British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access


There is very little material on early sound newsreels and even less on this period of David Lean’s career. Kevin Brownlow’s book provides the most detail, the rest are glimpses and context.

BUFVC pdf on the History of the British newsreel (A History of the British Newsreels)


Aldgate, Anthony, Cinema and History: British Newsreels and the Spanish Civil War (London: Scolar Press, 1979)
Detailed account of the workings of the British newsreels in the 1930s.

Blakeston, Oswell, Working for the Films (London: Focal Press, 1947)
One of the few instances of Lean in his own words, describing what it takes to be a director, and in the process analysing the role of the ‘editor or cutter’.

Boorman, John, Adventures of a Suburban Boy (London: Faber and Faber, 2003)
An illuminating autobiography which charts the career of another film director who started as an editor on the cusp of a new technology, television. Lean was a friend and mentor who briefly recalls the coming of sound at the end of his life.

Brownlow, Kevin, David Lean (London: Faber and Faber, 1997)
The work which encompasses the full span of Lean’s career based on a series of interviews with Lean himself.

Fielding, Raymond, The American Newsreel 1911-1971 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972)
The standard history of the American newsreel, with a useful description of the first American newsreel theatres.

McKernan, Luke (ed.), Yesterday’s News: The British Cinema Newsreel Reader (London: BUFVC, 2002)
A collection of over forty essays past and present on the British newsreels, including a piece by the critic C.A. Lejeune on the early newsreel theatre.

Turner, John, Filming History: The Memoirs of John Turner, Newsreel Cameraman (London: British Universities Film & Video Council, 2001)
Plain but detailed memoirs of John Turner, who was a Gaumont-British News cameraman in the 1930s-1950s, including serving as the royal rota cameraman, and news editor for Pathe News in the 1960s.

Wyand, Paul, Useless if Delayed (London: George G. Harrap, 1959)
Very entertaining and informative autobiography by British Movietone News cameraman Paul Wyand who started his career in the 1920s.

Young, Freddie, Seventy Light Years (London: Faber and Faber, 1999)
This autobiography not only charts his important collaboration with David Lean but also provides a fascinating insight into the early days of Gaumont where he started his career processing film at Shepherd’s Bush.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has recently published the Sir David Lean Showcase which focuses on his seminal role in the founding and development of BAFTA through archive documents and interviews.
The BFI’s microsite on David Lean has a comprehensive list of web resources covering different aspects of Lean’s career, primarily as a director.
British Movietone have digitised their archive of newsreels which include the first sound newsreel and a short on the first newsreel theatre at Shaftesbury Avenue entitled News Theatre Guide.
A site dedicated to cinemas past and present that lists several old newsreel cinemas.
Claire Bonney’s essay on the architect Adrienne Gorska provides invaluable insight into the first French newsreel theatres and their design.