Tuesday, March 28, 2017

George Francis Barnes Jr.

I've been watching some of the extras on DVDs hoping to come up with ideas for blog posts. The Picture Snatcher DVD that I've mentioned a couple of times already has a newsreel on it in addition to the shorts I've blogged about and a couple of trailers. Well, actually it only has a piece of a newsreel, since the clip is just under a minute. It's about the arrest of George Francis Barnes Jr., better known as Machine Gun Kelly. That's him in the photo above, about to be put on a plane to Oklahoma City to stand trial. Note that it's an American Airways plane, and as you can guess from the clip, it's the sort of smallish plane that seems standard from movies of the 1930s; two wheels on the front and what looks like one under the tail, with the floor of the fuselage on an angle when people board and only needing a couple of steps up from the ground.

The other interesting thing to note from the newsreel clip is that it was made by "Hearst Metrotone News". William Randolph Hearst had also founded Cosmopolitan Productions, in part as a vehicle for his mistress Marion Davies, and Cosmopolitan Productions were distributed by MGM until 1934, when Cosmopolitan switched to distribution by Warner Bros. The newsreels, however, were actually distributed by Fox (not yet combined with Twentieth Century of course) until 1934, at which point distribution switched to MGM. Kelly was arrested in September 1933, so I'd assume that the newsreel clip on Picture Snatcher was released by Fox, with Hearst Metrotone retaining ownership. I don't know how Warner Home Video ended up with all of these. They could have been part of the MGM holdings Ted Turner acquired, or perhaps ended up with Warner Home Video some other way.

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