These films had been on the archive’s own website for several years, to the delight of film historians and researchers. The availability of these films on YouTube now means that more of the general public will find, enjoy, and learn from the archive’s collections.
For those of you who may not immediately know, British Pathé is the English branch of one of the absolute oldest film production and distribution companies. Originally Pathé Frères, the company was founded in France in 1896 by four Pathé brothers. After more than a century of important milestones in the film industry, Pathé still exists today in at least a couple forms, namely the Pathé! production company in France, the British Pathé archive, and others as well.
Pathé, as a distributor, had many incredibly important ties to the early animation world. In 1913, it was Charles Pathé who viewed J.R. Bray’s first film, The Artist’s Dream, and signed Bray to a distribution contract that led to the formal founding of the Bray Studios in 1914.
Here in America, Pathé also distributed Rube Goldberg’s animated cartoons in 1916, the staggering lot of Paul Terry’s Aesops Fables (nearly 450 produced!) from 1921 through 1929, Hy Mayer’s Travelaughs in 1922, Herbert M. Dawley’s Silliettes from 1923 through 1925, and the sound Van Beuren cartoons from 1929 through the very early 1930s; among others.
What’s most intriguing about the British Pathé archive is that it contains many incredibly obscure and rare early British animated cartoons.
Without further ado, here are some hand-selected titles for your enjoyment:
War Cartoon (1916)
This unidentified film represents the earliest animated films in the British Pathé collection, namely WWI-themed cartoons. It reminds me of Bray animation of the period.
Jerry the Troublesome Tyke in Great Expectations (1925)
Here’s an example of one of several early animal character series produced in England. Some of the style in this reminds me slightly of Dick Huemer’s work in the mid-to-late 1920s Out of the Inkwell cartoons.
The Adventures of Sammy and Sausage: The Lie-Do Cup (1928)
A British boy and his dog, combined with live action footage of artist Joe Noble. Do you know of them?
Bingo the Barking Baritone (1933)
A rare early sound British cartoon.
And now for an American rarity!
Bud and Susie in The Kids Find Candy’s Catching (1920)
Released here in the States as part of the Paramount Magazine, this is an example of films that were handled by Pathé in other territories. This one is so far unique to British Pathé’s collection.