Nothing Venture

1938 - 1939, Zermatt, Switzerland (Other)

A mountain hiking holiday in Switzerland.

Holiday footage taken by Laurie and Stuart Day in the Swiss Alps is prefaced by and concludes with scenes featuring Stuart Day at home in Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire. From the mid-1930s [see The Countess Receives, Cat 2826], Laurie and Stuart Day presented their holiday films with a 'prologue and epilogue' and, if possible, with a theme. This early example includes a prologue in which a cash-strapped Stuart Day pawns trophies to fund a holiday and hopes to redeem these assets by submitting a winning entry to an amateur film-making competition. Stuart Day relaxes at home. He is reading a book entitled 'Let’s Go Abroad'. His eye is caught by a description of a 9 day tour, including 6 nights in Zermatt in Switzerland, at a price of £9-19-6 (inclusive). Putting the book aside, he pulls out of his jacket a letter from the Rubber Neck Co. it is bad news. The letter informs the company’s shareholders that due to poor summer sales, no dividend will be paid. With a deep sigh, he puts the letter to one side, picks up the book and begins to flick through its pages. He chances upon an amateur film-making competition, with a range of cash prizes. Entry forms for the competition will be forwarded with the travel tickets purchased. Stuart Day looks around the room as deliberates how he can fund his holiday. His eyes settle on the amateur filmmaking trophies sitting on the sideboard and he decides to pawn them. He takes the trophies and receives cash. The opening sequence concludes as he places his tickets from the Polytechnic Touring Association into a wallet. The travel footage follows. The travel footage includes the following sequences: the exterior of the hotel in Zermatt, where Stuart Day shakes the hand of a man wearing a badge with the image of the travel company, who, in turn, points out features with the use of a map; children playing on the streets, a woman washing laundry at a fountain by the side of the road; women with cattle a trough, a man carrying a sack of hay through a doorway; mountain guides, who stand outside a shop and pose for the camera; a climber adjusting his back pack before setting off for the mountains; Stuart Day looking at mountaineering equipment for sale; graves of those who have perished in mountaineering accidents; the distant Matterhorn; Stuart Day hiking in the foothills above Zermatt; a meeting with a female hiker; tea with the female hiker outside Zermatt; a return trip on a mountain railway up the Gornergrat, with shots of alpine scenery from the train and from the Gornergrat; transport of goods in Zermatt, by back pack or mules; Stuart Day meeting the female hiker with a male companion during a hike; the three companions go for a walk, place leaves on their noses as sun protectors, pass climbers, women and children, observe agricultural workers and the scenery, Stuart Day takes some film shots, the three stop for cigarettes; Stuart Day buying a bottle of alcohol from a local shop, shakeing the hand of the tour rep before boarding the train; a train pulling away from the station. The holiday footage concludes with a shot of the tour rep waving from the platform. The travel footage is followed by a sequence in which Stuart Day is filmed preparing his film for submission. It begins with a shot of a winding wheel as Stuart Day inspects his film. He is shown making notes; preparing a title plate; filming the title; cutting and splicing the film in accordance with his notes; placing the completed film reel in its can and attaching a label addressed to the competition’s organisers on to a package containing the film can. The film concludes when Stuart Day picks up the package, looks at the bare sideboard and imagines the cups, redeemed from the pawnbroker, back in place. A question mark is superimposed on the image. As the film fades the question mark remains.

Featured Buildings

Zermatterhof, Zermatt [Grand Hotel Zermatterhof] St. Mauritius Pfarrkirche, Zermatt Matterhorn Findelbach Bridge, Gornergrat railway

Keywords

Switzerland; Matterhorn; Mountain climbing; Mountain hiking; Post-war continental tourism; Polytechnic Touring Association (PTA); Travel agencies; Zermatterhof; Gornergrat Bahn; Mountain railways; Pawn shops; Amateur cine competitions; Amateur cine trophies; Institute of Amateur Cinematographers’ Association Daily Mail Trophy; Amateur cine film production

Intertitles

Let’s Go Abroad [book cover title] Switzerland ZERMATT 9-Day Tour, 6 Nights [page in book] Dear Sir, Fine weather has so reduced sales of our summer apparel (Mackintoshes, Gumboots, Waders, Diving-suits etc), we regret you will receive no dividend this half-year. Yours faithfully The Rubber-Neck Company [letter] Valuable Prizes for PTA Jubilee Holiday Makers Amateur Ciné Competition Photographic Competition [page in book] Amateur Ciné Competition for users of 16mm, 9.5mm and 8mm film. PRIZES: £50 for the best film submitted. (any size in Black and White or Colour) £10 for the best 16m film. £10 for the best 8mm film. £10 for the best colour film. (Any size.) £5:5:0 Consolation Prize for colour films. 3 Consolation Prizes of £2:2:0. (1 in each class, 16mm, 9.5mm and 8mm). Entrance forms, giving full details, will […] sent with travel tickets and coupons [page] The badge of the guide and the Swiss Alpine Club is the hallmark of the local aristocracy. Fain would I climb ….. Yet fear to fall. In Loving Memory of FREDA CURRANT who passed into fuller life from the Matterhorn at dawn August 6th 1936 Aged 24 [tombstone] A mountain railway worms it’s [sic] way up to the Gornergat (10,000ft) standing among her taller sisters Monte Rosa, Breithorn, etc. There is no motor transport in Zermatt, so where there’s a back there’s a pack. Low gear work this! A leaf to protect that schoolgirl complexion The last day and the last bean. Cine Competition Polytechnic Touring Association [mailing label] ? THE END.

Other Places

Trentham, Stoke on Trent

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