British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

British Movietone News

1929 - 1979
British Movietone News was a sound newsreel launched on 9 June 1929 by an offshoot of the US company Fox Movietone. It was the first sound newsreel to be distributed in Britain, and ran until 27 May 1979. Although natural sound was a feature of the early issues, commentaries began with issue 310 on 31 May 1935. From 1929 the editor of British Movietone News was Gerald Sanger, and although it was announced in 1935 that Sir Malcolm Campbell had replaced him as editor, Campbell was simply a figurehead and editorial control remained with Sanger as the reel’s ‘producer’. Sanger retired in 1954, and was followed as editor by Jack Ramsden, Jeff Shearley, and, finally, Peter Hampton. From 20 March 1969 it changed the name of the reel to Movietone News.
The British Movietone News section of this database was input at the British Movietonews Film Library, with the assistance of its staff, and includes both information from the original issue sheets and additional material from the Movietonews library cards.

Movietone issues included ‘special’ items which were either ‘trailers’ (public information material placed at the beginning or end of the story) or ‘locals’ (stories shown in certain regions only, occasionally in place of one or more stories from the general release issue); stories not shown in a particular region will have a remark to that effect in this database.

Fields unique to Movietone are ‘Source’, which indicates the cameraman who filmed the story or the office or company which supplied the footage; ‘Film shot’, which indicates how much film was used when filming the story; and ‘Date submitted’ [i.e. to the Movietone office], which indicates the turnaround time of a story from submission to screening, if any.
Other Information
The rights to British Movietone News are managed by AP Archive, which also holds a complete run of the newsreel. There are also substantial holdings within the BFI National Archive, largely owing to an arrangement between British Movietonews and the BFI to preserve the original nitrate copies (1929-1951).

Films in this series can be obtained from:

Film Archive

AP Archive
+44 (0)20 7482 7482
Series held
View all series held by AP Archive

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