820ft.) This was like an enlarged version of the later 300ft. designs, but with a steel centre. It was possible to squeeze 3 x 300ft. reels on it, and films of three reels or over were mounted on these spools. They were sold in larger versions of the blue card 'Cricklewood' containers.

The "Pathéscope Monthly" flourished with its monthly news of releases. It now had an attractive pictorial cover, featuring the release of the month, and bore the information 'Price Twopence', even though in practice, it was posted free of charge to 9.5mm customers, or given away free by cine dealers. It provided essential information for owners of the new VOX sound projector on all the new sound releases.

There were two other innovations promoted by the successful public relations exercise of "Pathéscope Monthly". First was the monthly release of highlights from the bi-weekly Pathé Gazette newsreels, entitled PATHESCOPE SUPER GAZETTE. These started in April/May 1934 and carried on for 64 issues of single mute 300ft. reels until August 1939. Obviously, readership of the PM was essential, if you wanted to know the newsreels' contents. The other development, publicised in the pages of "Pathéscope Monthly" was the free loan of publicity films. In March 1932, the first sponsored 9.5rnm movie. A DAY AT BOURNVILLE was announced, soon this look at Cadbury's chocolate factory was joined by IVORY CASTLES (Gibbs Toothpaste) and PORT SUNLIGHT (Levers Soap). Other leading firms joined the scheme and it remained in operation until the Pathéscope Film Library closed soon after the start of the war. The films available were well produced, often better than the documentaries sold by Pathéscope; much appreciated by young enthusiasts with limited pocket money. I know, I was one of them! From 1933, the bulky green film catalogue appeared in several editions per year.


Not long after the declaration of war, Pathéscope, in 1940, did two things to clear their shelves. They sold off their obsolete 17.5mm film library, as well as other 17.5mm films they had at Cricklewood. Then they disposed of all their remaining stocks of 9.5mm notched titled films, some of them incomplete. After the closure of their Great Marlborough Street showroom, they disbanded their 9.5mm film library.

The buyer of all this Pathéscope stock was Illustra Enterprises, the Wardour Street firm, long established in selling surplus home movie films and equipment. Although in some ways this was a sad move, for the impecunious young nine-fiver it was a heaven sent opportunity to own some of the titles that had appeared so alluring in Pathéscope's bulky, green-covered catalogue.

Along with other aspects of Pathéscope's products, the quality of spools and packaging deteriorated during the war. For a while 300ft subjects were supplied on an extremely nasty spool with cheeks stamped out in the kind of fibre used to make cheap attache cases, and steel centres with too small a diameter (40mm) to be used safely on projectors with super attachments. If used on the most common 9.5mm projector then in use. the ACE with its super attachment, these spools would cause the very kind of damage (ripped sprocket holes) that gave the gauge and the ACE their bad name with library operators! The inept way these incorrectly designed spools were put on the market suggests that the Pathéscope management at that time. did not understand the limitations of the equipment they sold!

30ft and 60f t. subjects were on "open" spools with solid Paxolin cheeks and steel centres, replacing the superior 'O' spool. Later on, 300ft spools having Paxolin cheeks with three stamped out apertures and a steel centre of correct diameter attached by the "toy technique" of bent tabs appeared. These were not too bad; at least the cheeks remained true. A similar - and satisfactory - 900ft. version was also made with this design. Films issued during this period were packaged in flimsy card cartons, with the title gummed to one edge.

Some wartime prints were made on lavender based positive stock from Kodak's Wealdstone works, as supplies from Pathé of France were no longer available. Kodak continued to supply Pathéscope with filmstock until after the war, and the normalisation of trade with Pathé in France. Wartime paper rationing caused the closure of the "Pathéscope Monthly" in March 1941. The green film catalogue was another casualty. The last edition for many years, in 1941, was almost a survey of the great days of Pathéscope; along with the latest talkie releases, one finds remnants of the notched reels still available (which must have been printed many years earlier).

6. THE POST WAR YEARS 1945-1960.

Three years after the war, the editor of "Amateur Cine World", Gordon Malthouse, wrote a hard hitting editorial, - 'The 9.5mm User Asks Some Questions". Tbe essence of this was that 16mm film libraries were outstripping 9.5mm with sound films, which were "star-studded"... "spectacular in range and up-to-dateness". Attention was also drawn to old silent releases. "The lustre of the classics is but little tarnished, but the level of entertainment of which they were the peaks scarcely corresponds with the demands of today". An indignant response from the Managing Director of Pathéscope claimed that they had supplied "more than eleven thousand projectors of various types and over two thousand Motocameras during the past two years. We have printed more film than ever before." Regarding the lack of attractive titles for hire, he explained, "We pride ourselves with the fact that we supply good quality, good entertainment films at the lowest rate for cinematographers... but if full length features are wanted they must pay considerably more for them." In the austerity of these post-war years, Pathéscope's best new releases were mostly sound film releases. The print quality of these was satisfactory where there was good origination, though in the case of some titles (e.g. Charley Chase comedies) where origination was a projection print, the picture quality was inferior and the sound tracks especially noisy. In the case of some features, these were re-recorded for 9.5mm printing using Brent Laboratories' 'glow-lamp' recorder to give variable density sound tracks. Such tracks generally worked better with the haphazard standards of the 9.5mm sound system.

Pathescope Ltd., 970 North Circular Road, Cricklewood, London NW2
factory, offices and film laboratories - "the UK home of ninefive"

Towards the end of the days of the Cricklewood film laboratory, there was an (unheralded) change in the geometry of the printing. Instead of silent releases made for projection with the emulsion facing the screen (Pathe's original standard), the films were printed for projection with the emulsion facing the lamp, (the way in which 9.5mm sound films had always been supplied). Why this sudden change? The answer surely has to be that the existing silent film printing machinery had become worn out, and - with the diminished number of films now required - all printing was switched to the remaining sound film printer. [ed: The more likely reason was that master material was now mostly sourced from 16mm not 35mm as Pathéscope had modified a printer to produce the triple negatives from 16mm material]. This was not a serious move, but another instance of the way Pathescope were prepared to alter standards without notifying the customer.

Picture steadiness on both 9.5mm silent and sound films was not up to pre-war standards. Cricklewood now printed a number of classic pre-war silent releases (like THE SPY etc.) as well as the '30000' series, but with diminished photographic quality. There was an even more serious fall~off in the case of what were then the most popular silent subjects: the Chaplin comedies and some other shorts. Although new main and inter-titles were made to replace the old Cheltenham Bold versions, the actual movie material was duped from worn masters, with noticeable splices used in their repair, printing through to the actual release prints. There was also a serious drop in the standard of processing, due to poor control of the equipment; a problem that was never properly rectified in the latter days of Pathéscope. Customers used to the quality of the pre-war products were disappointed at the fall in the standards from a firm whose output was always highly regarded by amateur cine enthusiasts.

Even though Pathéscope concentrated on sound films, they were not money-makers. Each release was said to lose the company £500; it was only the sale of Disney cartoons to the juvenile owners of ACE projectors that earned profits. At the very end, as few as three sound prints were struck from a master, such was the drop in saleabilty of Pathéscope releases.

As wartime restrictions disappeared, there was a return to the pre-war 300ft. spool design. But these were not made with the finesse of the earlier version. The gauge of steel sheet used for stamping out the cheeks was heavier, and the centres were of steel rather than aluminium. The 'O' reel was eventually replaced by a neat polystyrene one-piece spool with a maximum capacity of 60ft. used both for the shorter releases for the ACE as well as for the return of amateur films processed at Cricklewood. For a while the penny-pinching practice of returning processed films without a spool in a flimsy envelope was adopted, soon changed after complaints from customers. Later there was a neat one-piece polystyrene super reel, followed by two new, strong steel reels (made by Posso in France) in both 400ft.(120m.) and 990ft.(300m.) sizes.

The dramatic fall in popularity of 9.5mm film releases was reflected in the film catalogues, several editions of which were published in the 50s. In 1952 there was a total of 148,065ft. of silent films, 36% of which were dramas (mostly titles originally released in the 30s). By 1958, there was only 52,885ft. with a mere 8% of drama. On the sound releases there were totals of 170,600ft. in 1952, falling in 1958 to 90,900ft; of these the proportion of dramas were 38% and 47%, respectively. There were no longer any sound cartoons, the license for the rights in Popeyc and Betty Boop titles having expired. The fall in interest was matched by the rise in popularity of TV thanks to the introduction of I.T.V. Worse still, films being negotiated for transmission on TV were the very subjects that in earlier days would have reached 9.5mm. Clearly no one was going to pay for 9.5mm films when similar subjects could be seen on the 'box' for no more than the license fee.

"Pathéscope Monthly" made a faltering re-appearance as a simple news sheet, then in November 1949, it returned in its pre-war format, still a free issue. After April/May 1952 it became a bi-monthly. replaced in 1955 by the small format - "Pathéscope Gazette" (now 3 shillings a year!) with a change in policy, "It will cater for the 9.5mm enthusiast, but information embracing all three substandard gauges will be included", stated the editor. Few new films were announced, but it had something for the collector with two series: "The History of the Film Through 9.5mm" by Kevin Brownlow, and "Classics on 9.5mm" by David Gunston. In April 1957, this reverted to the original PM size, but the old style had gone. In some issues the last 9.5mm vintage releases, Chaplin's SHOULDER ARMS, PAY DAY and THE PILGRIM were announced . [It should be mentioned that by now, in 1958, Pathéscope having been bought by an English businessman, the film releases also appeared in 8mm versions - editor]. The final edition of "Pathéscope Gazette" appeared in April 1959. Pathéscope went into liquidation in 1960, and the Cricklewood laboratory/factory was sold. There was no more film printing.

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Last updated 26 April 2013 ........... 95pathe1.htm .............. Grahame Newnham's Web Pages ............ Copyright © MM G.M. McKee
08March2010 Pathescope Cricklewood premises photo added
26April2013 - You Tube film links added