CINEBOX & SCOPITONE

LA SPY-STORY DEL VIDEOCLIP

The fascinating spy-story of Cinebox and Scopitone music videos

An interview with Michele Bovi by Johnny Charlton

Rome, May 1959. The great actor and film director Vittorio De Sica with chief executive of OMI Paolo Emilio Nistri present Cinebox at the Rome Trade Fair.

Michele Bovi, it is your passionate and dedicated research that has revolutionized the history of musical videos: you have delved deep into the history and the roots of the Music Video that is in this day and age the main method of promoting music. Many world renowned experts in the audiovisual field (The American Lawyer Bob Orlowsky who studies and researches the history of Music Videos, the Danish historian of the Jukebox Gert J. Almind, Professor Charles Scagnetti who teaches at the University of Nice in France, Henry Keazor and Thorsten Wübbena who teach The History of Art at the Frankfurt University in Germany) unanimously cite your research that has established that the very first to produce one song Music Videos in Colour were in fact the Italians. For many years it had been erroneously assumed that the first colour music videos were either American or English.

Whatever the musical media, be it a vinyl record, a CD, a DVD or an MP3, it is born and lives in direct symbiosis with the technology and sound reproducing equipment of its time. Over a reasonably short span of time, music has been reproduced on many different machines that range from antique clockwork turntable gramophones to today’s High Tech Digital Players.
In 1981 the catchy term “Videoclip” was newly minted by MTV for the new market that blossomed thanks to MTV’s innovative and methodical large scale diffusion of music videos. The MTV had effectively distributed a constant flow of music videos onto the market and thus laid the groundwork for the large scale diffusion of music videos. Once again I underline the fact that it is the end user hardware that is important because it specifically determines the type of video software to be produced.
Looking back, I think that the first breakthrough musical video that one could call a newborn child, was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by “The Queen” produced by Bruce Gowers in 1975. But, let us not forget that songs and music illustrated by moving images, directed and produced with imaginative fantasy that went way beyond a simple stage representation, had already been shown on television all around the world. They featured firstly Tony Bennett and in the late sixties The Beatles. The first short footage films that were made to promote music go back to 1939 when the “Mills Novelty Company” of Chicago invented and marketed the “Panoram” which was a wooden cabinet with a screen upon which images were projected from behind using a 16 millimetre celluloid film. These shorts were called “Soundies” that featured the Greats of Jazz ranging from Bessie Smith to Duke Ellington. It was just one continuous non stop sequence of 8 songs on one reel of black and white celluloid film. In other words it was a short musical film.
The only true anchestor of today’s music videos were the short one song colour films produced specifically for the Italian Cinebox that was manufactured by OMI, Ottico Meccanica Italiana di Roma (Italian Optical Mechanics) in Rome based upon the designs of its inventor Pietro Granelli (Rome 1918-Piacenza1975). The Cinebox was distributed by a company in Milan called SIF, Società Internazionale di Fonovisione (International Company of Sound and Vision) which was owned by the two brothers Angelo and Benvenuto Bottani.
The Cinebox ran 40 one song colour films that were individually selected from a push button control panel. It was officially presented to the press on the 11th of April 1959 and it was publicly christened by the great actor and film director Vittorio De Sica along with “The queen of Italian song” Nilla Pizzi who had won the San Remo Italian Song Festival of 1951.
According to the recollections of Paolo Emilio Nistri, who was the Chief executive of OMI and is currently the vice president of The Foundation of the Roman Savings Bank Cassa di Risparmio, the very first colour music video was of a song entitled “Altagracia” sung by the Cuban singer Don Marino Barreto Junior. It was produced in the Roman studios of the “Istituto Luce” (The institute of Light) by the film director Domenico Paolella and it was developed in the laboratories of “La Microstampa” owned by Franco Iasiello. This music video ”Altagracia” is beyond any reasonable doubt, the very first musical video that was ahead of its time.

More or less at the same time the French unveiled an invention that was curiously similar to the Italian Cinebox. It was called the “Scopitone”. It showed 36 musical films in colour. I do wonder where they got the idea from?

The “Scopitone” was presented at the Paris Fair the 14th of April 1960. That is to say, one year after the Cinebox had been unveiled in April 1959 in Rome. The Scopitone was designed by Fréderic Mathieu who at that time was the General Director of the “Compagnie d’application Mécaniques à l’Eletronique au Cinema et à l’Atomistique, (The company of electric mechanical applications in cinema and Atomistics) that was an affiliated company of the gigantic Paris based electronics company TSF (Telegraphie Sans Fil) (Telegraph without wires).
Mathieu did not copy the Cinebox of Engineer Granelli.

How can you be so sure he did not copy it?

Because I am convinced that the machines that ultimately became the Cinebox and the Scopitone in realty already existed and had been in use during the second World War in military intelligence.

War music?

No! I am reasonably sure these optical machines were in use in intelligence and spy work.
I must explain that both the Italian company CAMECA and their French counterpart were important industries in the military sector. Both were specialized in optical instruments for navigation and aerial photography that used stereoscopic images to make three dimensional maps. Just try to imagine the advantage during the war years of being able to push a button and instantly see a short film and a hear a commentary of a strategic target without having to rummage through many spools of films to find the right footage that refers to the right military target. Just like a computer of today!

Something like the spy satellites of today?

In a certain sense yes, but many years before Spy-Satellites existed. Futuristic thinking! Let us not forget that the Italian OMI had about a thousand employees on their payroll during the war and they had conceived and designed a new cipher machine as an alternative to the Enigma cipher. Also Umberto Nistri, the father of Paolo Emilio Nistri, was a friend and close collaborator of the famous military aviator Italo Balbo and he was a frequent visitor to the house of the reigning King Savoia. After the war the OMI company acquired the American government as a client and at the same time Umberto Nistri’s son, the industrialist Paolo Emilio Nistri, was a frequent visitor to the CIA in Langley and it was he who actually put the first Cinebox into production on the assembly line.

Enigma OMI

The original Top Secret Cipher machine that was used by the Italian Army, Navy and Air Force during the SecondWorld War. It was based on the principles and designs of the German Enigma cipher machine. Very limited numbers were manufactured from 1939 to 1940 by OMI (OtticaMeccanica Italiana) Nistri SA. It had five rotating disks for the codification and one rotating disk for writing. The keyboard had twenty-seven keys and a lever. Twenty-six keys were for the alphabet and one key was used for continuous movement.

What is it that makes you so sure that the Cinebox and Scopitone were actually functioning during the war?

In France during the nineteen fifties various inventors applied for patents for machines were very similar to the Scopitone. In some cases the applicants were taken to court. Eventually, all the law suites were won by the engineer Mathieu who was the patron of the firm CAMECA and he legally proved that the Scopitone project was already well underway just after the war when they were eagerly attempting to transform the enormous amount of obsolete war material into useful profit making machines.
This specifically confirms what I already believe, that is, the machines already existed and were functional and working during the war both in France and in Italy as automatic viewers of films that contained highly classified strategic objectives and their existence was kept secret for a long time. Obviously, whoever had used or come into contact with these new fangled futuristic optical machines had started to realize their potential and future commercial possibilities and decided to have a go at it. The enormous success during the early 1950’s of the Juke-Box certainly illuminated the musical path to follow so patents were eagerly applied for.
Strange but true, there has never erupted an argument or law suite as to who had effectively invented, patented and produced the first revolutionary Music Video Juke-Box. Evidently the high echelons of the two rival companies, the Italian OMI and the French CAMECA, both knew the truth, that their machines had already existed during the war, seemingly by gentleman’s agreement, they both went their own silent separate ways and never an argument ensued.

Did anybody ever confute Pietro Granelli’s paternity of the Cinebox?

No. In 1958, when some Italians were setting their sights on the French market, the CAMECA bought from an Italian Piedmontese inventor Teresio Dessilani (who had invented an inspired new type of electric razor) a patent that they then used in the development and making of the Scopitone.
In 1959 the Milanese lawyers Vincenza Bavaro e Mario Giacomini formed a company called MGS (Movie General System) and they then applied for a patent in France for a different type of projector of sound tracked films called the Moviebox, but it was never built. Later in1961 the designs of this project of Mario Giacomini were bought by Angelo Bottani, the owner of the company SIF Società Internazionale di Fonovisione (The International Company of Sound and Vision) who were manufactures and distributors of the Cinebox.

So in other words the competition between the Cinebox and the Scopitone was purely commercial and artistic?

Yes. In the early days, both the OMI and the CAMECA veered towards cinema aiming to reconvert obsolete war material into a profitable commercial enterprise. The acronym that forms the name of the company CAMECA specifically refers to “Cinema”. Also in the early fifties Paolo Emilio Nistri founded two new companies affiliated to OMI: The company Cinefilm concentrated on reducing the cumbersome celluloid film of 35 millimetres to a more manageable 16 millimetres and the other company Cineindustria aimed to acquire a new clientele and to distribute the more compact films of gauge 16 millimetres.
The boom in the sales of records (The worldwide success in 1958 of “Volare” sung by Domenico Modugno and in the same period revolutionary Rock and Roll and last but not least the French Author/Singers), convinced the Italians and their French counterparts that the market was ripe for the Video Juke-Box.

It seems strange that contraptions of war can become instruments that divulge peace and pleasure: they became the vehicles for the diffusion of music and dance that stimulated the younger generations.

It is stranger still, that after the OMI company went out of business the second series of Cinebox was produced by the MIVAL company situated in the North Italian town of Gardone Valtrompia in the county of Brescia. This new company was a subsidiary of the Beretta weapons and firearms. In fact, more often than one thinks, armaments and music seem to travel side by side. During the second world war many of the big record companies worked for the military and some continued in intelligence work long after the end of the war. It comes to mind the American troops in 1944 advancing through a war torn devastated Italy. The smiling soldiers won the hearts of the Italians with chewing gum, chocolate and cigarettes but their most long lasting gift was their wonderful happy go lucky Jazz and Boogie Woogie music. I often wonder if the Devils Rebel Rousing Rock and Roll of the fifties was a natural occurrence or if it was orchestrated from Up on high by a Big Brother because it completely seduced and subdued the younger generation and gave them a spontaneous and creative outlet for all the pent up sensations within that could have easily burst out and flowed in a less positive direction.

Selected books:

– Michele Bovi: “Da Carosone a Cosa Nostra, Gli Antenati del Videoclip – From Carosone to Cosa Nostra, Ancestors of the Music Video” (Coniglio Editore, 2007)
– Jean-Charles Scagnetti: “L’Aventure Scopitone 1957-1983” (Autrement, Francia 2010)
– Henry Keazor, Thorsten Wübbena: “Rewind, Play, Forward: The Past, Present, Future of the Music Video” (Paperback, Germania 2010)
– Bob Orlowsky: Scopitone Archive, Washington USA (http://scopitonearchive.com)
– Gert J. Almind: Danish Jukebox Archive, Silkeborg Danimarca (http://juke-box.dk).

THE VERY FIRST MUSIC VIDEO IN COLOR

This is the true godfather of all music videos. It is the first music video of short footage color film that was produced specifically to promote a song: the very first made for the public presentation of the Cinebox, that was a video juke-box built by Ottico Meccanica Italiana (Italian Optical Mechanics) in Rome. The song is entitled Altagracia, and the artist was Don Marino Barreto Junior (Matanzas 1925/Milano 1971), a Cuban singer who was very popular in Italy during the middle nineteen fifties.

Altagracia Cinebox Don Marino Barreto Jr

Altagracia is the name of his daughter, who we can see in the video while she is playing with puppets representing Bibì and Bibò, Captain Cocoricò, the Tordella who were cartoon characters who were loved by at least three generations of young children passionate readers of the illustrated weekly magazine called the Corriere dei piccoli.

Una striscia del Corriere dei Piccoli

The song Altagracia, was first found on an Extended Play 45rpm’s published by Philips Records in 1958 and later inspired the title of Don Barreto Junior’s first Italian LP that was released in two distinct versions: the first came out in 1959 and the second one in 1960 which included a few selected songs from the 1960 Sanremo Italian Song Festival and they were sung by Baretto.

Don Marino Barreto Junior EP, 1958

Don Marino Barreto Junior "Pasito de merengue", "Altagracia", "Octaviano", "Mi tajo" ( EP, 1958).

Don Marino Barreto Junior "Altagracia" (LP, 1959)

Don Marino Barreto Junior "Altagracia" (LP, 1959).

The video was filmed and assembled in November of 1958 in the studios of the Istituto Luce di Roma and was directed by Domenico Paolella (Foggia, 1915/Roma, 2002) who was the director of successful films like “Canzoni di mezzo secolo” (Half a Century of Songs) in 1952, “Canzoni, Canzoni, Canzoni” (Songs, Songs, Songs) in 1953, “Gran Varietà” (Grand Variety) in 1955, “Sanremo Canta” (Sanremo Sings) in 1956, “Non sono più guaglione” (I’m not a young kid anymore) in 1958. The film was developed in the Rome laboratories La Microstampa owned by Franco Iasiello.

Cinebox, The First News (published in the magazine Sorrisi e Canzoni, february 1959)

Cinebox, la prima notizia

click to see full image

One of the very first articles about the Cinebox (published in the magazine La settimana Incom Illustrata, April 18, 1959)

article about the Cinebox in the magazine La settimana Incom Illustrata

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Nilla Pizzi madrina alla presentazione ufficiale del Cinebox, aprile 1959, Circolo della Stampa Romana

On 11th of April 1959, Circolo della Stampa Romana (The Press Club of Rome). Nilla Pizzi, was the Godmother at the official presentation to the public of the Cinebox. Next to her are the brothers Raffaello and Paolo Emilio Nistri, directors of the Ottico Meccanica Italiana (Italian Optical Mechanics). On the right (with glasses) Pietro Granelli, the inventor of the Cinebox. Granelli was born in Rome the on the 29th of June 1918. To his credentials, he has a series of inspired ideas and patents: he created a new type of illustrated sketched sequences with texts somewhat like a comic strip that told stories based upon contemporary current affairs. These became peek-out inserts in specialized periodicals. He also invented the Redi-Box, that in the edition of the 3rd of April 1960, of the weekly music magazine Sorrisi e Canzoni was described as a machine that is like a juke-box that allows you to listen to the latest hits and that actually sells and delivers a packaged record when coins were inserted into the appropriate slot on the juke-box. Fundamentally, he invented the Self Service Juke-Box. Pietro Granelli died in an automobile accident in the vicinity of Piacenza, Italy in 1975.

THE CINEBOX & ITALIAN CENSORSHIP

Renato Carosone with his sextet “’O Mafiuso” (The Mafia man) (Cinebox, 1958).

“’O Mafiuso” was one of the three music videos (the other two were “Atene” and “Torero”) that Carosone made for the Cinebox in December of 1958, just before he withdrew from the music scene on the 7th of September in 1960. The films appeared on the prototype of the Cinebox that was inaugurated at the Press Club in Rome, Italy and at the exposition stands of the SIF company (The International Company of Audiovisuals) at the fair in Milan, Italy respectively April and May of 1959.
The obligatory preceding official censure announcement by the Board of Censors of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment was a huge hindrance to the development of the Cinebox enterprise. Censorship was the main culprit that delayed the commercialization of the Cinebox. The first No objections certifications, became effective only on the 15th of March 1961. In other words, when the Cinebox was finally allowed to go onto the market, the music video entitled “’O Mafiuso” (The Mafia man) was already three years old and the singer, Renato Carosone had already retired from the music business six months earlier.
Paolo Emilio Nistri, the managing director of the Ottica Meccanica Italiana (Italian Optical Mechanics) in Rome, recalls that his good friend Renato Carosone had stated that he would like to enter into a partnership of the OMI company.

THE GREAT GRAND-FATHER OF THE MV

“BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY” BY QUEEN IS NOT THE FIRST MUSIC VIDEO IN RECENT HISTORY AS WE HAVE BEEN MADE TO BELIEVE. THE VERY FIRST SHORT FOOTAGE FILM CONCEIVED TO PROMOTE SONGS WAS PRODUCED IN ITALY IN 1959 FOR THE CINEBOX WHICH WAS A REVOLUTIONARY OVERSIZED ‘VIDEO-JUKE-BOX’, THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME ALLOWED US TO LISTEN TO AND TO ACTUALLY SEE THE SINGERS OF THE SONGS.

Renato Carosone, Don Marino Barreto Junior, Peppino Di Capri and Nilla Pizzi, paved the way to the music videos of the nineteen sixties that subsequently aroused the interest and opened the doors to Italian film directors like Vito Molinari, and Enzo Trapani and up and coming new-comers such as Claude Lelouch, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman. For the first time the story is narrated in the Italian Television Documentary ‘Tg2 Dossier’ that follows the thread of the new-born concept of music videos that intertwined through a background of commercial rivalry that flared up between Italy, France and the United States, and which subsequently aroused the interests of the mafia in New York and the suppression by the forceful crackdown of Robert Kennedy’s G-Men.

“The Great-grandfather of the Music Videos” by Michele Bovi, Tg2 Dossier RAI, 16th April 2006. [SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH]


INTERVIEWS AND VIDEOS THAT APPEAR IN THE PROGRAM

Interviews
– Paolo Emilio Nistri, manager Ottico Meccanica Italiana (Rome)
– Andrée Davis-Boyer, producer and film director Scopitone (Paris)
– Bob Orlowsky, lawyer and historian of the music video (San Francisco)
– Frank Rose, journalist (New York)
– Roberto Marai, entrepreneur (Salò, Brescia)
– Ermanno Caselli, technical director of Società Internazionale di Fonovisione (Milan)
– Alberto Moro, editor (Milan)
– Roby Matano, singer (Milan)
– Clem Sacco, singer (Tenerife, Canary Islands)

Videos
– Gianni Morandi e Mary Di Pietro
– Neil Sedaka
– The Queen
– The Delta Rhythm Boys
– Paul Anka
– Brigitte Bardot
– Don Marino Barreto Junior
– I Brutos
– I Divini
– Wera Nepi
– Iva Zanicchi
– Rika Zarai
– Betty Claire
– Henry Salvador
– Gastone Parigi
– Gegè Di Giacomo
– I Campioni
– Fausto Leali
– Lilli Bonato
– Edoardo Vianello
– Pino Donaggio
– Ornella Vanoni
– Nico Fidenco
– Sergio Endrigo
– Ricky Gianco
– John Foster
– Dalida
– Rita Pavone
– Gino Paoli
– Juliette Greco
– Alice e Ellen Kessler
– Peppino Di Capri e i suoi Rockers
– Marino Marini e il suo quartetto
– Adriano Celentano
– Clem Sacco
– Johnny Hallyday
– Sylvie Vartan
– Tony Renis
– Vince Taylor
– Francoise Hardy
– The Touchdown Girls of Crazy Horse
– De Giafferi
– Marian Montgomery
– Debbie Reynolds
– Joi Lansing
– Sandy Shaw
– Miguel Cordoba
– The Procol Harum
– Nancy Sinatra
– Frank Sinatra Junior
– Skin

Giorgio Gaber testimonial of the Cinebox

Giorgio Gaber testimonial of the Cinebox at the Sanremo Festival 1964.

I Divini “La Canzone del Cinebox” (Cinebox, 1962).

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SONGS TO SEE

The italians, pioners of Music Videos

WHO MADE THE FIRST SHORT-FOOTAGE FILM SPECIFICALLY REDARDING A SONG? MARIO ALMIRANTE IN 1930 FOR ‘NINNA NANNA DELLE DODICI MAMME’ (THE LULLABYE OF TWELVE MOTHERS) BY ODOARDO SPADARO. WHO ACTUALLY FILMED THE FIRST SHORT FOOTAGE PROMOTIONAL COLOR FILM? DOMENICO PAOLELLA FOR ALTAGRACIA’ BY DON MARINO BARRETO JUNIOR, A MUSIC VIDEO MADE FOR THE CINEBOX WHICH WAS A JUKE-BOX WITH A SCREEN FOR PROJECTING VIDEOS INVENTED IN ITALY AND PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC IN APRIL 1959 BY VITTORIO DE SICA. WHO WAS THE AUTHOR OF THE FIRST NEW GENERATION MUSIC VIDEO? RUGGERO MITI WHO IMMORTALIZED LUCIO BATTISTI IN THE WOODS OF THE BRIANZA, A DISTRICT IN ITALY SINGING THE SONG ‘ANCORA TU’ (YOU AGAIN). WHO WAS THE FIRST TO FILM AN ENTIRE ALBUM OF SONGS? POMPEO DE ANGELIS IN 1973 WITH ‘GIRA CHE TI RIGIRA AMORE BELLO’ (TURN AND BE TURNED MY HANDSOME LOVE) DI CLAUDIO BAGLIONI.

A televised documentary that researched and documented the firstborn of the various music videos, was Tg2 Dossier entitled ‘Generazione De Sica, canzoni da guardare’ (The De Sica generation, songs to see)) by Michele Bovi. It was a journey through a century of popular light hearted melodic or light-music films often with popular singers, as the main protagonist. only to find that many prestigious names of the world of culture and cinema had worked in this genre of ‘Musicarelli’ films (popular light hearted melodic or light-music films often with popular singers, as main protagonist). from Ettore Scola to Nanni Loy, from Ennio Flaiano to Antonio Ghirelli, from Ugo Pirro to Cesare Zavattini. With testimonials of Italian and International artists and film directors plus an interview with Francis Ford Coppola who, when young, was involved in the production of the Scopitone, the French competitor of the Italian Cinebox: in this venture the future director of ‘The Godfather’ lost quite a large sum of money.

“The De Sica Generation: Songs to See” by Michele Bovi, Tg2 Dossier RAI, 9 March 2008. [SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH]


INTERVIEWS AND VIDEOS THAT APPEAR IN THE PROGRAM

Interviews
– Vito Molinari, film director (Milan)
– Piero Pompili, producer and film director (Milan)
– Andrée Davis-Boyer, producer and film director (Paris)
– Francis Ford Coppola, film director (New York)
– Ruggero Miti, film director (Rome)
– Pompeo De Angelis, film director (Rome)
– Bob Orlowsky, lawyer and historian of the music video (San Francisco)
– Edoardo Vianello, singer (Rome)
– Clem Sacco, singer (Tenerife, Canary Islands)
– Fausto Leali, singer (Milan)
– Roberto Marai, entrepreneur (Salò, Brescia)
– Massimo Celeghin, collector (Jesolo, Venice)

Videos
– Vittorio De Sica
– Bessie Smith
– Odoardo Spadaro
– Adriano Celentano con Don Backy, Guidone, Ricky Gianco, Miki Del Prete
– Domenico Paolella
– Silvana Pampanini
– Don Marino Barreto Junior
– Gino Paoli
– Milva
– Giorgio Gaber
– Enzo Jannacci
– Remo Germani
– Gianni Pucci
– Gegè Di Giacomo e il suo complesso
– Antonio Basurto
– Ricky Gianco
– Gino Corcelli
– Adriano Celentano
– Babette
– Germana Caroli
– Sergio Endrigo
– Bobby Rydell
– Neil Sedaka
– Dalida
– Miguel Cordoba
– Line Renaud
– Alice e Ellen Kessler
– Johnny Hallyday
– I Brutos
– Richard Anthony
– The Back Porch Majority
– Dominique & Georges Jouvin
– Los Marcellos Ferial
– The Queen
– Lucio Battisti
– Claudio Baglioni
– Robertina e Gattociliegia
– I Nobili

Luigi Tenco, Ricky Gianco, Joe Sentieri, Sergio Endrigo and Cinebox

Four artists that appeared in the music videos of the Cinebox. From left to right: Luigi Tenco, Ricky Gianco, Joe Sentieri, Sergio Endrigo (Milan. Italy 1962).

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THE AMERICANS IN THE CINEBOX

Frankie Avalon testimonial del Cinebox al Festival di Sanremo del 1964

Frankie Avalon testimonial of the Cinebox at the Sanremo Festival 1964.

Frankie Avalon with the dancer Marisa Ancelli, “Tornerai” (Cinebox, 1962). [From the collection of Andrea Ambrosini].

Between 1962 and 1964, SIF had completely renewed its film repertoire, offering opportunities to the new heartthrobs of the younger generation such as American popstars like Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell who were asked to sing in Italian, which was very fashionable at the time.

Paul Anka “Ogni volta” (Cinebox, 1964).
Paul Anka Tuttamusica

Paul Anka.

Paul Anka “Estate senza te” (Cinebox, 1964). [From the collection of Andrea Ambrosini].
Paul Anka “Domani prendo il primo treno” (Cinebox, 1964).

I tuoi capricci, Neil Sedaka

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A music video created in Italian for the Italian Cinebox in 1963 entitled: “I tuoi capricci” (Look inside your heart) by Neil Sedaka with Mary Di Pietro.
Neil Sedaka Cinebox

The SIF magazine.

Bobby Rydell sul set di Sway

Bobby Rydell on the set of "Sway" (Cinebox, 1963).

Bobby Rydell “Un bacio piccolissimo” (Cinebox, 1964). [From the collection of Pietro Bologna].
Il regista Vito Molinari con Bobby Rydell sul set di Sway

The director Vito Molinari (on the left) with Bobby Rydell on the set of "Sway" (Cinebox, 1963).

CINEJUKEBOX

cinejukebox

Cinejukebox model 50.

cinejukebox

Technical features of Cinejukebox model 50.

cinejukebox

Technical features of Cinejukebox model 50.

Cinejukebox

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Cinejukebox

Here we see the actual fascinating Ferrari Red Cinejukebox which was the last model to come off the assembly line of the SIF (Società Internazionale di Fonovisione). In 1965 the SIF company of Angelo Bottani acquired a new partner, the Milanese industrialist Federico Innocenti, who was very well known and respected in Italy for his imaginative motor vehicles, motor scooters and also steel tube scaffolding. The result was a new model called the Cinejukebox. It had a slightly egg shaped form and it was designed and developed by a team of Swiss architects with the American market in mind. It went into production on the assembly line of the Innocenti factory after the production of motor scooters had closed down when the patent was sold to a company in India. We can note the artistic soft curves and the shinny bright red paint finish reminiscent of motor car bodywork.

This model was the Cinejukebox. It used 40 spools of film like the original Cinebox but it worked also as a Juke-Box and it had 200 songs to choose from. When it was in use only as a Juke-Box, transparent slides projected commercial publicity or a kaleidoscope effect on to the screen. The video mechanism was made in Milan, the sound apparatus was supplied by the American audio firm Rowe-Ami and the end product was assembled in Philadelphia. The Cinejukebox was presented to the Italian public in May of 1966 at the Milan Fair and later in October of the same year it was presented to the American public at MOA (Music Operators of America) at the Chicago Fair. The overall industrial planning was overseen by Mario Colombo who two years later went to work with the Ferrari team at Maranello in northen Italy. The original industrial plan had been to produce 5 thousand machines in one year for distribution in The United States but the Innocenti factory interrupted the production at 400 pieces.

The Cinejukebox is presented by Johnny Charlton who is the ex lead guitarist of The Rokes, the most popular and famous English group in Italy during the nineteen sixties.

[Courtesy of Fausto Casi, director of The Museum of communication devices in Arezzo, Italy].

UN-PUBLISHED SONGS ON THE CINEBOX

The Cinebox played music videos of un-released original songs that were cut only as demo records that never went to press and were never put on the market. The record companies used the Cinebox circuit as a market survey to test consumer reactions and presumably the luke-warm reception determined the shelving of the song.Below, for the very first time, I show three music videos in black and white that were produced in 1964 by the SIPEC company that was the main supplier of the films for Cinebox. The managing director of the SIPEC Company Piero Pompili was also the director of the music video.

Fausto Leali & Laura Casati

The first Music Video is entitled Mi sei piacuta subito (I liked you straightaway): sung and performed by the duo Fausto Leali with Laura Casati, both of whom were separate single artists in other music videos of the Cinebox collection. The song is lively and catchy but apparently it did not convince the record company so it was not produced or put onto the market. A long time ago Laura Casati withdrew from the world of music and lives in the town of Pavia Italy with her family. Fausto Leali had completely forgotten that he had ever recorded this song and music video. In fact he adamantly refused to acknowledge its existence and he proffered a bet upon it. As we can see below, he lost the bet!

Remo Germani

The second music video is entitled Modestamente (In all modesty): sung by Remo Germani (Milano Italy 31 May 1938-Vigevano Italy 18 October 2010). Remo Germani also had other music videos in the Cinebox collection one of which was the highly successful song Non Andare col Tamburo (Don’t go with your drum).
Just like Fausto Leali, this song and music video had completely faded from Remo Germani’s memory. There is no trace or listing of this song or music video in his official song lists.

Jerry Puyell

The third Music Video is entitled Non ho il Clan (loosely translated: I do not belong to a clan) sung by Jerry Puyell (Mario Puglielli) from Milano Italy, son of a military hero, who was a forerunner of the Italian rock singers. He was the son of an agent of the Italian Military secret service and he was one of the so called ‘Wild ravers’ who went down in the history of Italian music, known as the Clan (Adriano Celentano, Clem Sacco, Ghigo, Jack la Cayenne, Guidone). In the late fifties the Milan civil authorities and the religious order of the Ambrosiani were scandalized by their rebellious wild raving antics during a concert at the Ice Rink Palace and at the Teatro Smeralda. They were decrying and instigating ‘Rebel Music’ as an offshoot of what was happening with Rock ‘n’ Roll in America and the rest of the world. Jerry Puyell, like Adriano Celentano, in an outrageous parody imitated in a ridiculously comical springy, shaking manner Jerry Lewis and Elvis Presley and he could seem to be the twin brother of Celentano who in Italian is appropriately nicknamed “The springer” (Il molleggiato). In the end Jerry Puyell never became one of ‘The Clan’ of Celentano. Obviously, this is where the title Non ho il Clan (I do not belong to a clan) originated from. Today, Jerry Puyell lives in Madrid, Spain and runs his own business.