Bolex Record - "Top Secrets" with Ross Hunter

October 26, 2006 -- Michael Tisdale
In 1961, you could send off one dollar in the mail to Paillard Incorporated of New York and receive this instruction record and booklet. It contained tips and advice for shooting movies narrated by Martin Fuss - I mean, Ross Hunter - Hollywood producer of Airport, Imitation of Life and several Sandra Dee and Doris Day films, among others.

Ross Hunter Bolex Record

This record is made of cardboard, with an embossed audio track. It came with a 20 page booklet that illustrated the tips heard on the record, along with advertisements for the Bolex 18-5 projector and other products. The record plays on both sides at 33 1/3 rpm and is about 11 minutes in length.

Paillard Bolex Record with Ross Hunter
Bolex Record, Side 1

The tips are fairly straightforward - common sense advice, such as how to tell a story with close-ups and wide angle shots, rather than continuously panning and zooming. Editing techniques are discussed, as well as when to use slow-motion and other camera effects. It's focused on making home movies, but still emphasizes the importance of a script and story. In other words, just the basics. There are no "secrets" to be heard on the record, but it's pretty entertaining.

Paillard Bolex Record
Side 2

The record was available in 1961, and advertised in Volume 11, Number 2 of the Bolex Reporter magazine. There's a cut-out order form on page 30; it could be sent to Paillard Inc along with $1.00 in cash, check or money order, with your name and address filled in. The back of the coupon listed an offer for a free copy of "Introduction to Home Movies"; a compilation of a series of articles written by Raymond C. Lawson.

Pictured below is a brochure for the "Ross Hunter Audio-Visual Course Kit", as this record was called. It promises that you'll "Hear his actual advice just as he gives it to you, just as if he sat in your living room and talked directly to you."

Ross Hunter brochure
A brochure for the "Top Secrets" kit.

The back side includes a mail order form. Apparently, these were printed before the artwork for the booklet and record were finished.

The back of the brochure contains an order form for purchasing the record.

These records seem fairly common on eBay. Unfortunately, the booklet that it came with isn't always included, which is a shame.