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GI GENE

Looking for Pictures and Information about the Mitchell Motion Picture Camera

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I'm trying to find photos (color would be a plus) of the Mitchell motion picture camera that was used by the OSS Field Photo Unit and by other combat photographers in WWII. Are there any good books out there about the motion picture cameras used by the US in WWII? Thank you.

 

Cheers,

 

GI Gene

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I'm trying to find photos (color would be a plus) of the Mitchell motion picture camera that was used by the OSS Field Photo Unit and by other combat photographers in WWII. Are there any good books out there about the motion picture cameras used by the US in WWII? Thank you.

 

Cheers,

 

GI Gene

 

Mitchells were the standard for motion picture production before and after the war and big suckers:

 

mitchell.jpg

 

I have seen references to one model called the Mitchell GC (for "government camera") but if and when 35mm cameras were used they probably used whatever was in use by private industry when the war started, which would have included the Mitchell NC (for "newsreel camera"):

 

mitchellnc.jpg

 

For most motion picture needs, the much smaller Bell & Howell Eyemo 35mm would have been used. Here's an Eyemo model shown on wikipedia:

 

eyemo.jpg

 

The 16mm Bell & Howell Filmo cameras were also used, especially for color film.

 

16mm was also the standard for gun cameras. Lately I have been working with some original WWII 16mm gun camera film and I'm amazed at how well the film had held up: I have copies that were made during the war.

 

Now as for the OSS: this week I acquired a 16mm projector, film editing equipment and dozens of 16mm films (some dating back to the 1940's) from a guy who was an OSS agent in WWII. He traveled around the country producing documentaries such as "Dubuque At War" and that was his cover. In fact, his mission was to film places where suspected German agents might congregate. His documentary production would be given good coverage in the local newspaper so that he could haul his camera gear around town without suspicion. He is 91 years old and I spoke with him briefly and it sounds like he was actually doing this sort of work even before war broke out and the OSS was established. He says he had personal contact with FDR, who was in fact personally concerned about America's lack of an intelligence service.



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I got a PM from a member wondering about the above referenced old gentleman's claim of working for the OSS doing domestic spying.

 

As I said, I spoke with him briefly on Thursday and again on Friday. This was at a "living estate sale" where he and his wife, both in their 90's, are getting rid of a lot things accumulated over the decades. I first learned about the guy from the person who is conducting the sale. He approached me a few weeks ago and asked if I had any ideas about the worth of some letters between this old guy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, but that the old guy was reluctant to release them for sale because his work in WWII had never been declassified.

 

So as best as I have been able to piece this together: he started doing some domestic spying work before WWII, essentially working for the Oval Office, reporting to FDR himself, This sounded a bit unlikely to me until tonight when I did some quick google searches and found out about the book "Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage " which one reviewer sums up as "This secret history of World War II reveals an extensive and innovative intelligence network created and managed by Roosevelt himself from the oval office." That certainly backs up some of what I was told about this guy's activities. As for the OSS connection, I suspect that when the Office of the Coordinator of Information was formed by FDR it would have been natural for him to report to that and when part of that morphed into the OSS, the connection may have been kept. He did say he never went to any formal OSS training. I was asked why he would not have been part of the Office of War Information, the propaganda arm that also came from the Office of the Coordinator of Information: well his public film work was not done for the sake of propaganda work: they were almost Chamber of Commerce local boosterism pieces and he actually continued to do some of those after the war. I think one of the films I bought is one of those, but I haven't had a chance to run it yet. Again, that film work was a cover for his misson.

 

I hope to get at least one more chance to talk to this guy. I would love to see some of the correspondence between him and FDR. I know that war memories tend to get a little fuzzy and details confused over the decades, but those letters could be very enlightening. I may have a chance to speak wth him again Saturday.

 

GI GENE: sorry to hijack your thread.



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Wow! There is so much history from that period that has yet to be made public or written down. Looking forward to future posts on this! Thanks for the added details.


Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Wow! There is so much history from that period that has yet to be made public or written down. Looking forward to future posts on this! Thanks for the added details.

 

With GI GENE's indulgence, I will throw in one more thing. This is an excerpt from an historical society's efforts to find a copy of the film our "OSS" guy made about their town. This appeared in a 2005 newsletter. Notice much publicity this film got at the time it was produced. And what struck me was the comments about how every night they filmed the audience at the local movie theater. Of all the films I bought from this guy I've only had a chance to watch a couple and one of them was a mixed bag of what seemed to be an office party, an outdoor event in Hollywood with Bogie and Bacall sitting a couple tables aways from the cameraman, and several shots of the faces of people in an auditorium. These were not the usually crowd shots showing a theater full of people., but rather were closeups showing perhaps three or four people at a time with strong lighting so each was very clearly filmed in living color. If you need something to make a photo to ID someone in that town, this 16mm footage had it.

 

petaluma.jpg



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