Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Newsreels… and Fakes

 

It’s forgotten today, but movie audiences of the Thirties were already entertained by the futuristic, soon-to-come possibilities of seeing distant news events as they actually happened. And they already knew it would be misused. Television news would be faked, in comedies to illicitly run up a TV company’s stock price, or in drama, to maliciously broadcast fictional “truth” to panic the public into avoiding the act of voting during a crucial election. They saw all this coming more than eighty years ago, theaters full of people who hadn’t yet seen so much as one TV screen in their entire lives.

Just about everyone born in the twentieth century still knows what newsreels are, or were, a long time ago: ten minutes of narrated news clips shown in theaters, part of a weekly program of novelties shown in between the movies, including coming attractions and a color cartoon. Mussolini, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Hitler were each, in their way, masters of the newsreel cameras. It’s the main way the world outside their countries came to know them, and the reason we know their images so well today. Newsreels existed even in silent days, but it was sound that gave them influence and power, above all the sound of the spoken voice. Their 1930-‘55 newsgathering traditions, even the film crews, and camera equipment were passed on to the new field of TV news.

I’d like to introduce you to a pair of B movies, hour-long cheapies made by Republic Pictures, once John Wayne’s home studio for Westerns. First up: Exiled to Shanghai (1937), whose alternate title was the more relevant-to-us News Is in the Air, is breezy, screwball Thirties all the way, part of a once-thriving line of fast-talking, wise-cracking Hollywood workplace comedies about newsrooms, salesmen, detective squad rooms, and courtroom reporters on the Death Row beat. The leading man is Ted Young, a jaunty, popular newsreel reporter. He’s top dog in New York’s colorful mob of macho cinematographers of the streets, who, we are told, will take any risk to get a story on film.

In the background of the story, you get an idea of how rushed and industrialized the newsreel process had to be in order to rush something onto 400 coast-to-coast movie screens every week. New news film came off trains and steamships and was rushed to the labs. Film editors cut the picture in negative to save time. Music scores weren’t composed; they were taken from a small collection of cliché stock themes on 78 rpm phonograph records, lined up to instructions as terse as “20 feet, Lindbergh kidnapper in court. 20 feet, Leaves for jail. Music zing at 35”. The narration was written and recorded while the film was still being edited.

When it was done, a film printing machine could make a copy every ten minutes. The first ten copies were developed and each of them was taken to their own copy machine, each used to make 40 more copies overnight. As each batch of those 400 copies emerged, wet from the lab, they were trucked to Railway Express, the FedEx of its era, which could reach most American towns within two to three days. Theater chains booked trucks to take the metal cans of newsreel film from the depots directly to the theaters. It was a miracle of organization.

But dashing reporter Ted Young discovers to his chagrin that very soon, that days-long delay won’t be fast enough. The men of Worldwide Newsreels, Inc. face a new challenger, the ambitious boys of Supreme Television Company, who can put the news on the air instantly, just like radio but with all the pictures of a newsreel. After being bested by a double-crossing rival at Worldwide, Ted moves on over to Supreme, where he’s welcomed as a star. There’s a typical Depression-era madcap subplot about Nancy Jones, a lovely, innocent country girl who wins a Supreme Television slogan contest and gets mixed up with Ted.

He’s got an idea of how to solve TV’s biggest (real) technical problem of the time, the limited broadcasting range of high frequencies that can’t “bend” beyond the horizon. That zany wag suggests a chain of relay stations kept aloft in blimps. What a card! With Ted Young on board, Supreme’s Wall Street bosses are pumping the stock, fattening themselves up for a big payday.

But they’re concealing a big secret: Their TV cameras don’t work well outdoors yet, and they have no way to get the signal back to headquarters. Ted Young discovers that news events are “covered” by running faked film. Supreme almost got away with it, too, until they broadcast a routine zeppelin landing on May 6…well…did I mention it was 1937? You really have to hand it to Republic Pictures for integrating real news into the plot of the film so quickly.

The disconsolate hero-turned-goat flies to San Francisco to board a slow boat to China, when a radio telegram tells Ted that the crooks are in jail and he’s been vindicated. (He’ll later find out that his “wacky” TV relay via blimps idea works, and will probably make him a millionaire). He catches up with Nancy’s train, does an aerial transfer, straightens out all the misunderstandings, and wins her hand. All in a minute or two. Oh, and the title? As the picture ends, we see what purports to be the first live combat footage broadcast from Shanghai during the Japanese invasion of China. The hapless reporter under fire is Ted’s old rival at Worldwide.

Two technical notes: Unlike most Thirties films about TV, the cameras here are real, the same Farnsworth type used at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. And Ted’s aerial relay scheme was actually used on a limited basis in the Fifties as “Stratovision”, done with planes instead of blimps. Eventually, microwave links and coaxial cable would finish the job.

Two years later, Republic Pictures made another fast-moving, low-budget B movie about the imminent arrival of TV news, and its potential to deceive, S.O.S. Tidal Wave (1939). This time, though, the tone was much grimmer. The previous Halloween, Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater of the Air broadcast a famous dramatization of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, covering it as if it were an actual news event. Despite clear warnings and reminders at station identification, it caused a celebrated national panic among audiences too dumb or frightened to understand what was going on. At the time, the CBS radio broadcast was said to have caused suicides, and scores of fatal accidents with jittery speeding drivers fleeing nonexistent Martians. Those stories were later debunked. But when S.O.S. Tidal Wave was released in 1939 they were widely believed and fresh in peoples’ minds.

Most of the film is a straightforward Depression melodrama about a crooked big-city political machine pitted against high minded, good government crusaders. This was a Hollywood cheapie with some thrills and a few interesting ideas, not a “message picture”. There’s the usual skullduggery about waterfront thugs cracking skulls and blowing up newspaper offices. Jeff Shannon is a pioneering New York TV newsman, another graduate of newsreels who’s moved over to the small screen. His friends urge him to use his news broadcast to expose the corruption behind the politicians running the city.

From a 1939 viewpoint, there’s nothing futuristic about this world, no flying cars or lightning bolt tunics. Except for one small thing: every place there’d be a radio in 1939, there’s already a TV set. A little screen in the parlor for grandma and grandpa, in the nursery, or tucked into the corner of a barbershop or soda fountain; a big luxurious TV in a penthouse or a street display, and a more formal one in an office or a classroom. In real life, it would be another fifteen or twenty years before TV was everywhere like this, even in the wealthy USA. But that ubiquity is an important element in the story.

At first, Jeff refuses to air the damning facts because it would be offensive, unprofessional, and improper for a broadcast reporter to express a personal political opinion. Finally, he relents and goes on the warpath. He puts together filmed proof of criminal activity at the very top of state and local government. His election day broadcast is disrupted by thugs who broadcast fictional scenes of a massive storm and tidal wave as if it were real, terrifying viewers and spreading panic. Polling places are empty as frightened people take shelter or flee. Hundreds of people are killed by accidents and other effects of mass fear during the election fraud.

It’s a Thirties movie. The bad guys lose. The good guys eventually triumph. The laws are changed. Rest assured, when TV does finally reach your living room, nothing like this could ever happen.

So what happened with the real newsreels? In the golden age of Hollywood, they were done to a ten-minute formula: a minute of a big news event, like a presidential speech or a highway opening. A minute of college marching bands. Overseas gets a minute, two if war breaks out. Baseball or football. Bathing beauties of Waikiki, or water skiers of Florida. A whimsical look at a sack race. A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion. All rather neutral stuff, politically, and most of it requiring access from its subjects. It was not a formula for skeptical or probing news coverage. The early years of TV news followed that path. “Recently, President Truman shook hands with the poster child of this year’s campaign against infantile paralysis. A moment in the spotlight for a brave little fellow”.

Even by the late Thirties, there was a different strain of non-fiction filmmaking beginning to stir. Time-Life, a mid-century publishing giant, produced a monthly film documentary series called The March of Time, running about half an hour, three times the length of a normal newsreel. Ironically, it’s remembered now mostly because of a smart parody of it called News on the March, a newsreel segment of Citizen Kane (1941). Time-Life brought political attitude, in their case a strongly pro-capitalist, elite conservative attitude. Only mildly anti-union, at least on the surface, clearly anti-lynching, and totally pro-immigration, to most people they didn’t come across as right-wing. Democrats and others in the left frequently denounced The March of Time as Republican propaganda, but these programs were enormously popular in theaters.

This would become the fork in the road for TV news: facts or opinions? At seven o’clock, depending on where you were, you got straight news, at least in theory, the equivalent of the old newsreels. But in prestige, prime time timeslots, the likes of CBS Reports, NBC White Paper, and later, 60 Minutes would pursue the path of The March of Time, presenting cases to shape public opinion about segregation, sharecropping, organized crime inside labor unions, campus protests, automation, teenage pregnancy, or the nation’s puzzling and troubling new drug problem.

They were liberals of their times, and they were crusaders. No doubt some did see themselves in the heroic pose of George Reeves in the era’s The Adventures of Superman. “And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way”. But if suddenly transported to 2020, I think that most of them would probably be as baffled and disturbed by some of the biases of today’s media as you or I are.

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  1. Arahant Member

    Gary McVey: They were liberals of their times, and they were crusaders. No doubt some did see themselves in the heroic pose of George Reeves in the era’s The Adventures of Superman. “And who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way”. But if suddenly transported to 2020, I think that most of them would probably be as baffled and disturbed by some of the biases of today’s media as you or I are.

    It’s a room without walls, an ocean without shores. There is no place to issue a firm stop.

    • #1
    • September 29, 2020, at 2:16 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. KentForrester Moderator

    Gary, you’re wonderfully talented at these little history lessons. They’re coherent and chock full of telling details and surprising nuggets of history. 

    I always learn from them. So thanks. 

    • #2
    • September 29, 2020, at 3:11 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Gary, you’re wonderfully talented at these little history lessons. They’re coherent and chock full of telling details and surprising nuggets of history.

    I always learn from them. So thanks.

    On the contrary, thanks for reading!

    • #3
    • September 29, 2020, at 3:19 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Gary, you’re wonderfully talented at these little history lessons. They’re coherent and chock full of telling details and surprising nuggets of history.

    I always learn from them. So thanks.

    I love them too😀 coincidentally I’ve been enjoying the 1930’s very much recently in film and TV drama

    • #4
    • September 29, 2020, at 4:27 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Bill Nelson Member

    Television news grew from radio news and newspapers. Recall that many papers had both a morning and afternoon edition.

    • #5
    • September 29, 2020, at 4:38 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. David Foster Member
    David FosterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Very interesting post.

    “Their TV cameras don’t work well outdoors yet, and they have no way to get the signal back to headquarters”…I have wondered about remote camera operations in the days before satellite links…they had these tall antenna mounted on trucks–but it seems like in urban settings, there often would have been a building in the way of the microwave line-of-sight back to their base station.

     

    • #6
    • September 29, 2020, at 5:07 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Gary, you’re wonderfully talented at these little history lessons. They’re coherent and chock full of telling details and surprising nuggets of history.

    I always learn from them. So thanks.

    Yup. This one is definitely a keeper. As was the last one. And so on. Maybe there should be a menu tab where we can go to look them up. 

    • #7
    • September 29, 2020, at 5:21 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Gary McVey: This would become the fork in the road for TV news: facts, or opinion? At seven o’clock, depending on where you were, you got straight news, at least in theory, the equivalent of the old newsreels. But in prestige, prime time timeslots, the likes of CBS Reports, NBC White Paper, and later, 60 Minutes would pursue the path of The March of Time, presenting cases to shape public opinion about segregation, sharecropping, organized crime inside labor unions, campus protests, automation, teenage pregnancy, or the nation’s puzzling and troubling new drug problem.

    It’s interesting to look at the last days of the newsreel, which made it all the way past the 1964 presidential election, since ’64 is sort of considered the first presidential election of the modern TV news era, in that certain reporters (but not all) made no secret of their antipathy towards Barry Goldwater and the Republican ticket.

    Universal, which held out the longest, devotes the first part of this clip to an extended excerpt from an LBJ speech castigating Goldwater’s stance on nuclear weapons, while the Republican candidate only gets a voice-over from Ed Herlihy (best known later for his Kraft food commercials). But unlike how things would be later, it’s not a leading or sneering VO, with loaded words designed to make you think negatively of the character. For a number of TV news journalists even by ’64, that was probably considered hopelessly naive and retro, since as Bill Moyer’s ‘Daisy’ ad showed, the nation would be destroyed if Goldwater won the White House.

    • #8
    • September 29, 2020, at 6:00 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Judge Mental Member

    Gary, if you haven’t seen it already, you should look for a 1948 TV series called Crusade in Europe, a 26-week, half-hour show based on Eisenhower’s book of the same name. (It was re-released in the early Naughties as Battle in Europe, because by then it was politically incorrect to say crusade.)

    Most of the WWII and Hitler footage you’ve seen on the History Channel started out in this show, except they have since censored the majority of it out of existence as being too shocking for TV. In 1948, they weren’t the slightest bit interested in sanitizing anything that had happened, so there are real firing squads, Molotov cocktails hitting German troop trucks with a dozen flaming guys jumping out, and so on. Most memorable for me were the dead German soldiers, frozen into the positions of their death throes, later tossed haphazardly into ditches on the roadside to clear the way for a tank advance. They seem to land in any orientation except the one in which they originally froze, creating miles long, horrifyingly hilarious tableau of death.

    • #9
    • September 29, 2020, at 7:32 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The March of Time was not just a newsreel. It was also a radio program, one of the most expensive of the era and ran from 1931 to 1945. Journalistically it was, shall we say, questionable. It wasn’t just a presentation of the news, it was a dramatization of it. An army of then-relatively unknown actors would portray and imitate newsmakers in vignettes based on articles in the current issue of the magazine.

    Although several actors would portray him, they say the best FDR imitation was by future Jackie Gleason sidekick, Art Carney. Roosevelt was peeved with the program as he would often get blamed for things that he didn’t say in public. The White House complained and he was the one newsmaker that they had to cease portraying. Still, the “journalists” at Time didn’t exactly object to this play-acting in their name.

    David Foster: I have wondered about remote camera operations in the days before satellite links…they had these tall antenna mounted on trucks–but it seems like in urban settings, there often would have been a building in the way of the microwave line-of-sight back to their base station.

    In the earliest days, and I do mean early, cameras were horrible in natural light. But what they did do well was being part of a telecine, that is putting film on the air by bouncing the projected light on to a mirror that’s pointed back to the lens of the TV camera. For the 1936 Olympics German engineers placed film cameras on the top of trucks, the film shot down a shaft in the roof directly into a developer where it was run wet through the projector and then televised on the Nipkow system on Deutscher Fernseh-Rundfunk. It was mechanical in nature and only had 180 scan lines, or 1/10th the resolution of modern TV. This was the perfect solution and as a consequence there are hours and hours of Nazi television that survived the war. It is mostly dull and stilted but the film source is there.

    It’s hard to believe now, but the need for live news cameras was unknown before 1976 when RCA introduced the TK-76, the world’s first handheld broadcast quality color camera. It weighed almost 20 pounds without the lens or battery and the 3/4″ U-Matic tape deck you needed to carry around was another 30lbs. All told the first ENG packages cost $100,000. That’s the equivalent of $400,000 today.

    Now, of course, reporters are issued a $700 laptop, a 5G transmitter card and an iPhone and often told that they’re on their own.

    • #10
    • September 29, 2020, at 8:26 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. Jon1979 Lincoln

    EJHill (View Comment):

    The March of Time was not just a newsreel. It was also a radio program, one of the most expensive of the era and ran from 1931 to 1945. Journalistically it was, shall we say, questionable. It wasn’t just a presentation of the news, it was a dramatization of it. An army of then-relatively unknown actors would portray and imitate newsmakers in vignettes based on articles in the current issue of the magazine.

    Although several actors would portray him, they say the best FDR imitation was by future Jackie Gleason sidekick, Art Carney. Roosevelt was peeved with the program as he would often get blamed for things that he didn’t say in public. The White House complained and he was the one newsmaker that they had to cease portraying. Still, the “journalists” at Time didn’t exactly object to this play-acting in their name.

    FDR portrayed as Ed Norton would have made the newsreels more re-watchable in later years.

    • #11
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:00 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. DonWatt Coolidge

    There is something to remember about newsreeel footage from the 50’s and before. Almost all footage of any news event was shot by a silent, wind-up film camera. Recorded sound was the exception, not the rule.

    Understand that when you watch any documentary from WW2 or before, the sound was added later. And while most producers are faithful to the spirit of the footage, the added sound isn’t contemporaneous. When watching, have in the back of your mind that the sound editor, to some degree, is manipulating the experience.

    I do understand that the modern audience wouldn’t watch the original silent footage, much in the same way it no longer would watch a silent movie. As an aside, I had a professor point out that people will tolerate substandard video quality, but when the sound goes bad, the channel gets changed. I think that’s true.

    • #12
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    The March of Time was not just a newsreel. It was also a radio program, one of the most expensive of the era and ran from 1931 to 1945. Journalistically it was, shall we say, questionable. It wasn’t just a presentation of the news, it was a dramatization of it. An army of then-relatively unknown actors would portray and imitate newsmakers in vignettes based on articles in the current issue of the magazine.

    Although several actors would portray him, they say the best FDR imitation was by future Jackie Gleason sidekick, Art Carney. Roosevelt was peeved with the program as he would often get blamed for things that he didn’t say in public. The White House complained and he was the one newsmaker that they had to cease portraying. Still, the “journalists” at Time didn’t exactly object to this play-acting in their name.

    David Foster: I have wondered about remote camera operations in the days before satellite links…they had these tall antenna mounted on trucks–but it seems like in urban settings, there often would have been a building in the way of the microwave line-of-sight back to their base station.

    In the earliest days, and I do mean early, cameras were horrible in natural light. But what they did do well was being part of a telecine, that is putting film on the air by bouncing the projected light on to a mirror that’s pointed back to the lens of the TV camera. For the 1936 Olympics German engineers placed film cameras on the top of trucks, the film shot down a shaft in the roof directly into a developer where it was run wet through the projector and then televised on the Nipkow system on Deutscher Fernseh-Rundfunk. It was mechanical in nature and only had 180 scan lines, or 1/10th the resolution of modern TV. This was the perfect solution and as a consequence there are hours and hours of Nazi television that survived the war. It is mostly dull and stilted but the film source is there.

    It’s hard to believe now, but the need for live news cameras was unknown before 1976 when RCA introduced the TK-76, the world’s first handheld broadcast quality color camera. It weighed almost 20 pounds without the lens or battery and the 3/4″ U-Matic tape deck you needed to carry around was another 30lbs. All told the first ENG packages cost $100,000. That’s the equivalent of $400,000 today.

    Now, of course, reporters are issued a $700 laptop, a 5G transmitter card and an iPhone and often told that they’re on their own.

    There’s a certain bittersweetness to the success of the TK-76, because IIRC it was RCA’s last successful TV camera. After being a television pioneer for half a century, they had to yield their place to Ikegami. 

    ENG news looked different than its 16mm predecessor (duh) but more than that it had a different feel. The color range was limited but brassy. It was one of the novelties of the disco era. 

    I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that TV stations would not have risked expensive ENG equipment on the street riots of 1964-72 even if it had been available. 

    • #13
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:41 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Very interesting post.

    “Their TV cameras don’t work well outdoors yet, and they have no way to get the signal back to headquarters”…I have wondered about remote camera operations in the days before satellite links…they had these tall antenna mounted on trucks–but it seems like in urban settings, there often would have been a building in the way of the microwave line-of-sight back to their base station.

     

    That microwave dish was aimed at the RCA building. It’s a surprisingly contemporary looking picture, taken nearly 82 years ago. 

    • #14
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DonWatt (View Comment):

    There is something to remember about newsreeel footage from the 50’s and before. Almost all footage of any news event was shot by a silent, wind-up film camera. Recorded sound was the exception, not the rule.

    Understand that when you watch any documentary from WW2 or before, the sound was added later. And while most producers are faithful to the spirit of the footage, the added sound isn’t contemporaneous. When watching, have in the back of your mind that the sound editor, to some degree, is manipulating the experience.

    I do understand that the modern audience wouldn’t watch the original silent footage, much in the same way it no longer would watch a silent movie. As an aside, I had a professor point out that people will tolerate substandard video quality, but when the sound goes bad, the channel gets changed. I think that’s true.

    Basically, yes. Most newsreels, pre-TV, were shot silent. In the early Thirties, you needed a sound truck (in the jargon of the day, a “Movietone wagon”) to record sound, making the operation as cumbersome as photography had been back in the Matthew Brady era. So it tended to be reserved for things like the opening of Congress, or a speech from the White House. 

    Newsreels were 35mm. After a very brief period, TV news would be 16mm. There was only one 35mm camera that could also record its own sound, the Wall camera from the UK. Far more popular were 16mm Auricons, a stodgy, rather heavy and bulletproof news camera that recorded the sound on a magnetic strip at the side of the film. 

    • #15
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:50 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: This would become the fork in the road for TV news: facts, or opinion? At seven o’clock, depending on where you were, you got straight news, at least in theory, the equivalent of the old newsreels. But in prestige, prime time timeslots, the likes of CBS Reports, NBC White Paper, and later, 60 Minutes would pursue the path of The March of Time, presenting cases to shape public opinion about segregation, sharecropping, organized crime inside labor unions, campus protests, automation, teenage pregnancy, or the nation’s puzzling and troubling new drug problem.

    It’s interesting to look at the last days of the newsreel, which made it all the way past the 1964 presidential election, since ’64 is sort of considered the first presidential election of the modern TV news era, in that certain reporters (but not all) made no secret of their antipathy towards Barry Goldwater and the Republican ticket.

    Universal, which held out the longest, devotes the first part of this clip to an extended excerpt from an LBJ speech castigating Goldwater’s stance on nuclear weapons, while the Republican candidate only gets a voice-over from Ed Herlihy (best known later for his Kraft food commercials). But unlike how things would be later, it’s not a leading or sneering VO, with loaded words designed to make you think negatively of the character. For a number of TV news journalists even by ’64, that was probably considered hopelessly naive and retro, since as Bill Moyer’s ‘Daisy’ ad showed, the nation would be destroyed if Goldwater won the White House.

    Trans-Lux was a company that operated newsreel theaters in big cities. That’s right, nothing but newsreels, from the early Thirties until the late Sixties. Somehow a handful of them survived the onset of TV. I visited the one in New York once, circa 1966, not long before it closed.

    The one in Manhattan was right outside of a major train station, so my guess is it was a place where commuters could hang out while waiting for rail connections. One obvious advantage of a newsreel theater compared to a regular one was you could enter or leave at any time without missing any “plot”. 

    Later, Trans-Lux became identified with a totally different product, the pre-LED, LCD flat display screens used at stock brokerages to display price quotations. An unusual small-to-midsized company in the unglamorous industrial inner suburbs of show business, it’s celebrating its 100th birthday in 2020, a rare film tech enterprise that, over the decades, developed some creative interests (It usually goes the other way around).

    • #16
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:56 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):

    Television news grew from radio news and newspapers. Recall that many papers had both a morning and afternoon edition.

    It’s forgotten today, but newspapers expected to soon be faxing their papers overnight. At the end of the war, it was expected to be a big a deal as the TV business. 

    • #17
    • September 29, 2020, at 11:58 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Gary, if you haven’t seen it already, you should look for a 1948 TV series called Crusade in Europe, a 26-week, half-hour show based on Eisenhower’s book of the same name. (It was re-released in the early Naughties as Battle in Europe, because by then it was politically incorrect to say crusade.)

    Most of the WWII and Hitler footage you’ve seen on the History Channel started out in this show, except they have since censored the majority of it out of existence as being too shocking for TV. In 1948, they weren’t the slightest bit interested in sanitizing anything that had happened, so there are real firing squads, Molotov cocktails hitting German troop trucks with a dozen flaming guys jumping out, and so on. Most memorable for me were the dead German soldiers, frozen into the positions of their death throes, later tossed haphazardly into ditches on the roadside to clear the way for a tank advance. They seem to land in any orientation except the one in which they originally froze, creating miles long, horrifyingly hilarious tableau of death.

    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll look for it. Censorship of really really unpleasant stuff varied. The armed forces had very little avoidance of Japanese or German atrocities (as opposed to censorship for security purposes). Civilians were shielded but not right away. Americans were stunned at the concentration camp footage. We finally saw what we’d been fighting. Very little of that was seen again for decades. 

    • #18
    • September 29, 2020, at 12:14 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gary McVey: I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that TV stations would not have risked expensive ENG equipment on the street riots of 1964-72 even if it had been available.

    But you know something? They would be welcomed today.

    Remember the NPR reporter who was arrested and slightly manhandled in Portland? That happens because reporters are no longer technologically advanced from the people they cover. It was more unlikely for a photog to be mistaken for someone with nefarious intentions when you had a camera on your shoulder the size of a toaster oven. (Especially those ugly orange-sided Ikegamis.) Stick an iPhone in a cop’s face and you take your chances!

    Edit: These things were beasts!

    • #19
    • September 29, 2020, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. Judge Mental Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that TV stations would not have risked expensive ENG equipment on the street riots of 1964-72 even if it had been available.

    But you know something? They would be welcomed today.

    Remember the NPR reporter who was arrested and slightly manhandled in Portland? That happens because reporters are no longer technologically advanced from the people they cover. It was more unlikely for a photog to be mistaken for someone with nefarious intentions when you had a camera on your shoulder the size of a toaster oven. (Especially those ugly orange-sided Ikegamis.) Stick an iPhone in a cop’s face and you take your chances!

     

    Particularly with the agitators claiming to be press.

    • #20
    • September 29, 2020, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    • #21
    • September 29, 2020, at 2:59 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DonWatt (View Comment):

    There is something to remember about newsreeel footage from the 50’s and before. Almost all footage of any news event was shot by a silent, wind-up film camera. Recorded sound was the exception, not the rule.

    Understand that when you watch any documentary from WW2 or before, the sound was added later. And while most producers are faithful to the spirit of the footage, the added sound isn’t contemporaneous. When watching, have in the back of your mind that the sound editor, to some degree, is manipulating the experience.

    I do understand that the modern audience wouldn’t watch the original silent footage, much in the same way it no longer would watch a silent movie. As an aside, I had a professor point out that people will tolerate substandard video quality, but when the sound goes bad, the channel gets changed. I think that’s true.

    A minor pet peeve of mine: atomic test footage where the soundtrack is edited to match the flash of the explosion. Unless the camera and microphone happen to be, say, a half mile from ground zero, not a smart proposition, any telephoto photography of the blast will be far enough away that the slower speed of sound will mean the flash and the sound are separated. If the cameras are five miles away, still too damn close but survivable, that’s a 30 second sound delay. 

    • #22
    • September 29, 2020, at 3:50 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… Contributor

    Gary McVey: A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

    I’d sort of like to see that. Not boxing; how are you going to punch out a metal man? but a more general man vs. robot competition. From what I’ve seen out of Boston Dynamics the robots are advanced enough to make it interesting, if still a foregone conclusion. 

    • #23
    • September 29, 2020, at 4:42 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

    I’d sort of like to see that. Not boxing; how are you going to punch out a metal man? but a more general man vs. robot competition. From what I’ve seen out of Boston Dynamics the robots are advanced enough to make it interesting, if still a foregone conclusion.

    A robot might have a decent outside jump shot, but they stink at setting pics.

    • #24
    • September 29, 2020, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… Contributor

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

    I’d sort of like to see that. Not boxing; how are you going to punch out a metal man? but a more general man vs. robot competition. From what I’ve seen out of Boston Dynamics the robots are advanced enough to make it interesting, if still a foregone conclusion.

    A robot might have a decent outside jump shot, but they stink at setting pics.

    I was thinking more Star Trek gladiatorial combat. Pit man’s creativity and adaptability against superior armor, strength and stamina. We could even start the robots out against Shatner so they’re not too outclassed.

    The main problem I have with this idea is what happens when the man loses. 

    • #25
    • September 29, 2020, at 5:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

    I’d sort of like to see that. Not boxing; how are you going to punch out a metal man? but a more general man vs. robot competition. From what I’ve seen out of Boston Dynamics the robots are advanced enough to make it interesting, if still a foregone conclusion.

    A robot might have a decent outside jump shot, but they stink at setting pics.

    I was thinking more Star Trek gladiatorial combat. Pit man’s creativity and adaptability against superior armor, strength and stamina. We could even start the robots out against Shatner so they’re not too outclassed.

    The main problem I have with this idea is what happens when the man loses.

    That reminds me of an interview that George Halas gave after he retired. The interviewer asked him who was the best running back he had ever seen.

    “Bronko Nagurski,” Papa Bear shot back.

    “How many yards a year do you think Bronko could get?”

    “Somewhere between 600-750 a season.”

    “Gee, that’s not really all that good.”

    “Son,” George said, “you have to remember … Bronko is 82 years old.”

    • #26
    • September 29, 2020, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

    I’d sort of like to see that. Not boxing; how are you going to punch out a metal man? but a more general man vs. robot competition. From what I’ve seen out of Boston Dynamics the robots are advanced enough to make it interesting, if still a foregone conclusion.

    A robot might have a decent outside jump shot, but they stink at setting pics.

    I was thinking more Star Trek gladiatorial combat. Pit man’s creativity and adaptability against superior armor, strength and stamina. We could even start the robots out against Shatner so they’re not too outclassed.

    The main problem I have with this idea is what happens when the man loses.

    Regrettably, YouTube doesn’t have this episode in full, but the opening gives an idea–

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYTcKk4gwyA&ab_channel=gmt3010

     

    • #27
    • September 29, 2020, at 6:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. kedavis Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Freelance Philosop… (View Comment):

    Gary McVey: A scientist claims a robot will be the next world heavyweight boxing champion.

    I’d sort of like to see that. Not boxing; how are you going to punch out a metal man? but a more general man vs. robot competition. From what I’ve seen out of Boston Dynamics the robots are advanced enough to make it interesting, if still a foregone conclusion.

    A robot might have a decent outside jump shot, but they stink at setting pics.

    I was thinking more Star Trek gladiatorial combat. Pit man’s creativity and adaptability against superior armor, strength and stamina. We could even start the robots out against Shatner so they’re not too outclassed.

    The main problem I have with this idea is what happens when the man loses.

    Regrettably, YouTube doesn’t have this episode in full, but the opening gives an idea–

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYTcKk4gwyA&ab_channel=gmt3010

     

    How about this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUMVl1FABTw&t=104

    • #28
    • September 29, 2020, at 7:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVeyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    • #29
    • September 30, 2020, at 2:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Bill Nelson Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Bill Nelson (View Comment):

    Television news grew from radio news and newspapers. Recall that many papers had both a morning and afternoon edition.

    It’s forgotten today, but newspapers expected to soon be faxing their papers overnight. At the end of the war, it was expected to be a big a deal as the TV business.

    FAX was never going to work. It is an expensive technology for the receiver.

    • #30
    • September 30, 2020, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 2 likes