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A month at Movietone 1948

I had been called into the Army in November 1946, just as I was getting used to working for Movietone.  It was expected that I would serve for two years, but the start of the Cold War and the Berlin Airlift, ensured that I would spend another five months waiting to get demobbed.

A scheme was available to all those expecting to leave the Army within a few months.  This allowed individuals to gain what is now called “work experience”.  All you had to do was find a company that would take you on for a month, without pay, to allow you get used to working in a civilian environment again.

For almost two years, I had been working 8 to 5 most days at a job which was remarkably like a civilian job.  You might call it advanced warehousing on a grand scale.

I had kept in touch with Movietonews during my time in the Army and almost always visited them during my long leaves. I asked them if they could help.  Not only could they help, they were mad keen on me doing it. One of the staff, Alan Haythorne, was getting married and was going to be on honeymoon for a month during November 1948.

I applied to the Army for the scheme and it was approved. I turned up at Movietonews to be told that I would do Alan Haythorne’s job in his absence.  Well, most of it.  He was responsible for attending all screenings in the theatre and writing out the Master Index library cards for each and every news story that came in.

British Movietone News Poster

British Movietone News Poster (Photo credit: phantom of the flicks)

The Master Index Card noted the source of the material, usually this would be the camera crew. It would show the amount of footage shot, the type of film used, the location, the date, a rough shot list, the cut length and the issue number of the newsreel it was used in.  This was fascinating and I did it for a month.

I soon got used to working in “civvy street” and, after only a week at Movietone, it was if I had never left.  I worked alongside Tommy Scales, the make-up editor, Sid Wiggins, the head cutter and Cecil Burge the commentary writer.

Movietonews were very pleased with what I did and, although they were not obliged, they gave me a cash payment for my services.

I went back to barracks with the 15th Battalion R.A.O.C. at Bicester in Oxfordshire to work out my remaining time.  I knew that I would be able to rejoin Movietone when I left the army, but, at that time, I did not know what job would be on offer.

© Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For other articles about Movietone click here.

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