Universal Newsreels
March 20, 2009 8:24 PM   Subscribe

More than 600 Universal Newsreels at Internet Archive, both whole and partial reels (the same collection, with a few more newsreels is also on YouTube but it's in lower quality). Newsreels were short collections of current events that ran before feature films. They ran from the start of the film era up into the 1960s. This collection goes from the early 30s through the mid 60s. Here are a few interesting ones: Eleanor Roosevelt tells a joke, 1935 car industry workers strike, Australian who was orphaned in China and raised by Chinese parents returns to Australia, FDR inaugurated, Enos the chimpanzee goes into space and returns to Earth, Vietnam War protest marches in New York, San Francisco and Rome, Busby Babes plane crash, Gagarin hugged by Kruschev, Truman brings the funny, Seattle be-in and Nuremberg trials.
posted by Kattullus (19 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Some of the newsreels are insensitive by modern standards and pretty much every single one is laden with propaganda.
posted by Kattullus at 8:25 PM on March 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

So cool! So very very cool! A family friend of mine grew in the heyday of newsreels and refused to take us kids to the movies, when a kid's ticked was 2-4 bucks, because when he was young it was well under 50¢ for two newsreels, a cartoon, a feature, and a final cartoon. It's cool to see a little of what he was used to.
posted by Science! at 8:42 PM on March 20, 2009

"Hollywood! Graumann's Chinese theatre!"

I love doing that voice.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:49 PM on March 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

and pretty much every single one is laden with propaganda.

Have you tuned in to any of our current form of "newsreels" lately? Things haven't changed that much...
posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on March 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, fantastic. Thanks so much.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:11 PM on March 20, 2009

Internet, I love you.
posted by Pecinpah at 9:25 PM on March 20, 2009

"President Johnson meanwhile let it be known that the FBI is closely watching all anti-war activity."

posted by sourwookie at 11:52 PM on March 20, 2009

re: The Aussie orphan in China.

An ANZAC is specifically a soldier [AC = Army Corps]. But considering the times, a fairly forgivable mistake. /pedant
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:21 AM on March 21, 2009

Terrific stuff, thanks! (I grew up with "two newsreels, a cartoon, a feature, and a final cartoon" myself, so this brings back memories.)

Some of the newsreels are insensitive by modern standards and pretty much every single one is laden with propaganda.

Oh no, Mister Bill!!
posted by languagehat at 5:55 AM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

languagehat: Oh no, Mister Bill!!

What's even worse they're hopelessly square.
posted by Kattullus at 7:45 AM on March 21, 2009

In 1908, Pathé invented the newsreel that was shown in theaters prior to the feature film.
posted by stbalbach at 9:19 AM on March 21, 2009

"Then last week, as it must to all men, death came to Charles Foster Kane."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:12 AM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Those Pathé newsreels are fabulous, stbalbach. Thanks!
posted by Kattullus at 1:25 PM on March 21, 2009

I love this clip from the Pathé archive which is largely about Al Smith being selected as the Democratic nominee in 1928. In the beginning it says: Officially his full name is ALFRED EMANUEL SMITH Governor of New York." You can just about hear a voice in a theater back then saying: "Emanuel... that's a bit... Catholic, isn't it." Then, for some reason, they run this clip of a young woman giving Smith a big ol' congratulatory smooch twice (I'm pretty sure it's his daughter or daughter-in-law). Later on they show him covered in babies, golfing and "in his zoo" which consists of a doe and a horse. And they end it with showing William Jennings Bryan, which was cool. I've never seen film footage of him.
posted by Kattullus at 3:24 PM on March 21, 2009

Do they have the newsreel of Flannery O'Connor and her backwards-walking chickens?
posted by NoMich at 5:05 PM on March 21, 2009

If you are an old news junkie, which is a phenonmenon deserving more insight I can put together, then you should check this user out on Youtube -- Realagentofsheild...some interesting 70s/80s footage up there...Labor Strikes, Watergate, Black Panthers, Lennon's Death, etc...etc...

If someone can put into words succintly why I find these short clips more interesting than 80-90% of what passes for coverage on the cable news networks, feel free to reply...
posted by lslelel at 7:34 PM on March 21, 2009



250,000 people are in Washington for the inauguration. But for those unable to get there, Universal Newspaper Newsreel is rushing pictures of the epic ceremony by the fastest air express plane in the country!

The speedy plane takes off and soars over the national capital, even while President Roosevelt is still on the inaugural stand. At 230 miles an hour, the record-breaking air express whisks its historic freight to the screen, arriving at New York while newspaper wires are still hot with the story of the great event, and while the radio still roars with acclamations for the new president.

At the airport, a fast car with police escort is waiting, and the film is transferred almost as soon as the plane touches the ground. No bet is overlooked in the race against time to serve the newsreel public, and the Universal Newspaper newsreel is establishing a record for speed.

How... quaint.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:40 PM on March 21, 2009

That Be-in happened about two months before I moved to Seattle--I know people who went to it. I will be checking this one out to see how many people, if any, I recognize and remember.

But then again, people who are in their teens and twenties often look like people I went to high school with--something not unlike traveler friends of mine have on occasion encountered in Europe: they would go to a village from where the parents, grandparents or great grandparents of a friend in the States came. And there they met quite a few people who looked just like him or her. In a similar sense, I see people with whom I went to high school, who are still in their teens. This happens to me about once or twice a year.
posted by y2karl at 11:40 AM on March 22, 2009

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