15th March 1944 – On this day the Second Battle of Cassino opened. The town of Cassino was on a mountain to the east of the Monastery which had already been flattened. Paul Wyand and Martin Gray were determined to get to the front to get a good view of the assault. In the car they carried their American tent colleagues plus a third who had joined them for the ride. He was Sherman “Monty” Montrose of United Press.
As they left the main highway to take a back road, they were stopped by an American colonel. He said that that road was under continual German observation and that they had been firing at any movement they saw on it. Read more
After I had finished shooting my two films for the UAE government, we had a farewell dinner at the Sheraton Hotel and I flew back home after eighteen days in the blistering heat. Read more
Easter came round again and we made the long flight down to Nairobi. There had been no rain and there would be no rain while the Rally was being staged.
This would make things very difficult for the crews in the rally and for us. The cars would be speeding across the Murrum blowing up huge plumes of dust which flew into the air to about forty feet and trailing away as a tail two hundred yards long. Read more
April 6th 1944 – Movietone had been commissioned, in December 1943, to make a short film for the Empire Division of the Ministry of Information on “The Life of Princess Elizabeth”. Little or nothing had been done since receiving the commission probably due to the inability of the officials at The Palace to organize things. Any thought of getting the film ready for the Princess’s birthday had to be dismissed because her birthday was now less than two weeks away and not a single foot had been shot. Read more
In April 1984, we were due to go to MIP in Cannes once again. For some years, the company had gone to MIP, taken a display stand, but offered no additional product. All their customers already received the news service. I had persuaded UPITN’S President, Kenneth Coyte, that we should go with something to sell. I had pondered the problem for some time after the previous MIP. I came to the conclusion that the missing programme should be concerned with fashions. At that time, there was no regular programme concerning fashions among the major broadcasters in the world. There were also few specialist women’s programmes that might include fashions. Read more
In 1938, Robert Humphrey wrote an article called “Careers in the films”. He wrote: The newsreel cameraman. (needs) a thick skin, indomitable push, and boundless ingenuity and resource to help him in tight corners in which he will inevitably find himself; and, most important of all, plenty of tact and patience to deal with all sorts of authorities, both reasonable and unreasonable … the ability to make a quick decision is essential, as also is a certain flair for what is of news interest”. Read more
I thought that I might compare what some Movietone people were doing on and after D-Day in various locations. So, this is the month of June 1944 as seen by Movietone. Read more
Vittorio Della Valle was a colleague of mine from 1961 to 1972.
He was born in 1917 in Rome. His father was a cinematographer who had accompanied one of the Italian Airship Expeditions to the North Pole. Read more
February 14th 1944 – cameraman Paul Wyand and soundman Martin Gray were still in the region of Cassino. At the beginning of the month the advanced headquarters had moved up to Presenzano which was about a twenty-minute ride from the front line. Here they were based. While on base, they would have slept in tented accommodation and eaten with the officers. The army serviced their camera car and provided its fuel. They had to do their own sewing and ironing, if they could find an iron and an ironing board. While away from the base, they fed themselves from rations provided. Often, they had to forage for food. Read more
Gerald Fountaine Sanger was a co-founder of British Movietone News. He was Executive Editor from 1929 to 1954 and on the board of directors until his retirement in 1964.
He was born in 1898 and was educated first at a preparatory school then to Shrewsbury School, a public school, and finally to Oxford University. Read more