Last week a lady got in touch with us via the archive’s Facebook page saying that she had discovered a film in our archive of her mother winning the Miss France beauty contest in 1949!
Veronique Tissier’s mother Juliette Figueras won the contest in 1949 before going on to win Miss Europe in 1950 (the contest was held in Sicile, Italy). We are thrilled to say that Juliette lives near Antibes on the Cote D’Azur and is healthy still at the age of 82. You can watch the video by clicking on the image above.
Here are some more recent photos that Veronique sent us of her mother:
Juliette’s sister will be visiting her from the Beaux de Provences soon and so Veronique is going to organise a surprise screening of the British Pathé video for her! Before discovering the video in our free online archive www.britishpathe.com Veronique had no idea that the British Pathé clip even existed and only had photographs of the contest.
If anyone can locate footage or photos of the Miss Europe contest in Sicile, 1950 then please do get in touch. The British Pathé film archive sends its best wishes to Juliette and her family, we hope you all enjoy the surprise screening and enjoy life in the south of France!
There are lots of videos of beauty pageants and contests in the archive, so do have a rummage, you could start with these four videos, or just go to the homepage www.britishpathe.com and start searching!
Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on the US naval base Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack conducted by the Japanese that led to America’s entry into World War 2.
Hollywood movies, books, essays and endless documentaries have been made on the topic of Pearl Harbor, a day that Franklin D. Roosevelt announced at the time “will live in infamy”, and still a hotly-debated military subject today.
However, like all history, nothing is better than watching footage of the actual events themselves if possible. In the British Pathé Film Archive we have a copy of the first newsreel to report on Pearl Harbour, and this footage was later used for a British Pathé documentary series entitled A Day That Shook The World.
This morning, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we uploaded these scenes onto our YouTube channel War Archives. Click on the screengrab above to view it now.
Less than a minute’s footage of the actual surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was recorded, and that was by accident by a local doctor trying out his new camera, but remarkably he managed to capture the blowing up of the Arizona – and so this features in our reel. The rest of the footage was recreated by John Ford in Los Angeles at Fox Studios immediately after the attack. The American War Department directed him to recreate the scene so that it could be issued around the world as a key piece of reasoning in why America had declared war on Japan and entered WWII.
Ford’s original feature was called 7th December and ran eighty-three minutes. However the War Department were worried about showing the full-length film because Ford did such a good job of depicting how unprepared the American troops were for such an attack, and were concerned therefore that the movie might damage morale.
Of course, as with all sensational moments in history, ambiguity gave way to conspiracy and some have claimed that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor never actually happened, or worse still, was conducted by American forces, and was used as a mechanism to trigger and kick-start America’s entry into the war.
To add to the confusion many news groups since, including CNN, have confused the recreated scenes for the real thing.
Pearl Harbor was made into a successful Hollywood film 60 years later, starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
We enjoyed Shortlist’s feature this week on “Britain’s Hidden Architectural Gems” by Simeon de la Torre and were thrilled to see Maunsell Sea Forts in the top slot. Built in 1942 eight miles off the Kent coast in the Thames estuary these six alien constructions were visited by British Pathé in 1944.
The reel is called “England’s 1940s Sea Wall” and gives a good insider tour to the towers, explaining how they were built, the role they played in WW2 and offering some great shots including one of soldiers playing ludo out on one of the top decks!
Over 100 men lived out on these forts, each tower having three floors. Boat trips occasionally give tours too, more information can be found here.
Another hidden architectural gem in Simeon de la Torre’s feature was the Cruachan Dam up in Argyll & Bute, Scotland. We have some lovely videos of this in the archive too, including The Queen officially opening the dam in 1965.
We’ll have a rummage in the archive soon and pull out our own hidden architectural gems. But in the meantime, enjoy these two:
“Italy In Wales” – A lovely 1962 report on the idyllic ornamental village Portmeirion in North Wales, made famous by the cult TV series The Prisoner.
“Hexagonal Houses” – State of the art new homes are built near Coventry in 1964, we wonder if they’re still there today?
We’ve been enjoying Joanna Lumley’s recent ITV documentary series ‘Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey’, and were motivated by it to dig out our own documentary series on Greece. That’s right, British Pathé toured Greece with Sabena airways in the 1960s and recorded about ten detailed travelogues, one focusing on each of the following key places: Rhodes, Athens, the Temple of Apollo, Mykonos, Hydra, Delphi, Thasos, Corfu and Crete.
Not only are these travelogues an important document in that they capture Greece over 50 years ago in colour, featuring some of the first high quality colour footage of that nation, but they are also a brilliant piece of social history – an insight into the 1960s, not only the fashions and decor but also the beginning of something arguably more colossal than any of the temples – the beginning of the tourist industry.
Click on the stills to watch each video. Enjoy the retro swimwear!
‘Island of The Sun’ is an introductory video to British Pathé’s 1960s tour of Greece. It focuses on the luxury airline service (Sabena airlines!) that gives Greece-bound holidaymakers traditional Greek dishes and even dolls. Upon landing we see some scenic shots of Rhodes, the Parthenon and ruins at Lindos.
We are shown a state-of-the-art 1960s Greek hotel which looks rather like a British council flat block, and Pathé focuses its attention on a lady showering and bathing in the hotel pool! At the end of this clip a boy commands a host of black and gold butterflies by whistling, much like the community of whistlers that Joanna Lumley visited in Episode 1 of her documentary series.
We start off with Gaye Ashwood (the daughter of legendary British Pathé journalist Terry Ashwood) walking up the steps of the Acropolis. There some lovely shots of a neat and tidy 1960s aeroplane landing scene. The 1960s transport on the streets is fantastic too!
Here we are at Cape Kennedy, visiting the temple of Apollo. British Pathé compare Apollo the Greek God to Apollo the space rocket. We see shots of the famous amphitheatre that Joanna Lumley also visited in the first episode of her documentary series.
In this 1965 video on Mykonos the island is described as “a short sea trip from Athens, yet there’s a Dutch flavour about the water windmills which twirl in the Mediterranean breeze. There are tourists, but not enough to completely commercialise the old fishermen who make their souvenirs with pride and patience”
Whether Pathé were aware that Mykonos was a gay island we cannot be sure, they don’t acknowkledge the fact explicitly in the video but they do offer some strange pieces of narration that could be seen as metaphors running in tandem with gay culture such as, “Nothing seems to shake the islanders out of their leisurely stride.” The camera then follows a domesticated pelican who becomes a sort of mascot for Mykonos, described as being “no ordinary pelican”, he is “liberated” and has “no interest in settling down”. It speaks volumes that Pathé decided to focus so much of their Mykonos travelogue on an estranged pelican bird! Were the cameramen a little reluctant to capture the real Mykonos?
Although this footage of Hydra and Delphi is mute it offers beautiful and colourful shots of an unspoilt Greece in the sunshine. Lots of healthy and glamorous holidaymakers and young couples sunbathe, swim in the sea and potter about the harbour’s edge. It’s quite romantic to think that this almost 50 years ago. It is most interesting too to study the holidaymakers’ faces, one can really sense the nature of their relationships with each other, and the conversations and arguments that are having, a time capsule of one sunny afternoon by a Greek harbour. There are good shots of the ancient Greek ruins at Delphi and some art students sketching them.
“The Greek islands hang like an enchanting necklace around the throat of Greece. One of the loveliest jewels in the necklace is Aegina.” Pathé follow couples taking donkey rides from the shore up into the hills. The travelogue also covers the island of Poros. The narrator tells us that there are 1,800 Greek island, with almost half of them unoccupied! We visit the National School of Fine Arts, and see a boy sketching holidaymakers in Hydra.
Thasos is described here as an “undiscovered Greek island bypassed by the holidaymaking throngs”. With some lovely traditional music the reel takes us on a tour of Greek villas in Thasos. The video discusses a “breeze of change” and the sense that tourism will change Thasos (which is ironic considering British Pathé have sent themselves out there to record everything!)
The British Pathé Crete travelogue kicks off with a couple waterskiing. There are fantastic shots of the cliffs and some seashore caves that remarkably double up as holiday accommodation (is this still the case today?). The narrator talks about forgotten civilisation and sunken ports, suggesting that the ancient Cretans travelled to England in the past which is why Stone Henge shows a few similarities. We see ancient Greek laws carved out in rock, including references to adultery and adoption, before seeing the ruins of Knossos where legend states the Minotaur used to live.
If you’ve actually got this far, then well done and thank you! In this clip we see more of the same really, but if you’re enjoying the retro fashions, holidaymakers of yesteryear and fabulous details – then go ahead and have a garner at Pathé’s video of Corfu in the 1960s!
“The seaside became the world’s most glamorous stage on which all who visited it could play whatever role they fancied for a brief space of time”
As the new season collections begin the rounds in New York, a recentVogue guide to pyjama dressing is a reminder that one of summer’s biggest trends is far from dead. Pyjama dressing, while sounding like something dreamed up on the pages of fashion magazines never to see the light of day, actually ties in with theChinoiserie trend and also the70s revival that was prevalent all over the catwalks and High Street last season. So much so that it has found favour everywhere fromHarpers Bazaar toRefinery 29 andFur Coat, No Knickers, whilean influential Style Bubble post sawAlfie’s Antiques Market swamped with requests for similar pyjama sets. Even Ryan Gosling and Rachel Roy have picked up the mantle. My own minor obsession unfortunately doesn’t reach the lofty heights of Marc Jacobs or Louis Vuitton but does feature three different pyjama sets from three different eras.
The main inspiration behind this trend is the beach wear of the 20s and 30s. According toSun, Sea and Sand: The Great British Seaside Holiday, beach pyjamas first surfaced in 1927, worn over swim suits by the smart set at the Riviera and then became a common sight throughout the 30s on the beaches of Britain. The Art Deco craze meant they often had geometric prints, and the Depression-era interest in creating synthetic fabrics ensured that the modish new beach suits could be made of silk but were more often made from crêpe de chine, éponge (early towelling) or jersey. Perfect examples of this chic beachwear are shown in this fashion show on the Thames from 1932 from British Pathé:
‘Father Thames’ Daughters’ from 1932 also found here
The newsreel clips at British Pathé are the perfect way to explore these inter-war fashions on the screen. As you will know if you’ve been followingThe Story of British Pathé, ‘Eve’s Film Review’ was a weekly cine-magazine series aimed at women that ran from 1921 to 1933 which often featured the latest fashions from around the globe. Due to losses during WWI, the majority of cinema attendees at the time were women, so the glamour and glitz of holiday retreats and styles were given ample exposure on the big screen before the main feature films began.
‘Nautical Naughties’ beach fashion show from 1933 also found here
By the end of the 1930s beach pyjamas were typical sights along the coast, as you can see in these stills from this ‘Why the Waves are Wild!’ clip (1939) – Click the still to watch this video
“The seaside holiday was a marvellous opportunity for dressing up, especially for the young. Holiday makers could leave behind their drab office suits or factory overalls and go to the sea looking like movie stars” – from Sun, Sea and Sand: The Great British Seaside Holiday
But flamboyance at the beach was nothing new. The beach has always been a site of fashionable spectacle since spa towns first gained popularity for their health-giving qualities in the 18th century. By the mid-Victorian period, a growth in the number of public holidays along with a rise in wages led to an explosion in the number of holiday makers and a trip to the coast became essential for maintaining a fashionable lifestyle. Promenading had such social significance that you could even say that the pier was the first catwalk. (You can see my favourite Victorian beach exaggerations fromPunch right here.)
The beach has long operated as a site of transgression. Throughout the 19th century the coast was a public arena for private leisure; leisure that maintained the appearance of fashionable life but often subverted the more rigid rules and customs that operated in urban centres. Social and class boundaries were reinvented in this more relaxed atmosphere, and as such jokes were rife about the itinerant ‘Lords’ you could meet who might turn out to have considerably less links to the nobility than was initially implied. The ambiance of coastal towns – reliant on glamour and fashion as selling points – ensured that a certain extravagance in dress was allowed at the beach that would have been condemned as tasteless in urban fashion centres, and the seaside promenade was the perfect platform upon which to perform one’s fashionability. Piers became increasingly important at resorts as architectural innovations and centres of pleasure and fashion, and were regularly used to parade the season’s finest attire across the water.
An air of danger co-existed alongside the glamour and fashion. The theme of many popular music hall songs hinted at the physical pleasures that could be found at the beach and the voyeuristic nature of the seaside space. Marie Lloyd is the perfect example of this, a late-Victorian and early Edwardian music hall star who was well renowned for her risqué themes, many of which focussed on the temptations of the beach. You can listen to Marie Lloyd singing her risqué number When I Take My Morning Promenade from 1908here, which features such suggestive lyrics as: When I take my morning promenade/Quite a fashion card, on the promenade/Oh! I don’t mind nice boys staring hard/If it satisfies their desire… (you can read the resthere).
Beach holidays grew ever more popular throughout the 1920s due to the aspirational Riviera culture that was growing in popularity, as advocated by Coco Chanel and the smart set she partied with. The ballet ‘Le Train bleu’ – staged by the Ballets Russes in 1924 – gently mocks the superficiality of this leisured life, and also happens to read like a ‘who’s who’ of Modernism: it was masterminded by Diaghilev, written by Jean Cocteau, costumed by Chanel and featured a stage curtain painted by Picasso. The ‘blue train’ was the colloquial term for the train that rushed rich English tourists to the Côte d’Azur for the season, and Cocteau’s idea was to recreate a series of living picture postcards, so contemporary crazes like sunbathing and snapshots mixed with gymnastics and Cubist-inspired sets to provide a perfectly stylized look at 1920s beach life (you can see pictureshere). But the exclusive and artistic milieu of the Riviera wasn’t within reach of everyone, and so Billy Butlin brought his unique vision of luxury on a budget to the nation in the 1930s with the idea of replicating film star holidays as depicted in fan magazines: the holiday camp was born.
While 1920s and 30s beachward bound leisure-seekers were aspiring to seasons by the Riviera, fads for keeping fit and sunbathing also attracted visitors to the coast. The keep-fit craze in the UK and Germany was featured in BBC4’s series The Story of British Pathé; growing from late-Victorian interests in cycling and walking it had blossomed into more robust athletic prowess by the 1920s. Hollywood stars were often photographed exercising and fan magazines were full of tips on how to work out just like your favourite star. Sunbathing was an entirely new phenomenon in the 20s. Previously the association of tanned skin with agricultural and other outdoor work led to aristocratic woman in courts across Europe striving for a lily white pallor (a glance atElizabethan lead poisoning shows how dangerous this obsession could be). But, according to fashion legend, an accidental tan acquired by Coco Chanel as she was yachting sparked a trend that has continued through to the heady orange heights of TOWIE and Geordie Shore today.
Below: An amusing idea for decorating that beautiful bare brown back” – sun bathing tips from “Why the Waves are Wild!” from 1939:
The transgressive nature of the seaside ensured it was easier to make outlandish fashion choices that might have been less acceptable back at home. The beach pyjama trend of the 20s and 30s is notable as it allowed women to wear bifurcated clothing at a time when the idea of women in trousers was still fairly shocking. Until the Land Girls of WWII made it a more common site, bifurcated clothing for women remained somewhat taboo; admissible only within the confines of the domestic sphere (lounging pyjamas) or at the liminal site of the beach. Initially associated with eccentric clothing revolutionaries like Amelia Bloomer or the Rational Dress Movement in the 19th century, women in trousers in the early 20th century were linked with all sorts of daring activities from tantalising beach holidays to smoking. Before the beach pyjama fad really gained ground in the 1930s, many 20s pyjama suits were advertised for smoking as you can see below. This serves to connect bifurcation with modernity, as although theNew Woman of the 1890s was partial to the odd cigarette, smoking for women only become acceptable (if still somewhat daring) for the Flapper of the 1920s.
And so ends our seaside odyssey. But if your thirst still isn’t quenched, you can see lounging pyjamas disrobed to reveal a swimsuit inthis Pathé clip from 1930, and more poolside fashions from British Pathéhere from 1932, a clip which also features the wonderfully androgynousHouston Sisters. Susie Bubble featured the inspirational blogLa Mode Pyjama as well as some of thepyjama posts onPainted Woman, and you can see more pictures of beach pyjamas at the Painted Womanhere andhere. But in case you were wondering, the 1930s certainly didn’t signal the end for pyjama suits. They were revived throughout the 1960s and 70s and it was these reinterpretations of 20s and 30s trends that theMarc Jacobs S/S 2011 collection referenced. As ever, the fashion cycles keep spinning.
1960s and 70s: Jane Birkin in Ossie Clark; Bill Blass from Fashion by Jane Dorner; Biba jumpsuit.
Below: Marc Jacobs S/S 2011; for more information you can read more in my previous post on the 70s trend.
Who knew there used to be cinema carriages on trains? Or “saloons” as they were called…
Today we came across this exciting poster on the National Archives’ Flickr stream which reads – “There is a Comfortable & Luxurious Cinema Attached to this Train” – “Special Programme Compiled Exclusively For This Train by PATHE GAZETTE”, Commencing Monday, May 16th, 1938.
The poster is for an LNER train, which is the London North Eastern Railway service, so trains going from Kings Cross to places like Edinburgh. We can just picture the classy and demure travellers as they relaxed in the “Pathé L.N.E.R. Saloon”, the countryside silently sliding past them as they tucked into a feast of the latest British Pathé reels.
The films shown on the train were actually issued only 7 days before the scheduled event, so it was pretty hot off the press. It’s interesting to see that Ireland is quite well covered, and also that boxing appears to be the most highly-sought sport.
The train’s cinema carriage wasn’t free – it cost 1 shilling – so it would have been a bit of a treat, but think about it – people didn’t have televisions in the 1930s and they had to go to a cinema house to see moving footage. We love that the poster tells customers that the Pathé saloon is non-inflammable too! Of course earlier newsreels were made out of nitrate, and almost everybody smoked, so you can understand the concern.
ANYWAY. We were delighted to see that the poster then lists each reel that would feature in the screening. Using the date as a guide and searching the titles in the British Pathé film archive we’ve managed to find 32 out of 34 of the items on the trains bill, and we’ve put online links to each below so that you can pick and view the ones that interest you, or perhaps even re-live the experience and watch them all!
It was the first times Wales has beaten England in over 17 years. An exciting piece of 1950s football footage with great crowd shots conveying the anxiety and ecstasy of the fans, in the hectic match Welsh centre-forward John Charles even scores an own-goal with his head at one point.
“Even the war hasn’t affected the billiard table smoothness of the Wembley grass… Wales are buzzing around the English goal like bees round a honey pot”
After a fairly equal start Wales suddenly smash Britain with goal after goal. A brilliant 1930s football reel from Pathé with great quality close-up shots for the period. Some of the details are fantastic too – look out for the giant cigarettes advert on the stadium’s roof!
A mute clip of course as we’re now way back in the 1920s! Lovely shots of the teams coming out of the tunnel, and of players congratulating and cordially shaking hands with the Welsh player upon scoring a goal.
MORE WALES Vs. ENGLAND FOOTAGE:
There are considerably more reels of Wales being defeated by England, and so rather than go into them individually we’ve put them all together for you on this page here: