Documentary tracing an extraordinary road trip between Leeds and India in 1924.
Pathe presents: "The Lure of the East -The film-record of the Forbes-Leith ...." Rest of title obscured by timecode. To be checked.
This is a 22 minute documentary covering an expedition from Leeds to Quetta in Pakistan (formerly India). It was filmed by Montague Redknap and the editor was Frederick Watts. A documentation file exists relating to this extraordinary expedition undertaken by Major F.A.C. Forbes-Leith F.R.G.S.
Introductory intertitles begin "Somewhere deep in the heart of every Britisher lies hidden the roaming or pioneering instinct - call it what you will - which has led our race to the ends of the earth".
The journey begins in Leeds, Yorkshire in April 1924. Various shots of Leeds, street scenes - very nicely shot. A map then shows the projected route for Major Forbes-Leith's trip. Places to be visited along the way include Boulogne, Paris, Genoa, Venice, Belgrade, Sofia, Constantinople, Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran, Shiraz and Kerman.
The car in which Major Forbes-Leith will travel is called "Felix II". We see a close up of the mascot for the trip - a jaunty Felix the Cat soft toy wearing a spotted scarf. Grey weather bids the travellers goodbye at Folkestone. We see the car being loaded on to a boat by a winch. M/S of two men on the docks - possibly Forbes-Leith and Montague Redknap. Various shots of people embarking, being waved off and the boat leaving port.
The car is winched out of the boat at Calais and we see French men stroking Felix and bidding our travellers farewell. The expedition arrives in Paris. Various travelling shots from the car. Film star Douglas Fairbanks is seen wishing the travellers well. Good C/U of Fairbanks pretending to talk to Felix. Shots of the car travelling through Paris. Cameraman Redknap is clearly seen operating his camera in the car (two cameramen on the trip then obviously...)
Major Forbes-Leith continues his travels through Europe. passing through France and Italy He visits the Forest of Fontainebleau, the great palace of Versailles (?), an inn at Briare where Napoleon made his first headquarters in 1814, the Loire Valley then Venice. Various shots of Venice landmarks including the House of the Borgias and the Rialto Bridge seen from on board a gondola. All very nicely shot.
Intertitle states that the stop is Moulins (the Venice section must be out of sequence). Panning shot of a square then a sequence showing roadside basket makers (possibly Romany gypsies). Flassons is another place along the way (not sure where this is - France presumably) then the town of Orange (the Roman arch is seen). An intertitle states: "In the local "Community washing place" Wroe attended to sundry laundry". Wroe is presumably one of the travellers. We see him larking around with local women washing clothes at a communal washing area. They splash each other. Cannes is the next stop - intertitle reminds the viewer of a recent forest fire in the area. Panning shot shows the landscape which used to be a beautiful forest but now looks rather bare. Monte Carlo - a shot of the famous Casino.
Genoa - various street scenes. Intertitle describes it as "the Liverpool of Italy". The house of Christopher Columbus is seen in L/S. A large column is shown - it is not named and not recognised by this cataloguer. Our party visits the old moated castle of Montagnhana. A young boy fishes with a long pole and the castle is seen in the background.
Trieste - men and women in their Sunday best walk along the quayside.
Yugoslavia (Jugo-Slavia in intertitle). Felix II is driven through country streets. Zagreb - a local policeman is featured, his uniform is very similar to a London policeman. Major Forbes-Leith continues his journey to India. There is nothing much to interest him in Austria (!) but the film includes a shot of a beautiful Chateau he "came across" (it isn't named).
Intertile states that "Eighty miles from Belgrade we still found evidence of the devastation of war", and next sequence features the party travelling through rough terrain. One of the men is standing on the car's running board as it travels down a hill, he then runs along pushing the car as it picks up momentum - presumably there is a problem with the mechanics. The car is seen driving across a strange low bridge - possibly across a lake. Location is not specific for any of these shots.
At Nish, some of our travellers are seen walking along with a group of gypsies in traditional dress, some of them play instruments. Flash-frame intertitle says "They dance all day and the Bride (on the left) may be distinguished by her painted cheeks." We see a group of women performing a traditional wedding dance. C/U of musicians.
Flash-frame intertitle says "Past Pirot Gorge. (Where Wroe procured the next day's diner on the hoof.)" Two of our party are seen talking to a shepherd. He catches one of his flock and one of our party picks it up and jiggles it up and down. Various shots of an unspecified location including women weaving and chatting out of doors. C/U of an elderly lady spinning wool by hand. Two other women display a rug they have made.
Felix II drives off into the distance toward Dragoman Pass - a pile of rocks blocks the road so they reverse back down a hill then drive off road in an attempt to get around the rocks.
Felix II is driven through a stream when attempts at getting across Dragoman Pass fail. They carry on across the countryside. In Bulgaria a group of men chat to our intrepid explorers as they stand beside the car with the bonnet up. Panning shots of city streets of Bulgarian capital of Sofia. We see the Cathedral, which flash-frame intertitle informs was tragically blown up later on. Bomb damaged buildings - presumably in Sofia.
Our explorers come out of a building with King Boris; they shake hands and the King has a good look at the car. The King's sister, Princess Eudoxie shakes hands with our travellers. Animated discussion follows. A bouquet of flowers is given to one of our men. We see Felix II being driven along with many other cars following. Intertitle talks of reaching Philippopolis, passing en route the old Roman ruins of Hissar. The car is driven through a partly destroyed archway. High angle shots of the city of Philippopolis.
Intertitle states the expedition head off towards Turkey and get stuck in a swamp. A group of men tow a broken down Felix II across a field. Eventually the car gets going. Some farm workers watch the events. The men are thanked with handshakes
Intertitle states that the explorers reach Adrianople, "a depressing city of 30,000 people (in 1910 it contained 100,000), where stands the largest Mosque in the world". L/S of the temple. Our explorers have their shoes polished in the open air by a man in a fez. Various shots of streets and locals - presumably Turkey?
Intertitle talks of a stop near Silivri, close by the Sea of Mamora. L/S of a broken down Felix II. Four donkeys and several men attempt to pull Felix II out of a muddy stream in which he is stuck. Street scene - trams, men carrying large trunks and sacks on their backs. Intertitle refers to Turkish capital - presumably Constantinople (now Istanbul).
Ankara (?), Turkey. Felix II is driven through a desert landscape and across a frontier (?).
Pai Tak Pass (northwest of Baghdad, across border into Persia) - "we climbed along the fine military road made by our forces during the war." Various shots of Felix driving along a dusty road. Last intertitle reads: "This was the same route to India taken by Alexander the Great, and we were surprised to find one of the commemorative arches built by him" but film ends here.