Viewing Habits: British Pathé

I am prone to falling into the YouTube trap of looking for a specific video and then clicking on related videos of interest. Thankfully, my interests are innocent enough that I only spend hours watching old educational films about how to use the telephone and psychedelic infomercials about decorative refrigerator panels. While doing some “research” on Expo ’67, YouTube suggested a newsreel clip that introduced me to my new favourite hobby: watching clips from 20th century newsreels from British Pathé.

I could regale you with the history of Pathé and walk you through all the variations of newsreels and “cinemagazines,” but I’m short on time and Wikipedia could probably give you a better overview. This is merely an excuse to post a bunch of links to my favourite reels and to introduce you to the bright and jovial narration work of Bob Danvers-Walker. If, after watching several newsreels featuring his work, you do not begin to narrate your own life in his style, you simply haven’t watched enough.

The British Pathé site is full of film clips dating back to the early 1920s—although those won’t feature Danvers-Walker—and photo galleries. If you’ve got a hankering to look at a bunch of photos of Queen Elizabeth donning silly hats, British Pathé’s got you covered. In my explorations, I’ve stuck to the whimsical slice-of-life stories like provocative hat fashions in the 1950s, underwater dinner parties, and showgirl bowling. These are the kinds of stories that now only grace the pages of the free neighbourhood weekly paper or kitschy blogs. From science and technology to travel to sport and leisure, there’s something for everyone…well, everyone who’s interested in the ways of the 20th century.

We need a modern day Pathé to produce gentle newsreels for the cinema to temper the garish, in-your-face adverts that precede today’s new releases. Wouldn’t you prefer an imitation Bob Danvers-Walker cheerfully narrating a day-in-the-life of GrumpyCat or an artisan knot store to another mobile phone commercial?

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