David Lean

At the beginning of his career in January 1930, David Lean left making features to join the newsreels as a cutter. He was drawn into a world of rapid production, on the cusp of the sound revolution that would soon encompass the film industry. In this experimental environment he learnt how to cut film and turn actuality into ten minute dramas.

'Some people say I have celluloid in my veins instead of blood.' David Lean


Watch a selection of archive films from the history of Gaumont Sound News and chart the development of the newsreel from ‘news with sound’ to ‘sound news’.

Of particular interest are some of the first British pre-election addresses of the sound era, including Stanley Baldwin, Arthur Henderson and Oswald Mosley (released October 1931).

May 1929

Gaumont advertise the imminent production of Gaumont Sound News, a sound version of Gaumont Graphic.

June 1929

Gaumont release the 'talkie' Derby but the newsreel runs into synchronisation problems using British Acoustic system and is delayed.

October 1929

Test versions of Gaumont Sound News shown at trade shows.

November 1929

11 November 1929
First edition of weekly Gaumont Sound News released focusing on Armistice Day.

January 1930

Bi-weekly longer ‘super edition’ released alongside ‘ordinary’ edition. Required an expansion of the editorial team and likely that Lean joined now.


Dance of the Basque Peasants (40 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 10, released 13/1/1930

Eight men are filmed performing the a traditional Basque dance that is said to be a thousand years old … on a tennis court!.

March 1930

First National Pathe release Pathetone Weekly.


April 1930

E.V.H. Emmett, later the voice of Gaumont Sound News, does his first commentary on a story concerning Princess Elizabeth’s birthday presents.


Easter Racing at Brooklands (162 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 37, released 21/4/1930

Brooklands was the first custom-built banked motor race circuit in the world and opened in 1907. In 1926 it hosted the first British Grand Prix. This item shows the circuit in its heyday, when it could hold crowds of over 200,000 people.


May 1930

Budapest Choir at Barts Hospital (78 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 43, released 12/5/1930

The Lord Mayor of Budapest arrives by coach followed by shots of the choir singing outside in the quadrangle of the hospital to assembled patients, in beds and wheelchairs.


Brooklands Air Pageant (73 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 47, released 26/5/1930

This story shows the 1930 air display at Brooklands including an early parachute display and low passes over the crowd.


June 1930

Pathe Super Sound Gazette released bi-weekly.


July 1930

E.J.H. Wright, editor of British Movietone News resigns to join Paramount.


Universal release British Talking News, first talking newsreel recorded on disc.


August 1930

The Avenue Pavillion, Shaftesbury Avenue is converted into the British Movietone News Theatre (owned by Gaumont), later Shaftesbury Avenue News Theatre.


September 1930

Paramount start to advertise Paramount Sound News launch in March 1931.


Opening of Phoenix Theatre, Charing Cross Road (175 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 80, released 18/9/1930

The Phoenix Theatre opens in 1930 with the premiere of Noël Coward’s Private Lives. Coward himself stars alongside Gertrude Lawrence, Adrienne Allen and a young Laurence Olivier. In this item Mr Cochran, the producer, opens champagne and makes a speech to crowds outside the theatre.


£1000 Golf Tournament At Oxhey (109 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 82, released 25/9/1930

Archie Compston and Sandy Herd competing for a £1,000 prize


5th October 1930

The British R101 airship crashes at Beauvais, France with the loss of 48 lives including a Cabinet Minister. David Lean recalled recording the commentary for the first edition of Gaumont Sound News released early that evening. The newsreels claimed to beat the press to the news story of the year.


November 1930

Keith Ayling, editor of Gaumont Sound News resigns to join British Movietone News. He is replaced by R.S. Howard.

January 1931

Madeleine Carroll at Yorkshire Main Pit At Doncaster (109 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 115, released 19/1/1931

This item shows the actress Madeleine Carroll visiting a Yorkshire colliery prior to her making the film BLACK DAMP. In 1930 black damp made headlines when it killed 200 miners in Millfield, Ohio.


February 1931

Super Cinema in Charing Cross Road is converted into the Tatler Theatre to show news and shorts. Programmes run for 67 minutes with tickets costing 6d and 1s.


March 1931

2 March 1931
Paramount Sound News is launched

7 March 1931
David Lean follows Keith Ayling to British Movietone News.


July 1931

Closing of Berlin Banks (83 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 167, released 20/7/1931

Street scenes of people crowding into banks and financial institutions


Interview with Queen of Greece (227 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 170, released 30/7/1931

Ex-Queen Sophie of Greece and her daughter Princess Helene with relations and friends in the garden of her house near Ascot. These include Princess Irene, younger sister of Queen Sophie, Mrs Horlick and ex-King George.


September 1931

National Cabinet in Garden at No.10 Downing Street (67 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 180, released 3/9/1931

The National Government was a coalition of the National Labour Party, Conservative Party, Liberal Party and Liberal National Party. This group picture of the Cabinet includes Stanley Baldwin, Ramsey MacDonald, Sir Herbert Samuel (Home Secretary), Lord Sanky (Lord Chancellor), Sir Samuel Hoare (Secretary of State for India), Lord Reading (Foreign Secretary), JH Thomas, Neville Chamberlain (Minister of Health) and Sir Philip Cunlippe-Lister (President of Board of Trade).


October 1931

Speech By Stanley Baldwin (election) (182 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 192, released 15/10/1931

Stanley Baldwin making a speech concerning budget deficits.


Speech by J.H. Thomas (election) (178 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 194, released 22/10/1931

A pre-election speech by ‘Jim’ Thomas, whose support of the National Cabinet enforced his resignation from the NUR.


Mr Henderson Speech (107 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 194, released 22/10/1931

A pre-election speech by Arthur Henderson. In 1900 he was one of the 129 union leaders to sign a motion by Keir Hardie which led to the foundation of the Labour Party. He served three short periods as Labour leader before chairing the League of Nations Disarmament Conference and winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1934.


Sir Oswald Mosley Speech (67 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 195, released 26/10/1931

Oswald Mosley left the Labour Party in 1931 to form the New Party – who faced a devastating defeat at the general election the day after this issue was released. Mosley went on to found the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932.

JULY 1932

Washington Bi-Centenary (90 seconds)

Gaumont Sound News Issue 271, released 18/7/1932

George Washington’s anniversary celebrated at Sulgrave Manor, Northamptonshire, his ancestral family home. At the garden fete, Viscount Lee of Fareham makes a short speech about Washington.

December 1933

The final issue of Gaumont Sound News is released, CHRISTMAS REEL 1933. From January 1934 the series was issued under a new title Gaumont British News with Leonard Castleton Knight as its editor.