A movie on journalism in Dundee will return to the big screen over a century after drawing hundreds to the city’s cinemas.
Dundee Courier – The Production of a Great Daily Newspaper is one of the oldest films of a working newspaper in the world and premiered at the New Electric Theatre in Nethergate in 1911.
Commissioned to celebrate the Dundee Courier’s 50 years as a daily newspaper, it was seen at the Hawkhill Picture Palace before travelling across Courier Country.
It even ventured as far as Inverness where people were instructed: “The best film ever made – don’t fail to see it”.
DC Thomson himself even suggested to the 1911 coronation committee they should show The Courier film in London.
The film illustrates the various activities – from reporting, editing, setting the linotype to the final printing at 48,000 copies per hour.
In addition, there is footage of a Dundee versus Raith Rovers football match.
After its five minutes of fame, the Gaumont film lay in DC Thomson’s Meadowside HQ basement until 1987, after which it was lovingly restored by Scottish Screen Archive, now part of the National Library of Scotland.
Friends of Dundee City Archives will show the film on the big screen at the Steps Theatre on Thursday at 12.15pm and 1.15pm.
Iain Flett from the Friends said: “One of the things that fascinates me is that this pre-Great War film is full of men.
“In spite of the exhibition in McManus Galleries covering the worldwide tour 17 years beforehand of DC Thomson journalists Marie Imandt and Bessie Maxwell, I recall that the only females shown are a well dressed woman placing an announcement and the schoolgirl street vendors at the end.
“In just four years the scene would totally change.
“I recall the total horror recorded in the minutes of the Railway Clerks’ Association in the City Archives that women would be hired as the men were called away to the slaughter of the trenches.
“Other highlights are the short introductory tram ride through the streets of Dundee and the simple fact that at nearly 18 minutes long this is a world away from one of the first short shaky amateur films of the crossing of the Tay Bridge just 12 years earlier.
“Football fans are intrigued by the kit and style of play in the Dundee and Raith Rovers game.
“And, rightly and with pride, the film looks at the introduction of new technology, which is something for the present generation to consider as we wonder, as in the V&A exhibition ‘Hello, Robot’, how we are going to interact with it.
“In 1911 reliable motor cars, although expensive, were on the streets alongside hand and horse carts.
“Electric street lighting would still take another 50 years to replace gas lighting.
“The most advanced printing presses from America, driven by electricity, were half a mile from weaving and spinning machines driven by steam engine and leather belt.
“Expensive telephones and telegraphs were there for business and the wealthy but an efficient postal service was dealing with transporting tons of handwritten personal and business letters and postcards.”
One famous scene in the film is a shot of a small boy smoking.
The cheeky young news vendor grins as he puffs away on a cigarette – unaware he’s reading the newspaper upside down.