Bell & Howell Company, Chicago, Illinois                1915 - 1922



This Four-Hole Pulley 400-foot film magazine for the Bell & Howell 2709 35mm motion picture camera, has some provenance having been used by the Cecil B. De Mille Pictures Corporation, De Mille Studio.




The stamping "De Mille Studio" can be seen alongside the magazine's mount below the Bell & Howell maker's tag:




Cecil B. DeMille, a director and producer best known for his big budget spectacles that featured a "cast of thousands", made what is acknowledged to be Hollywood's first feature-length motion picture based upon its release date, 1914's The Squaw Man.



                            1914 advertisement for The Squaw Man


DeMille is credited as director-general on the picture, although Oscar C. Apfel performed the majority of these duties since he had prior directing experience and this was DeMille's first outing as a film director.  DeMille partnered with Jesse Lasky, Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn), Oscar Apfel and an east coast consortium to form the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company in 1913. Filming of The Squaw Man began on December 29, 1913 with Oscar Apfel as co-director, Alfred Gandolfi as cameraman with Johnny Cramer and Bert Longenecker as assistant cameramen.  DeMille would go on to produce films with Lasky and the pre-Paramount companies of Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and the Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. DeMille left in 1924 in the wake of film censorship and disagreements with studio head Adolf Zukor over spending and production budgets. 

Following DeMille's departure, he established the Cecil B. DeMille Pictures Corporation in Culver City, California. The DeMille Studio, located at 9336 West Washington Boulevard, was previously owned by Thomas Ince who built the Culver Studios on that location in 1918. During the period 1925-1928, DeMille would make fifty-six motion pictures under the DeMille Pictures Corporation name. He would produce three motion pictures with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer between 1929 and 1931, before returning to Paramount in 1932 where he would spend the rest of his career.


                                     De Mille Studio's Administration Building, Culver City, California


           Paramount Famous Lasky Studio, Hollywood, which later became Paramount Pictures, in 1935   


Bell & Howell's Four-Hole film magazines manufactured during the 1915-1922 period are rather hard to come by. Other than cameras such as the Bell & Howell 2709 and the Mitchell for which sales records exist, it's rare to find items that can be attributed to a particular motion picture studio. This is because the vast majority of support equipment such as matte boxes, viewfinders, motors, film magazines and tripods were generally unmarked other than having their maker's tags.

It should be noted, that when dating film magazines such as those from Bell & Howell or Mitchell, pulleys may have been replaced over time and the number of holes or the style of pulley isn't always the definitive indicator of a magazine's age. The pulley style in consideration with other factors such as the rollers, grip aids on the chamber lids, paint finishes, the general construction and information found on the maker's tag all help in determining a magazine's approximate age. Research continues into how serial numbers and paint finishes may relate to the various pulley styles seen. Bell & Howell sales records have been seen noting the serial numbers of film magazines (as well as other camera components) sold with a particular camera. Assuming such a magazine was newly manufactured about the same time the camera was sold, this would ultimately be the best indicator (or an exact indicator if tied to the specific serial number) of a magazine's age to the exclusion of all else.  


Its real age aside, what can be said is that for some period of time, this magazine was associated with the DeMille Pictures Corporation/DeMille Studio. Adding this to company's brief existence, makes this a rather rare and unique piece of cinematic history.


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                                                                         Serial No. 3151                Patent date February 13, 1917









Patent No. 1,215,534 for a "Film Magazine for Cinematograph or Motion Picture Cameras" was granted to Albert S. Howell on February 13, 1917.  Later, magazines manufactured for the civilian market during WW2 would be constructed of wood, since aluminum and other metals were needed for war production.  These typically have a chrome logo shield with simply "Bell & Howell Co., Chicago", sometimes having a serial number and sometimes not.     




                                                   Source: Google Patents


                                                 Source:  Google Patents