SCOPITONE IS A TYPE OF JUKEBOX featuring a musical and visual performance on 16-millimeter film. The first Scopitone films were made in France by Cameca, among them was Serge Gainsbourg’s Le Poinçonneur Des Lilas filmed in 1958. Scopitones spread to West Germany, and went on to appear in bars in England, where the Tornados’ Telstar was a favorite, vying with such local huts as Pussycat A Go-Go! for customer’s change
By 1966, reportedly 800 machines were installed in bars and nightclubs in the United States. But the biggest musical stars of the 1960s were never released on Scopitone, although several well-known pop acts did appear. Such as the Exciters’ Tell Him and Neil Sedaka’s Calendar Girl. In one recording from 1966, Nancy Sinatra and a troupe of go-go girls shimmy to These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.
I have little real interest in Scopitone except for the few rock-related video that they produced. I came upon them while researching something else and found that I vaguely remember them from my teen years in the ‘60s. I jut thought that I would share a couple that I found interesting:
The first is Le Hully Gully by French singer and actress Line Renaud (pronounced leen roh-noh). And no, it is not the same song as (Baby) Hully Gully made famous by the Olympics (1959) and the Beach Boys (1965).
I couldn’t resist its sheer silliness! Now you know and I know that Ms. Renaud knows her boys ain’t into girls, but she sure doesn’t act like she knows. Apparently, this was a hit for her in 1959 but this video appears to have been made in the mid-’60s.
The next one is credited to Stacy Adams & The Rockabilly Boys and is titled Pussycat A Go Go. I am assuming that Ms. Adams is the dancer in the orange two-piece suit with the black bouffant. I have no idea who the Rockabillys are.
This number, a soulless rehash, er, medley of early ’60s dance hits, looks like a run-through by stand-ins for a number that was left out of one of Elvis’ movies. I could see the Colonel trying to insert this into Spinout in 1966. I’m guessing this was also made in the mid ’60s.
By the end of the 1960s, the popularity of the Scopitone had faded, and the last film was made at the end of 1978. Many Scopitone films have been released on DVD or made available on the internet.
Alas, there are no 45s or LPs to accompany these marvels of the past. Otherwise, I could have dragged this on for several more paragraphs. So let’s just forget that and instead let’s all hully gully with pussycat a go-go!
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of a section of a Scopitone machine, showing its jukebox-like selection panel. The photo here is the top half of the machine, showing the video screen at the top.