[This article was originally entitled "The First Fiction Film"]
Albert’s Treasure Box
Albert's Treasure Box (1949) must hold a special place in the club’s history and affections, for it was the first fiction film to be attempted and the first club film after the war. H.A.Postlethwaite, who was to receive honorary life membership of Bristol Cine Society many years later, wrote the amusing little story. An engaging "down and out", on the look out for an easy buck, finds a box floating in the oily waters near Bristol Bridge and is finally rewarded for his dishonesty. Apart from having an unfortunate anti-climax, the film made good use of dockland locations and had quality black and white pictures of commendable steadiness. The Bristol Amateur Cinematographers deserved the commendation from the Ten Best judges. The film stock was presented by M.W. Dunscombe Limited. Sound had not yet become a "must" and the film was made as a silent 16mm production.
It was directed by Robert Allen. Albert was played by Jack Farran and other parts by W.L.Hewitt, Betty Tripp, J.Dickens, G.Bolwell, E.J.Worsell and L.V.Withers.
Nearly thirty years later, Bob Allen wrote from his home in Ontario, Canada:
"As a working, class Joe with my first second-hand turret-head Emil 8mm and hardly able to afford the film for it, I was certainly out of place midst the architects, doctors, businessmen etc., with their 16mm Paillards and unlimited amounts of film. Albert's Treasure Box was a classic example of all kinds of bods making promises to do things and very few coming through. A member by the name of Postlethwaite and myself sat up for many hours and edited it as best we could. The end result shows what happens when working without a prepared script. Anyway we had a lot of fun and that was the main reason for the enterprise."
Spurred on by Treasure Box a much more ambitious movie was then attempted. Impromptu (1951) was subtitled "a short composition written on the spur of the moment" and had a story of almost unrelieved gloom. A celebrated concert pianist suffers a badly injured hand when she and her husband are mugged - in modern day parlance - in a dark Bristol alley. She cannot play again; but her daughter grows up to be a great pianist too.
While her mother and father are in the audience at one of her wartime concerts, daughter and mother are killed when the theatre is hit by a bomb. Father is left with his memories and recordings of his wife and daughter.
Production and story Clifford H.Stephens
Directed by Robert Allen
Camera George Watts
Props and continuity Ken Pople
Other members of the unit were A.E.Thorne, A.E.Lord, A.E.Fuller, E.J.Worsell, R.Hallett and W.F.Sage.
The parts were played by Angela Stephens the producer’s daughter - Arthur Clements, Jennifer Tanner and Robert Parsons.
The film was considered as something of a failure by members of the society and it would appear that interest then waned. Perhaps the film failed because it took a feature length story and compressed it to a short. Being a silent film while the theme was musical hardly helped but it is difficult to see why the members were so despondent. Perhaps it was thanks to the annual Ten Best film competition and the need for putting on a presentation of the winners in Bristol that kept things ticking over. There was also some rivalry: there was an enthusiastic group calling itself the Bristol Phoenix Cine Club but in the early fifties Phoenix disbanded and another 9.5 mm group folded.