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Before music videos...there was Scopitone!

Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikipedia
Scopitone was a jukebox that showed 16mm color musical films with a magnetic soundtrack. They were popular in the early 1960s and were the predecessor of music videos. Before Scopitone there were soundies jukeboxes that showed 16mm black and white musical shorts with an optical soundtrack. 
Here are a couple of Scopitone films for your perusal...
Beside music,  many of the Scopitone films had a risqué component to them and would give you quick teases of some of the girl's girly parts. 
Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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Yeah.  Mendelson's Surplus in Dayton, Ohio used to have all the spare parts and chassis left over from when the Scopiotone assembly line shut down.  I remember going through there and seeing at least a dozen chassis and bins of parts.

Of course, that was 30 years ago and it's all long gone. 

I also had several 1200 foot reels of built-up Scopiotone subjects, but they eventually went vinegar despite my best efforts.  They were irritating to project, as they were "flipped" left to right in printing to make the projection path within the jukebox much more compact.

Not a particularly robust or long lived format/display media, but a unique novelty.

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Red Skelton   Photo: eBay

Yes, had read the films were printed backwards. I've got a few BW arcade films that are backwards. But no Scopitone, they are nudie cuties. Must have been the same principal.

Did you ever see a coin arcade machine? Did it look like the Scopitone?

I had read the machines that played soundies offered no choice. I guess you got the next film that was up. 

The arcade peep shows used mainly 400 footers from what I can tell. The film had a notch every 50 feet or so for another quarter to be inserted. (See notch below)



What happened to your VS films? Did they get trashed?

Very few Scopitone films on eBay. They go for $50 to $150 each.

Scopitone 16mm Film Coin Op Juke Box with content Rare Circa 1950's - 60's | eBay


Photo: eBay

Circa 1950s Scopitone Advertising Poster | eBay

...never heard of Mendelson's, but I guess they were klinda a big deal.

Mendelson's Surplus in Dayton, Ohio - Google Search

YT has some videos on them. I will have to check them out. Just found them.

When you think about it, it is pretty amazing it can thread and rewind the films automatically on demand. 



Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
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Yes, despite my best efforts, the films had to be thrown out.  Even with molecular sieves and frequent cleaning, the base just exuded into fine white crystals and began to curl-up into brittle pencil-shaped ropes.  The film was carelessly printed and processed;  as cheap as possible by the Scopiotone people, so it was fatally flawed from the beginning.

Mendelson's used to also have thousands of those R8 and S8 endless loop projectors;  technicolor and a second brand I can't remember.  Walls were lined with them and every art student in Ohio would go down and buy a dozen or so and make these projection exhibitions with repeating loops. 

You're a little too late;  Mendelson's closed in 2020 when a group of Chinese investors bought his warehouses full of parts and then they sold out the remainders in the main store.  I went by shortly before they closed for old times sake and it was pure trash left over with sky-high prices.  End of an era...

Edited by Frank Wylie
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Wow, too bad it was not all archived in photos. Mendelson's sounds amazing. I looked on eBay. Does not look like Mendelson's had a catalog.

Never thought about the processing as a component to film going bad. I thought cine' films was pretty regulated as far as processing. 

Press photos were notorious for poor processing. They just needed it for the next newspaper then they didn't care.


Poorly processed press photo


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