November 5 2011

Part 1 (of 4) of The Story of British Pathé (60 minutes, BBC Four) is on BBC iPlayer until tomorrow. With Andrew Marr and others.

Pathé Frères was established in Paris (Vincennes) in 1896. It quickly went public. It made films and phonograph records and built cinemas. Charles Pathé acquired the Lumière brothers’ patents in 1902. He set up in London in the same year and was soon in other countries. (not a great site) has 90,000 films, mainly newsreels, from 1896 to 1976 for a fee or – with very low resolution – for free. There are a few higher-definition reels on its YouTube channel.

Pathé has been divided up and restructured many times, but still exists. British Pathé did more than newsreels. I’m not sure what it does now other than license newsreels or whether it is connected with the rest of the company.

Pathé’s great French – and international – competitor in the early years was Gaumont. Gaumont British was acquired by the Rank Organisation in 1941 and made its own newsreels.

Movietone (US) produced newsreels in the UK from 1929 to 1979.

Newsreel category at Wikipedia

Newsfilm Online

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