An amazing day with David Guest

#1 by Ian White , Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:46 pm

Last September I got the urge to film both the Isle of Man steam and the Manx Electric , railways. I had filmed these on super 8 back in 1974, and on digging out my box of films from ages past, I was delighted to see that the colours on the old kodachrome /ektachrome footage were as good as ever.

Scanning the listings on ebay revealed a bell & Howell dual gauge (silent) projector on offer, which managed to find its way to me for a very reasonable sum . The colours on screen were great, but the sharpness seemed to have suffered a little in the intervening forty years and despite the overall quality of the the footage being acceptable, I felt an overwhelming need to return to the island to have another go .

My first thought was to use one of my unmentionable cameras. Undeniably the quality available from these is excellent and the running costs are minimal. But, truth to tell, I always feel that things are not quite right when viewing 'homegrown' HD footage on my large screen and much prefer the results obtained by switching in the 'old movies' filter, ( albeit set on its lowest setting ) when 'filming' . This also gives me a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which I love.

And at that point, it hit me. how stupid was it to buy a top-notch HD unmentionable and then switch it to cinema mode with an old movies filter to make it look like footage had been shot on real film. Why not just use real film?

The economics don't stack up, but the results are a real trip down memory lane. And what price the joy and satisfaction obtained from handling a real 16mm film camera and shooting real film?

It dawned on me that I would need a projector and so I purchased, from the only source other than ebay that I knew of, an old Elf RM1 that came with all the leads, a spare reel and a spare lamp- together with a cartoon to test it with.

The cartoon ran through the elf without any problems and the sound seemed reasonable enough. As my own footage is silent, and I only bought the machine to view my own footage, the sound capabilities didn't really seem important.

I ought to have known better though. At around this time I became aware of Umit Mesut and Cine Real - a group down Hackney way , keeping 16mm projection alive.
I also found Reel Magic. and before too long, the urge to find and screen 'proper' films manifested itself.

Scanning the forum topics and posts I came across a list of films for sale, furnished by David Guest. And on that list were several films of interest, but the one that sang out the most was a colour print of Seven Brides For Seven brothers.

Following the advice of various forum members ( thank you guys! ) I contacted David and purchased the film for a very reasonable sum indeed. The film arrived, beautifully and most securely packaged, a couple of days later. The print condition was excellent. The colours were stunning. The sound was very disappointing , with pops, crackles and muffles and all manner of weird noises.

I sent David a text telling him what was happening and he replied a few minutes later to say that my projector was at fault. The sound when he screened the film prior to sale and despatch, was very good on his machine. David gave me a list of things to check. Cleaning various things got rid of the crackles and pops but the sound was very top and bottom and very little middle. Seemed a little strange to me, given that I had purchased a 'fully serviced, excellent condition machine' ( their words, not mine) from a reputable source.

Intent on getting to the bottom of the problem I purchased a second film from David - Miracle on 34th street - and that must have arrived before my cheque even got to him. Again, beautifully and securely packaged. David described the quality as 'good'. But it wasn't good. It was what I would describe as superb. Apart from the odd very light lines at the very beginning of the first reel, there isn't a mark on it. And only one splice where reels have been joined. The contrast and sharpness are beyond reproach. BUT, the sound was all top and bottom again, and the volume levels had a mind of their own.

So, was it the films or was it the projector? after all, the bugs bunny cartoon seemed ok.

Still determined to solve the 'mystery', I bought a second projector - an Elf NT1 in lovely cosmetic condition and hardly any wear, hoping it would cure the sound problems.
It was no better. Not wanting to believe both machines were faulty , and having nothing to compare them to, I began to believe that optical sound on 16mm sucked, and resolved to live with it.

Further film purchases were made, Again from David, and all were much better than described and all with the usual superb service, and all with sound that sucked.

Then one day, on the forum, a post and a link from the man himself appeared ,telling us anyone wanting a mint projector would be daft not to go after 'this one'.

I duly won the 'Mint' elf and arranged with David to visit his place to pick up the projector and some more films.

Traffic on the M62 was heavy and I finally arrived at David's home mid-morning. After a very warm welcome and the best mug of tea I have had in years, David gave me a tour of his buildings.

What an Aladdin's cave!! Hundreds and hundreds of films and lots of projectors, reels, screens , brand new unmentionable machines, unmentionable silver discs, posters, books, memorabilia - the list goes on.

I was privileged to be shown a most magnificent fairground organ built in France in 1902 , I believe, and lovingly and beautifully restored to pristine condition by David himself. A demonstration of a smaller organ was a real treat but even that was eclipsed by his latest project - a large fairground organ, being built entirely from scratch by David himself. The project is coming along very nicely and the craftsmanship is nothing short of superb. Beautifully crafted frames, bellows, wind chests and home-made pipes. The craftsmanship is as good as that on any church pipe organ or cinema organ I have ever seen, be the builder Binns, Mander, Cavaille-coll , compton, conacher or even the great Father Willis himself.

The projector was everything David described it as. Not a mark on it. And no dust anywhere. Absolutley pristine.
To show his faith in its abilities David used it to screen a few minutes of his James Bond Gold Finger print. An absolutely breathtaking print with stunning colour and sound as sharp and as clear as a bell. Needless to say he had no intentions of parting with it. If poltergeist sold for a grand, this print would sell for twice/three times that. it was big screen cinema quality - the quality of print you would't hesitate to screen for paying customers because there would be no chance of any complaints or grumbles.


Browse through the films? no problem if you have a spare week! There are just so many of them. And some real gems if you look carefully.
I came away with a cracking showboat print, hindle wakes, the great rupert, make a wish, Tit-for-Tat, Harlow and Gentlemen prefer blondes.
All at very reasonable prices and all, with the exception of the Monroe/Russel film, in excellent condition, no mould, no vinegar.
The Marilyn Monroe print is in excellent condition, very sharp image and excellent sound, but it is going pink/red, hence the low, low price. Yellows and skin tones are still very good and there is still a little blue here and there. nevertheless, a very enjoyable film.

And of course, the sound on this projector is excellent. It produces an even tone across the range with plenty of 'power' if needed.
In the few days I have owned this machine I have screened show boat three times, 7Brides twice and all the rest once. And the sound has been very good or excellent on them all. It really has put the enjoyment back in viewing 16mm.

David says he will have all his films labelled, spooled and sorted in to various price categories in time for blackpool. All I can say, in the nicest possible way, is good luck with that David! I don't envy you that task!

In all, I spent five very enjoyable hours at David's home. What he doesn't know about films and projectors isn't worth knowing and with his permission, will be visiting again soon.

For your further dismay I shall post reviews and pictures of the films mentioned as soon as I have fathomed out how to get screen shots as good as the ones you guys post. ( assuming i haven't been banned for posting this epic tome.)


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#2 by Andrew Woodcock , Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:08 pm

Wow, quite an adventure there Ian, I must say!

It's brilliant that David has restored your Faith in the 16mm optical track, and it sounds as though you've now got some real gems there Ian and, no doubt, with many more to come!

Not bad for what started out as a curious urge to screen some old silent home movies!! 😀😀😀

We look forward to your photographs btw, sharing your day out with us all here.:))


"C'Mon Baggy, Get With The Beat"


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Last edited 10.24.2016 | Top

RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#3 by Ian White , Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:18 pm

Thanks for that, Andrew. The 'new' projector has made all the difference and has gone a long way towards restoring my faith in 16mm. But David also talked about some things that made me question the long-term future of collecting in 16mm.

There appears to be far more activity on the super 8 scene and the quality you have demonstrated on here has been so good that I reckon I stand more chance of getting good stuff on super 8 than I do on 16mm. I can't give up 16mil, but I can start super 8!

To that end I am looking seriously for a quality projector and all recommendations and suggestions would be extremely welcome.


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#4 by Andrew Woodcock , Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:26 pm

Do some research first Ian, then come back to us all with your shortlist.
I am certain plenty here will give you their advice on each of your chosen possibilities for the screening of Super 8mm sound films.

Super 8mm has always seemed to have more of the general public's interest. Perhaps that is more to do with the home movie market than the screening of package movies?

Either way, it's all film, it's all projected from very big reels and we love it, whatever the gauge!


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#5 by Dave Guest , Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:24 am

thankyou Ian for your very kind words and yes you are welcome anytime I am off tomorrow to pick up a very large collection of films which I told you about when you came over last week ,you will have first chance of sat night and sunday morning plus the others I mentioned has I already have these as you well know .the xenons projectors which you sowed an interest in are here when ever your ready should you wish to purchase one .I have spent 4 days now packing up films and marking them all up for blackpool .once I get November 5th over I will start loading up the lorry for blackpool ,once again thanks for you kind words



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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#6 by Dave Guest , Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:26 am

the organ which ian seen


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#7 by David Skillern , Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:52 am

I didn't spend a whole day with Mr Guest earlier this year - just an hour after my drive from South Wales when I picked up my Bell and Howell 16mm TQ1 - which for the price is an excellent machine - a real workhorse. What I briefly saw - was amazing - so much stock - from the floor to the ceiling - i have since. bought a few 16mm prints from Mr Guest and i'm looking forward to hopefully pick up a few more in Blackpool in a few weeks.



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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#8 by Del Phillipson ( deleted ) , Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:21 am

Ian, what a fantastic read for a fellow film collector, so pleased for you and not surprised david sorted you out and a future welcome to super 8, it's like MCFC it's the future


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#9 by Andrew Woodcock , Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:41 am

Hmmm,not sure about that Del the way we're shaping of late! 😂😂😂😂


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#10 by Paul Barker , Tue Oct 25, 2016 1:51 pm

this post is of no suprise to me. i visited Davids early this year and can only confirm what Ian has said. always a great choice of films and equipment. anyone who can get to Blackpool in a few weeks time for the film fair is in for a treat. how anyone can let this event pass them by is a mystery to me. no ebay silly prices. plenty of great great bargains to be had and an excellent time to be had by all who make the effort.


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#11 by Andrew Woodcock , Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:15 pm

Indeed!


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#12 by Nigel Higgins , Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:56 pm

I can confirm that David gusest is a top man to buy films and projectors etc from ,i am very much looking forward to blackpool this year and have a table booked which will have some nice films for sale on it ,also hope to pick up some nice films from david etc .


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RE: An amazing day with David Guest

#13 by Dave Guest , Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:55 am

just got back from carlise with a mamouth collection of 16mm films all mint prints has these have come from a friend of mine who I have known for over 20 years here are a few titles to wet your appetitie some titles are on hold for my regular buyers

"The man in the whitesuit " "Dead of night" " Saturday night and sunday morning" "Ghost of st. michaels" " Thirty nine steps" " A cry from the streets" "The madam gambles" "Tons of trouble" " Something in the city" "The frightened city" "Never let go" "Waterfront" "The black memory" "Stock car" "Shadow of a man"



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