Italian Cinebox and Scopitone expert Michele Bovi has an amazing new book
out on the history of the film jukebox. It's written in Italian with an
English translation (the photo captions are just in Italian, though).
It's a very thorough history of the
invention and marketing of the competing "film jukeboxes" with
interviews of inventors, executives, producers, directors, and the
artists who appeared in the films.
There's a bunch of interesting
tidbits about folks such as Debbie Reynolds (her production company
made many of the US Scopitones), Francis Ford Coppola (who lost a small
fortune he invested in the new technology), Robert Altman (who directed
at least one Scopitone film), as well as details about the US Scopitones business's extensive ties to the mafia.
"Some pictures you might like to use on your site. I took these at London's Hayward Gallery a while ago in 1994 when there was an exhibition of optical illusions. I think the owner was Swiss. Half the machine was full of porn films. One of them can be seen in one of the small pics! A good example though and in good condition.
"Hi Spike, Thanks for answering my e-mail. The pix attached are of the shoot early Sixties taken from a slide. You're welcome to use them if you like. The cast was Smokey Warren on fence, Dottie Mae, Shorty Benjamin on Drums, Harvey Reynolds on Steel Guitar, And me, Jerry Hatton on Bass.I only saw the film on a Scopitone once after we did the shoot in NJ in PA. I found info about Scopitones when searching the net. Once again, Thanks For your help Jerry Hatton" If anyone has Jerry's Scopitones: Smokey Warren "Where the Old Red River Flows" (#K 242) & "Out Behind The Barn" (#K243) email me for his contact info, Thanks Jerry!
Time Magazine Modern Living Scooby-Ooby Scopitone Aug. 21, 1964
In some 500 bars, restaurants and servicemen's clubs throughout the U.S., the center of attention these days is a monstrous new machine called Scopitone. It is a cross between a jukebox and TV. For $.25 a throw, Scopitone projects any one of 36 musical movies on a 26-in. screen, flooding the premises with delirious color and hi-fi scooby-ooby-doo for three whole minutes. It makes a sobering combination.
Scopitone, which has been the rage of France for the past four years, was invented by a firm that sounds as if it had been founded by Jules Verne; Compagnie d'Applications Mecaniques à Electronique au Cinéma et à Atomistique (CAMECA). Since then it has spread from Marseilles to Macao; Nikita Khrushchev even has one, loaded with Marxian uplift featurettes. Actually, Scopitone's "musies" are descended from U.S. Soundies, which during World War II filled bus terminals and B-girl grottoes with grainy, black-and-white productions of The Flat Foot Floogee with the Floy Floy and A Boy in Khaki, a Girl in Lace. Television and Lucky Strike's Hit Parade put a merciful end to Soundies, but it looks as if Scopitone will be here to stay awhile.
Rights to Scopitone for the U.S. and South and Central America were snapped up for $5,000 last year by Alvin I. Malnik, 31, a Miami Beach attorney, who will soon start distributing machines manufactured in Chicago. He already has installed them in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and dozens of military bases, and has a backlog of 2,500 orders. If Malnik has his way, every public place from the hoitiest cocktail lounge to the toitiest pizza parlor will be swinging to musies, all of which are eventually to be produced by Malnik himself. Meanwhile, Scopitone screens are filled by French films. One typical Gallic offering, El Gato Montés, captures the jollity of the annual Pamplona fiesta with trumpet playing, flamenco dancing and the shrieks of small boys being gored by rampaging bulls in the streets.
The production possibilities of Scopitone films make their promoter sound like Cecil B. DeMalnik. "Take Hello, Dolly! " he says, eyes moist with enthusiasm. "Maybe we'd have an actress getting down from a train in a little hick town, and, you know, she's Dolly coming back—I really don't know the rest of the words—but then there'd probably be some people meeting her, dancing along. There's just no end to the storybook film devices we can prepare." Just for a start, he might try My Funny Ballantine, Tea for Tuborg, and Music to Cry in Your Beer By.
I found this little pic while looking for more info (there's not much) on the Cinebox , another film juke box that competed with Scopitone and was popular in The UK and Italy. It's taken from a PDF I found promoting "Weird And Wonderful Sydney". "Weird And Wonderful Sydney".pdf