MODE magazine’s Rulebook for Men makes sense to the British Pathé film archive

MODE magazine by Shortlist

Today one of our archivist’s turned up at work with a magazine called MODE, by the people who make Shortlist, one of those trendy free mags that they distribute outside tube stations. We’re not sure how new MODE is, but it’s quite a good read with some interesting pieces on, surprisingly, the history of mens fashion.

One feature was a numerical list of this season’s ‘rulebook’ for mens fashion. We were interested to note how quite a few of the items on the list took inspiration from events and occurrences that happened within the age range of the British Pathé archive (1897-1977), and so on our lunch break today we decided to see if we could dig out some good relevant material.

1. The Playboy Club Returns to London

Number One on MODE’s list took direct inspiration from London’s Playboy Club and its return to our capital in 1966. We were instantly reminded of our pivotal 1966 video reel Inside The Playboy Paradise.

 5. Jimmy Choo turns his attention to mens fashion

Footwear legend Jimmy Choo ranked 5th on MODE’s rulebook list. Jimmy Choo’s co-founder Tamara Mellon has a connection with our archive in that her father used to run a raunchy life-drawing café in Soho, and British Pathé went along to make this video of it in 1959 called Coffee Bar Studio.

7. Remembering Concorde

As soon as we read the words ‘Remembering Concorde’ we knew just the archive clip to match. Here you can watch colour footage of Concorde’s first ever flight at Filton near Bristol in 1969 – Concorde 002 Flight. We like the white boiler suits too! In fact, just search ‘Concorde’ in the British Pathé film archive and you’ll find loads of great stuff.

8. Remembering Paco Rabanne

We were pleased too to see Paco Rabanne in MODE’s rulebook. For those of you wanting to remember him we have several good clips in the archive, but our favourite has to be this newsreel entitled Metal Fashions, the girls are stunning and the scenery is as mind-boggling as you’d expect.

11. Bjorn Borg

If only British Pathé had continued making cinema newsreels throughout the 1970s we’re sure we’d have some great Bjorn Borg footage. However, we do have our own tennis fashion icon in the archive – Rene Lacoste

We’re looking forward to the next issue of MODE. Also, if their editorial team have one of those Ralph Lauren Home crystal decanters knocking about their office then we could sure as hell put it to good use!

Take a look at MODE on – – we’re looking forward to the next issue!

Big Fat Gypsy Videos in the British Pathe Film Archive

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings has been a surprise TV phenomenon here in Britain this year, with its sometimes hilarious sometimes sad voyeuristic insight into gypsy life here in the UK. It’s that time of year when there’s a bit of a telly slump anyway, audiences want to fill the hole that X Factor / Strictly / I’m A Celeb has left, and TV critics are desperate for something sensational to write about. Big Fat Gypsy Weddings hits just the spot, but it’s not the first time Britain’s been fixated on its traveller communities.

Gypsies have long been a subject for news, documentaries, discussion and conflict in the UK, which is why British Pathé has several films related to gypsy weddings and other social issues in their archive. Here are the best clips below, enjoy!


Set in Bailsdon this is the magical wedding day of Maralene and Mariano. The rituals of this gypsy wedding include the mixing of blood of the bride and groom, and jumping across a fire as newlyweds. The video has a very “them and us” attitude, making borderline indignant comments about the gypsies’ dancing.


A dashing gypsy lad with an earring who is given a record contract. He sings “It must be the gypsy in me..” for the Pathé cameramen on a camp in St. Paul’s Cray, Kent. It’s rather odd how in both Danny Purchase clips he has his arms around his elderly mother!

Reel 1:

Reel 2:


A dramatic and fascinating 1970s newreel that discusses the problem of a gypsy community.

Dame Patricia Hornsby declares – “We’ve now had far more than our fair share and whatever we do we just get more. We’ve had upto 40 caravans with mountains of junk, as many of them engage in breaking down cars and selling the bits. We’ve done our stint! We’ve done our full whack. Kent has always been a mecca for gypsies. It wasn’t so bad when they came here seasonally for fruit picking but now they have very substantial trade in selling broken down cars”

 ROMANY ROW! (1958)

“Tom with his knife and nine children brought his family here for the hop picking”. This fantastic 1950s newsreel is set in Penshurst, Kent, and it depicts a family of gypsies who earn a ‘real home’.

The Rector William Peers helps Tom to find a house by allotting the Jones’ family a council house, and the villagers donated the furniture. Mrs. Martin goes round to teach the gypsy wife what living indoors is like (!)


A wonderful clip in which New York gypsies throw an upper floor courtyard party. Lots of clapping and dancing to the lively music! An older woman smoking a pipe shimmies her shoulders.


Gypsy Girl in 1961

This gypsy camp near Waterdale by the side of the M1 is described as “A big headache for Hertfordshire country council who own the field. No good just shifting the headache somewhere else, so the council make the site an official one”. But then more gypsies “pour in from Wales and everywhere else”. The clip highlights problems with sanitation, lack of education for the gypsiy children and the famililes’ need for a permanent home.


“A new kind of squatter, the woodland gypsy, has set a problem for the authorities.” The gypsies again live in hut-like dwelling as opposed to a vehicle, described as “18 families living rent-free but comfortless”.


Set in Italy, this clip features some great shots of a Gypsy Queen around a campfire at night. The musical score is every bit as whimsical and melodramatic as you’d expect a British Pathé newsreel focusing on gypsies in rural Italy to be.


A video of a Gypsy Wedding in the Nederlands. “A contract’s a contract and there’s no question of sending the goods back”

For more gypsy videos in the British Pathé archive see the Big Fat Gypsy Videos collection.

The King’s Speech Oscar Scoop and James Franco as Marilyn Monroe

We’re thrilled that The King’s Speech scooped four Oscars at last night’s ceremony: Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Director (Tom Hooper) and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). For those of you who are yet to see British Pathé’s online archive footage of King George VI see below:

This is the archive’s most popular video clip of King George VI speaking, at the Opening of the Empire Exhibition in Scotland (1938)

Here is the audio clip of the famous Coronation Speech (1937)

And for those of you still wanting more then check out our George VI Collection which contains 26 clips in which King George VI speaks, and has some great contextual material such as footage of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (The Queen Mother) who was played by (Oscar-nominee) Helena Bonham-Carter in the film.

The King’s Speech was nominated for twelve awards at the 83rd Academy Awards:













James Franco in Drag as Marilyn Monroe!

The other memorable moment for us from last night’s bizarre ceremony was James Franco, who came out on stage in drag as Marilyn Monroe. In some ways the stunt builds upon the Hollywood connection between James Franco and Heath Ledger, for Ledger’s widow Michelle Williams will play Marilyn Monroe in the forthcoming film ‘My Week With Marilyn’. Not only does James Franco resemble Heath Ledger but he has been tipped to take on his role as the Joker in Batman. Both actors found critical success in playing gay characters on the big screen too – Heath Ledger as the fictional Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, and James Franco as firstly Harvey Milk’s boyfriend Scott Smith alongside Sean Penn in Milk, and secondly as a young Alan Ginsberg in Howl.

Here is British Pathé’s video of Marilyn Monroe meeting The Queen in 1956, in Leicester Square.

All of Yesterday’s Parties: Forgotten Scenesters of the 60s

Can you name any of these swinging 60s sauce pots?

A lot of people are getting excited today because someone has scanned in their old copies of Smash Hits! Magazine and uploaded the pages as images to FlickR, meaning thirty-somethings can pour over their favourite popstars of the 80s.

Now here in the British Pathé film archive we stopped filming circa 1977, and so even Smash Hits! magazine, which is now placed on a pedestal as some kind of retro culture mecca, strikes us as quite contemporary and modern – the affair began years after we finished!

Because whilst it’s fun to look back at Duran Duran interviews and remember the days when Ultravox were looked upon as demi-gods, we actually have tonnes of videos online from the birth of pop culture some twenty years prior to the 1980s.

Just take a look at this fantastic video we have of the ‘Kaleidoscope Premiere’ in 1966, at the Warner Theatre in Leicester Square. Who are these beautiful people? What did they do, and what became of them? If you recognise any of the party folk present, and they’re not already listed in the canister notes (Jackie Collins, Cathy McGowan etc.) then please do leave us a comment.


The Queen’s First Visit To Ireland? What About Queen Victoria…

In May, just days after the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, The Queen will be paying a visit to Ireland, astonishingly the first reigning monarch to do so in one hundred years.

The last time someone on the throne popped across the Irish Sea was George V (or as one Guardian journalist put it – “That bearded fellow who shouts at Colin Firth in the King’s Speech”) and his wife Mary. British Pathé has the video of course in their free online archive:

Simply titled George V and Queen Mary, the canister notes suggest there was nothing particularly extraordinary about this being a visit to Ireland. In 1911 the whole of Ireland was still part of Great Britain. It’s a fun video, The Duke of York is there, as are other officials from London, as the King and Queen greet people, including an “ancient man wearing plumed hat who shakes the King’s hand vigorously for a long time!”

Going back further we were thrilled to find another British monarch visiting Ireland on film, none other than Queen Victoria in Dublin, on the 4th of April 1900. Only nine months before her death, the video shows a lengthy and very Victorian procession that climaxes with the Queen pulling up in her carriage to meet some important folk, before speeding off again.

The British Pathé archive is popular in Ireland as we have so much footage of Irish history. Recently the Irish Independent wrote an article on our election footage, notably our De Valera clips. Other popular Irish reels include this one of a gun-running funeral procession way back in 1910, and this famous reel entitled ‘Irish Revolution’ in 1922.

Then’s there the JFK workspace, the American President that Ireland treated as one of their own. And finally, I quite like this old barmy reel of some men going for a brisk winter swim on Christmas Day in 1933!

JFK: An Irish Legacy

Girls Night Out: Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Party Like It’s 1945.

London, 8th May, 1945.

We read this morning that 16-year-old Dakota Fanning might be playing a young Princess Margaret in an upcoming project Girls’ Night Out, a film that will focus on the two princesses who were allowed out of Buckingham Palace on the night of VE Day to join in with celebrations across the city to mark the end of the Second World War.

Well we had a rummage in the British Pathé archive and found footage of Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth on that very day, greeting crowds outside the Palace with their parents King George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (The Queen Mum)

We also found some wonderful shots of the celebrations and parties that Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth might have attended. Click on the link below to find great clips of men climbing lampposts, people doing the conga around Marble Arch, toasts and speeches being made in restaurants and busy clubs full of Londoners and dancing and drinking late into the night!

We wonder if Dakota Fanning will watch our archive footage of Princess Margaret to pick up some style and hair tips, not to mention her distinctive facial expressions and composure. There is no news yet as to who might play the young Queen, although here in the archive we think Rebecca Hall, Andrea Riseborough or Carey Mulligan would be good choices (“Rebecca might be too tall?” – ed). If only Elle Fanning was a little older she could play a young Queen alongside her big sister Dakota.

Queen Visits the East End – Watch Now!

We wonder where exactly the Princesses went on their night out? We’re sure it wouldn’t have been a disorganised crawl along Brick Lane, and much more likely the girls went for a quiet gin and tonic in a private members’ club. Who knows, we’ll have to wait and see.

It would be good to see a film that focuses on the royal family’s participation in the war effort, Princess Elizabeth took a very hands-on approach. Here is a clip of The Queen driving a military truck, she even take a look under the bonnet!

The King’s Speech has evidently triggered a regal trend at the movies. How long will it be before Hollywood takes on the Diana story, or Wills and Kate?

Girls’ Night Out Footage – Watch Now!

The Victoria and Albert Museum find secretly recorded footage in the British Pathé archive of the beautiful and famously unfilmed Ballets Russes

Montreux, Switzerland in June 1928.

We’re so excited here in the British Pathé archive to hear that Jane Pritchard, curator of the V&A’s recent Ballets Russes exhibition, has made such an intriguing discovery in the British Pathé film archive, announcing on her blog last week that she had identified footage of the Ballets Russes, a phenomena considering previous claims from various respected corners of the dance world that no such footage existed.

The tiny fragment of film in our online archive is called ‘Festival of Narcissus’ and depicts the Ballets Russes performing Les Sylphides at the 1923 Fêtes de Narcisses at Montreaux in Switzerland. The influential director Sergei Diaghilev never allowed his incredible dancers to be filmed, claiming (quite cleverly from a financial perspective according to some cynics) that their brilliance could not be captured on camera, which makes this clip all the more rare.

Well evidently such beauty could be captured on film, and this beautiful fragment of a performance was hidden away for over 80 years in British Pathé’s Pinewood vaults under the misleading title ‘Festival of Narcissus’! Not only was the formidable dance troupe cited incorrectly, but the lead dancer Serge Lifar was noted down as being a woman, as a result of his rather splendid wig and finely toned legs, no doubt causing more confusion for researchers at the V&A as they tried to identify this piece of potentially groundbreaking or possibly extraneous footage!

It has now been confirmed, with the help of a London Ballet Circle member Susan Eastwood, that this mysterious (and secretly recorded) reel does indeed show the famous Ballet Russes, making it the only known existing footage of Sergei Diaghilev’s divine project.

Since British Pathé opened their archive’s doors to the public last year, giving free and unlimited viewing to over 90,000 historically protected reels, all sorts of fun discoveries have been made, and there is still a long way to go. Only last month footage of Mrs. Henderson at the Windmill theatre, and a great clip of Germaine Greer at a Rolling Stones concert were discovered.

The Pathé cameramen who wrote the original canister notes in pencil would have been stunned if they knew that the entire world would one day have access to their hectic reel notes, as would the groovey archivists of decades past who added their own mad and frantic scrawlings along the way!

If you are a dance or ballet enthusiast then please do have a good rummage on – it is a colossal digital archive, and as Jane Pritchard has proved, there is still much to be uncovered and understood within it.

Watch the Ballets Russes on film here:

Read Jane Pritchard’s wonderful blog post ‘I Eat My Words’ here:


Further Related links:

Maev Kennedy’s piece in the Guardian:

An article about this discovery in the Dancing Times:

Click on this image to view more ballet videos in the British Pathe film archive online.



Words: Jack Cullen