Dancing with the sound off

Turn Back Time: Not even Cher’s original

Some of the mute clips are often overlooked by visitors to the archive, possibly because Pathé News were so widely known and admired for their narrations, or possibly because we’re all so used to audio when watching video. Yet some of the most marvellous footage in the archive is mute.

There are literally hundreds of examples, but to pick one, take a look at this incredible dance sequence starring Robert Quinault, titled “Bacchanale”

The video is worth watching for June’s headpiece alone! It’s like something from a Cher farewell tour.

A Bacchanale is a dramatic musical composition and so of course it would be splendid to hear the sound to this piece, still – the visuals are just as full of splendour. Some might frown upon Robert Quinault’s ‘ethnic’ make-up for the dance, which makes him look a cross between Aladdin and the Tin Man, but these things have to be looked at contextually.

The video is credited as being “by courtesy of Mr. C.B. Cochran” and so I had a look at who this man is/was…

Charles B. Cochran was a famous theatrical manager and a successful talent scout, spotting and launching the careers of many, including Noel Coward and the likes of The Dolly Sisters.

According to The University of Wikipedia, Cochran died in 1951 after being trapped in a bath of scalding water in his London home!

Auditions for Girl with a Pearl Earring started off badly…

Author: British Pathé

British Pathé holds the world's finest newsreel collection. We also represent the Reuters historical collection. All 220K films are viewable on our website.

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