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Across the globe film historians and archivists continue to search for countless films that now seem to be 'lost' to posterity. As many of these films originate from the era of nitrate based film stock the chances of their survival diminishes with every passing year. Nitrate film is highly flammable and also eventually deteriorates; consequently it is often a race against time to transfer these films to modern safety film for archiving. Undoubtedly, among those missing or ‘lost’ are countless classics, memorable or important films.

On a smaller scale the search is continuing for the ‘lost’ films made by John E. Blakeley’s ‘Mancunian Film Corporation’. Regarded by many as inferior films, they nonetheless form part of Lancashire’s regional history and should certainly be preserved. It is hoped to have a Mancunian Film collection housed at the North West Film Archive in Manchester.

With the closure of the Kay Film Laboratories in the 1980s the negatives held there were offered back to the relevant film companies. Those that were unclaimed or unwanted were then destroyed – which unfortunately included those of Mancunian Films.

Obviously, from this point on no new prints could be struck and consequently the only films currently available derive from surviving positive prints. The films held by ‘Blakeley’s Films’ today (from which many of the DVD releases originate) are unfortunately mostly ex-projection prints. The London produced ‘Butcher-Mancunian’ films have faired better and most survive in good quality versions. The British Film Institute at the National Film & Televison Archive (NFTA) in London preserves some of the films and many of the extracted ‘short’ films are held at The North West Film Archive (NWFA) at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

During the 1950s and 1960s, several of the Mancunian films were released onto the burgeoning 16mm collectors’ market. Through the diligence of John E. Blakeley’s grandson, Michael Blakeley, some films that were once classed as missing have been tracked down to private collectors. Some of the films were also released theatrically abroad and consequently it is also possible copies may one day be found in overseas archives or collections.

Our own personal search did reveal a copy of the Norman Evans comedy ‘Under New Management’ being held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in California. The film was deteriorating fast with the last reel already lost. However, as a result of our find the remaining film was repatriated to Britain and the National Film and Television Archive. See Norman Evans in his 'Dentist Sketch' extracted from this film - link at the bottom of the page.

The following list documents the ‘lost’ films
If anyone has copies of these on FILM please contact
Hoyd Publishing.

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John E. Blakeley had a habit of taking extracts from his feature films to make ‘short’ subjects and tantalisingly some of these still exist though the actual source feature is now ‘lost’.

The biggest loss from the ‘Mancunian Films’ canon is the feature film
‘Somewhere in Politics’
which starred
Frank Randle, Tessie O’Shea and Josef Locke.
This has now become the Holy Grail of the Mancunian Films.

All that survives of this film is the 18 minute ‘short’ subject ‘Full House’.

Other Mancunian films for which a search continues are:

'Dodging the Dole'
from 1936 starring Roy Barbour

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'Lets Have a Murder'
from 1950 Starring Jewell & Warriss
In 1959 Blakeley released a 51 minute ‘featurette’ titled ‘Stick ‘em Up’ cut down from the original feature. This shortened version still exists and has been released in the UK on DVD. ‘Stick ‘em Up’ was also the US title for the original 95 minute feature when it was released there in 1950... Somewhere the complete film must survive???

The other Jewell & Warriss starring vehicle 'What A Carry On'
(1950) also only survives in truncated versions. Originally released with an approximate running time of 94 minutes the film was later re-released with a shortened time of 54 minutes (released on DVD in the UK). Three extracted ‘shorts’ also exist.

'Love, Mirth and Melody' – 1934. With Graham Payn, The Royal Merry Four, Little Teddy Grey, Arthur Pond.

'Two Little Drummer Boys' – 1928. Silent. Starring Wee Georgie Wood, Derrick de Marney.

'Laughter and Tears' – 1928. Silent two reels. Starring Pearl Hay.
Just a very brief clip is all that remain of this ‘lost’ film.

Cameo Operas
Series of 12 two-reel operas
Eleven of the twelve are lost
1: The Bohemian Girl: 2: Lily of Killarney: 3: Rigoletto 4: Maritana: 5: Faust. 6: Carmen. 7: La Traviata: 8:Daughter of the Regiment: 9: Martha: 11: The Ring: 12: Samson and Delila:

Any informatiom on any of these films would be welcome.
If you can help please email: Hoyd Publishing

To watch a video giving a brief history of 'Mancunian Films' and the search for the 'Lost' films click the image below:

To see Norman Evans in an extract from 'Under New Management' click the image below: This film survives but is missing the last reel (10 minutes).

For details of other books click on the relevant title

Hooray for Jollywood
The Story of John E. Blakeley & The Mancunian Film Corporation

Wired to the Moon: Frank Randle – A Life
The Biography of music hall and film favourite FRANK RANDLE

Frank Randle’s Film Fun
Randle’s Cartoon Capers culled from the pages of British Comic ‘Film Fun’

Local books
Concerning Ashton-under-Lyne.

About the Authors’ & HOYD Publications

LINKS TO OUR FRIENDS

Email: HOYD Publications

H O M E


A book documenting the Cinemas of
Ashton-under-Lyne
Flickering Memories

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