Wednesday, August 27, 2014

British Pathé: Unused Film Featuring Cartoonist David Low (1950)

If you go in to about the 19 second mark in this thirty-one second bit of unseen editing-room-floor film, you can watch British cartoonist David Low drawing a live caricature. This was filmed by British Pathé at a Trade Union Congress event at Blackpool, Lancashire in 1950 or maybe 1951.

This is the first time I have seen footage of David Low, one of the most powerful editorial cartoonists of the 20th century, much less getting to see a few seconds of him drawing.

David Low (1891-1963) was born in New Zealand. His parents took him out of school after the death of his older brother. They believed David had been "weakened by over studying." When he was 11 years old, his first cartoon was published: a three panel comic strip in the British publication "Big Budget."

Low began working as a professional cartoonist in 1910, first at the Canterbury Times, and then at The Bulletin, in Sydney, Australia. 1916 saw the publication of a cartoon lampooning the eccentric behavior of Billy Hughes, then Prime Minister of Australia. He became very well known for his cartoons criticizing Hughes, so much so that Hughes himself called Low a "bastard" to his face.

THE BILLY BOOK, a collection of Low's cartoons, was published two years later. He was asked to come over to London by one of the owners of The London Star newspaper. By 1919, Low had moved to London and working there.

He moved to the much more conservative Evening Standard in 1927 after its owner, Lord Beaverbrook, guaranteed him there would be no editorial interference.

He became widely regarded during the 30s for cartoons criticizing the rise of the Axis powers. He was such a well known political cartoonist, that it's alleged that Goebbels put Low's name in the Nazi's BLACK BOOK -- a compilation of names of people to be arrested upon Germany's successful occupation of the Uniter Kingdom.

From Wikipedia:

His works are featured in many British history textbooks. One of Low's most famous cartoons, Rendezvous, was first published in the Evening Standard on 20 September 1939. It satirises the cynicism which lay at the heart of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, depicting Hitler and Soviet dictatorJoseph Stalin bowing politely before each other after their joint invasion of Poland, but nevertheless greeting each other respectively as "the scum of the earth" and "the bloody assassin of the workers".[5] On 1 September, the Germans invaded Poland from the west and, on 17 September, the Soviets invaded from the east
The Harmony Boys of 2 May 1940[6] depicts Hitler, Stalin, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and Spanish dictator Francisco Franco "harmonizing" and getting along quite well. When this cartoon was published, the German invasion of the Soviet Union was still more than a year in the future. 
His satirical works met much criticism in the British public eye. The British press called him a "war monger," and many citizens felt disdain for his depictions of appeasement.

He left The Standard in 1950, which is about the time this footage was shot. He went to the Daily Herald for 3 years, then to the Manchester Guardian.

David Low was knighted in 1962. He died a year later, in London. The Guardian described him as "the dominant cartoonist of the western world."

From the description of the video:

Trade Union Congress at Blackpool, Lancashire. 
MS delegates entering hall. CU Morgan Phillips and Alice Bacon. CU cartoonist David Low and Mr. J. B. Figgins (secretary of NUR). MS Mr. Elvin (ACT). Mr. Sandison (Equity) and Miss Rosamund John (Equity). MS Mr. Elvin (ACT). Mr. Sandison (Equity) and Miss Rosamund John (Equity). Miss John talking and gesticulating. CU comedian Vic Oliver (of Variety Artists Federation, also son-in-law of Winston Churchill). MS Low sketching Sir Luke Fawcett (Building Trade). CU Low. CU sketch of Sir Luke Fawcett. MS delegates collecting voting papers. MS chairman of TUC Mr. A. Roberts. CU Roberts smiling. MS Arthur Deakin (Transport and General Workers) arriving. CU Arthur Deakin, looking puzzled. 
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