Catalogue of papers of the McCarthy Agency

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Michael Hughes

2011

Department of Special Collections
Bodleian Library
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Table of Contents

Introduction
A    Reviews of films distributed by major distributors, 1936-68
B    Film reviews for other distributors, 1936-67
C    Other papers, 1935-76


Papers of the McCarthy Agency, 1936-68

Abstract:
Film reviews produced by the McCarthy Agency 1936-68, with some other papers 1935-76

Shelfmarks: MSS. Eng. c. 7387, d. 3785-3810

Extent: 27 shelfmarks

Biographical History

Harold McCarthy was born on 28th October 1892 in Hackney, North London, the youngest of four brothers and three sisters. He left school at 15 and worked in Fleet Street on several publications.

In 1916, in company with his older brother Charles, he volunteered for the Honourable Artillery Company and trained as a gunner. In France he was the lead driver of a six horse 25 pounder gun team, serving at Ypres and other battles with the rank of Bombadier. When the war ended, he was sent to Germany with the Army of Occupation until he was demobbed in 1920.

Back in civilian life McCarthy started work with the Bioscope, a film trade paper. In 1922 he married May Greening, also from Hackney, and they eventually settled in Finchley. They had two sons. Harold McCarthy was made Circulation Manager of the Bioscope in 1927, but the magazine did not survive the depression and it closed in 1932 leaving him unemployed.

With his knowledge of the film business, McCarthy identified the need for cinema owners to have independent assessments of the numerous films available, so he toured the country offering such a service and started to supply reports. From this beginning he took an office at 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, at the heart of the film trade, and also took on the totally reliable Miss Violet Worth as his secretary. She steadfastly remained with him until they both retired in 1968.

The business thrived and peaked just after the second world war when the number of independent cinema owners was at its height. The clientele consisted not only of cinemas in the UK and Eire, but also India, Pakistan and a few African countries. McCarthy's output was very extensive as he saw all films from the major blockbusters to the second rate ‘B’ pictures and quite often saw three or even four films in a day. He averaged six films a week, 52 weeks of the year.

With the post-war boom in the cinema, the big cinema chains started to acquire premises from independent establishments. By the start of the 1950s McCarthy's clientele was in decline and the trend continued, accelerated by the advent of television. In 1962 the lease on the Shaftesbuy Avenue premises expired and the building was redeveloped, so McCarthy took an office in Whitfield Street until he decided to call it a day in 1968.

Harold McCarthy was known for his dry sense of humour and for his brevity on the telephone but never spoke about himself. He was always a gardener, being particularly fond of chrysanthemums and was vice-chairman of the local society. He died on 26 July 1970. (From information supplied by Brian McCarthy.)

Scope and Content

The vast bulk of the papers comprises typescript reviews produced by McCarthy. There are a few other film-related papers found with, but not directly connected to the reviews.

Arrangement

The reviews are arranged by distributing company, and then chronologically by the date of trade showing. This reflects the general arrangement in which they were found; the trade showing is the date most consistently appearing on the reviews.

Custodial History

The papers were owned by a family which ran a now defunct provincial independent cinema in Bristol.

Acquisition

Purchased from Ed Maggs Booksellers, 2008.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. d. 3785, fols. 1-2].

Personal names (NCA Rules)

McCarthy | Harold | 1892-1970 | film reviewer

Corporate names (NCA Rules)

McCarthy Agency | film reviewers | London

Subjects (LCSH)

Motion pictures -- reviews

A   Reviews of films distributed by major distributors, 1936-68


British Lion, 1936-44
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3785
Extent: 303 leaves

British Lion, 1945-64
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3786
Extent: 278 leaves

Columbia, 1936-47, 1950, 1954-5, 1960, 1968
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3787
Extent: 266 leaves

General Film Distributors, 1937-49
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3788
Extent: 279 leaves

General Film Distributors (GFD), 1949-55
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3789
Extent: 322 leaves

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1936-50
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3790
Extent: 355 leaves

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1951-68
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3791
Extent: 385 leaves

Paramount, 1936-47
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3792
Extent: 487 leaves

Paramount, 1948-68
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3793
Extent: 383 leaves

Pathé, 1941-9
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3794
Extent: 266 leaves

Associated British-Pathé, 1949-59
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3795
Extent: 378 leaves

Radio Pictures, 1936-45
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3796
Extent: 390 leaves

Radio Pictures, 1946-58
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3797
Extent: 298 leaves

J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors, 1955-68
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3798
Extent: 335 leaves

Scope and Content:

Initially (1955-7) described as JARFID, thereafter as Rank.


20th Century Fox, 1936-50
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3799
Extent: 596 leaves

20th Century Fox, 1951-68
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3800
Extent: 418 leaves

United Artists, 1936-45, 1950, 1955-68
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3801
Extent: 328 leaves

Warner Bros., 1936-48
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3802
Extent: 375 leaves

Warner Bros., 1949-59
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3803
Extent: 274 leaves

Warner-Pathé Distributors, 1959-68
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3804
Extent: 290 leaves

B   Film reviews for other distributors, 1936-67


Distributors A
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3805
Extent: 462 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises reviews of films distributed by

  • (fols. 1-119 ) Associated Board of Film Distribution (ABFD), 1936-53
  • (fols. 120-9) A.C.E., 1936-40
  • (fols. 130-67) Adelphi Films, 1949-55
  • (fol. 168) Advance, 1947
  • (fols. 169-70 ) Amanda, 1965-6
  • (fols. 171-85) Ambassador, 1937-52
  • (fols. 186-270) Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors, 1950-62
  • (fols. 271-354) Anglo-American, 1938-47
  • (fols. 355-68) Apex, 1950-3
  • (fols. 369-94) Archway, 1952-61, 1964
  • (fols. 395-6) Arrow, 1947-8
  • (fols. 397-456) Associated British, 1937-40
  • (fol. 457) Astarte, 1957
  • (fols. 458-61) Astral, 1955, 1957, 1961
  • (fol. 462) Avon, 1940

Distributors B-C
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3806
Extent: 395 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises reviews of films distributed by

  • (fols. 1-4) A. Baulch, 1963-5
  • (fols. 5-13) Bargate, 1961-5
  • (fols. 14-18) BLC/British Lion, 1964-5
  • (fols. 19-22) BLC/Columbia, 1962, 1964-5
  • (fols. 23-6) Border, 1966-7
  • (fol. 27) British Australian, 1945
  • (fols. 28-40 ) British Foundation, 1944-50
  • (fol. 41) British Screen Service, 1939
  • (fols. 42-194) Butcher, 1936-66
  • (fols. 195-8) Carlyle, 1943, 1946, 1948, 1961
  • (fol. 199) Cattermoul, 1961
  • (fols. 200-9) Children's Film Foundation, 1964-7
  • (fol. 210) Cinesound, 1938
  • (fols. 211-13) Colmore, 1937-8
  • (fols. 214-301) Compton/Compton Cameo, 1961-7
  • (fols. 302-24) Connoisseur, 1959, 1961, 1963-6
  • (fols. 325-65) Contemporary, 1959-67
  • (fols. 366-8) Coronel, 1937-8, 1943
  • (fols. 369-81) Cross Channel, 1957-63
  • (fols. 382-4) Crusader, 1963
  • (fols. 385-6) Curry, 1939
  • (fols. 387-95) Curzon, 1956-7, 1959-62, 1964

Distributors D-E
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3807
Extent: 400 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises reviews of films distributed by

  • (fol. 1-15) Do You Know Films, 1946, 1948-50, 1957, 1961-5
  • (fols. 16-38) Eagle Films, 1963-7
  • (fols. 39-54) Eagle Lion, 1944-6
  • (fols. 55-76) Ealing, 1943-7
  • (fols. 77-8) Empire, 1946-8
  • (fols. 79-124) Equity, 1936-42, 1944, 1946, 1948-9, 1952, 1954-5, 1957
  • (fols. 125-249) Eros, 1949-1960
  • (fol. 250) European, 1939
  • (fols. 251-400) Exclusive, 1936-9, 1946-56, 1958-9

Distributors F-G
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3808
Extent: 526 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises reviews of films distributed by

  • (fols. 1-4) Falcon, 1950-1
  • (fols. 5-8) Famous, 1946, 1954, 1961
  • (fols. 10-43) Fancey, 1955-7, 1959-60, 1962-5
  • (fols. 9, 44) E.J. Fancy, 1954
  • (fols. 45-8) Federated, 1941, 1944, 1946
  • (fols. 49-64) Fidelity, 1937-9, 1943
  • (fols. 65-76) Films de France, 1953-7, 1959-60
  • (fols. 77-8) Film Traders, 1946
  • (fols. 79-176) FNFD, 1936-9
  • (fols. 177-354) Gala, 1955-67
  • (fols. 355-64) GBD, 1936-7
  • (fols. 365-7) Gerrard, 1956-7
  • (fols. 368-421) Golden Era, 1961-7
  • (fols. 422-525) Grand National, 1939-40, 1944-9, 1951-7, 1960-4, 1967

Distributors H-P
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3809
Extent: 327 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises reviews of films distributed by

  • (fols. 1-6) Hillcrest, 1959-61
  • (fol. 7) H & S, 1950
  • (fols. 8-20) Independent, 1936-7, 1944-5, 1951
  • (fols. 21-4) Intercontinental, 1956-8
  • (fols. 25-64) International, 1936-9, 1943, 1946-52
  • (fols. 65-7) Leap, 1965
  • (fols. 68-9) Liberty, 1937, 1939
  • (fol. 70) LIP, 1967
  • (fols. 71-3) Majestic, 1942-4
  • (fols. 74-82) Mancunian, 1937-8, 1948-50
  • (fols. 83-5) Mayfair, 1960-1
  • (fols. 86-97) Metropole, 1937-8
  • (fols. 98-150) Miracle, 1955-66
  • (fols. 151-87) Monarch, 1948-55, 1965, 1967
  • (fols. 188-201) Mondial (initially Supra Mondial), 1957-63
  • (fol. 202) MRA, 1961
  • (fols. 203-9) National Prov, 1936-7
  • (fols. 210-86) New Realm, 1940-53, 1955-8, 1960-3, 1965-6
  • (fols. 287-90) Orb, 1957, 1959
  • (fols. 291-3) Palladium, 1937-8
  • (fols. 294-301) Panton Films, 1962-5
  • (fols. 302-5) Piccadilly, 1946, 1948
  • (fols. 306-9) Pioneer, 1937, 1946
  • (fols. 310-21) Planet, 1962-7
  • (fol. 322) Plato Films, 1957
  • (fols. 323-7) Premier, 1944, 1946, 1948-9

Distributors R-W
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. d. 3810
Extent: 201 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises reviews of films distributed by

  • (fols. 1-2) Regal, 1961
  • (fols. 3-5) Regent, 1955, 1957-8
  • (fols. 6-61) Renown, 1938-52, 1956-60
  • (fols. 62-124) Republic, 1950-6
  • (fols. 125-6) Reunion, 1936
  • (fol. 127) Screenspace, 1966
  • (fols. 128-9) Sebricon, 1962, 1966
  • (fols. 130-45) SF Film Distribution, 1961-4
  • (fol. 146) Sherwood, 1948
  • (fols. 147-51) Small Films, 1958-9, 1961
  • (fols. 152-8) Sound City, 1937
  • (fol. 159) Sovexport, 1964
  • (fol. 160) Spickernell, 1939
  • (fol. 161) Stirling, 1948
  • (fol. 162) Technique, 1938
  • (fols. 163-6) Tenser, 1967
  • (fols. 167-70) Twickenham, 1936-7
  • (fols. 171-9) Unifilms, 1960-2
  • (fols. 180-1) United Film Corporation, 1964
  • (fols. 182-3) Unity, [1936], 1939
  • (fol. 184) Valiant, 1950
  • (fols. 185-6) Victor, 1939
  • (fols. 187-8) Viking, 1937-8
  • (fols. 189-201) Wardour, 1936-7

C   Other papers, 1935-76


Scope and Content:

Miscellaneous papers found with the reviews.


Miscellaneous papers, 1935-76
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7387
Extent: 40 leaves

Scope and Content:

Comprises

  • (fols. 1-35) British Board of Film Classification monthly lists of films passed for exhibition, 1935, 1942-3
  • (fol. 36) printed programme for 'The Drum', 1938
  • (fol. 37) typescript programme for 'Come Back to Me', 1946
  • (fol. 38) manuscript list of films, c. 1960
  • (fol. 39) typescript list of films available, c.1965
  • (fol. 40) BBC transmission promotion sheet for 'Master of the World', 1976

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
01 November 2011