Title ID 4018Collection ID121
TitleThe Fun of the Fair
Date[ca. 1962]
CollectionJohn Mitchell
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent AmateurNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemeCine Club Film-making
KeywordsFairgrounds Games Leisure Time Activities
LocalNot known
RegionalEast Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJohn P. Mitchell
CameraJohn P. Mitchell
ParticipantsJimmy Redman
FormatColour Sound
Duration26 min. 10 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A vibrant look at a fairground; the rides, the sideshows, the crowd and the people working there. A musical accompaniment is mixed with sounds and voices from the fairground.


“This film is dedicated to the young, and young at heart, who are always fascinated by the noise, colour, and excitement of the . . . . . . FAIR”.

This study of a fairground begins with the ‘Big Dipper’. There are views from the rollercoaster itself and it is seen from the ground where the cars splash through the water at the end of the ride. There are views of the carousel horses and the waltzers. People buy tickets from the ticket booth. Views from the moving Ferris wheel look out over the fair. Cars are shown arriving at the makeshift car park; a boy scout and others direct cars into spaces and people make their way towards the fairground. Scenes of the sideshows and rides follow. A stall with goldfish hanging up in bags, people throw coins onto plates to win. Shots of the bumper cars and a children’s merry-go-round; crowds wander round and watch the rides. Stalls sell balloons and cowboy hats. There are further shots of rides and stalls including swing boats, games catching balls and hooking ducks and a coconut shy. A display of prizes is shown. Children take horse and cart rides and pony rides. A crowd gathers while a man with a microphone rounds up an audience for a boxing match. A boxer (Jimmy Redman) practices on a punch bag behind him. The boxing match takes place in the marquee and a wrestling match follows. Further views of, and from, the rides. A shot of hats for sale on a stall. Outside the ‘Wall of Death’ a man with microphone urges people to see the show. The stunt-rider heats the motorbike’s wheel before riding round the wall of death (no handed!). Onlookers watch from above and another rider joins him. More views around the fair: a rifle range game, children with ice creams and on rides, a bingo stall (the voice-over reads out numbers in traditional way) and waltzers. The film continues to focus on people, often picking out individuals and children in the crowd. Further views of dodgems, The Octopus, other rides and people bring the film to an end.


A still from 'The Fun of the Fair' (1962) - dodgem cars

Contextual information

The fun fair has been a popular subject since the early days of amateur film-making. The vibrant colours, the colourful characters, people having fun and, of course, movement. As well as being a favourite subject for the film-maker it also gave plenty of opportunity for the amateur cine journalists to give advice on the best way to thrill one’s audiences with this charming and exciting subject. Although fairs feature in many amateurs’ films, this particular film takes it as its sole subject.

In this film John Mitchell has also made effective use of an additional soundtrack. He uses actual sound effects of fairground noise as well as continuous music reminiscent of that heard at the fairground.

Decades later this thorough record of a day at the fair proves to be valuable in another way: the film makes for an excellent study in the clothing and styles of the time.
John Mitchell was a productive member of the Brighton and Hove Photographic Club; its members and their activities feature in a number of his other films.

Many films in Screen Archive South East’s collection have scenes of fairgrounds. John Mitchell’s Palace Pier (ca. 1961) features the fun fair on Brighton’s Palace Pier and also shows other cine club members filming the subject. [Family Yearbook] (ca. 1971) was made by a member of the Albany Productions Film Unit and features scenes of a fairground as well as an appearance of some of the cine club members on a carnival float. A River Runs Through Our Town (1962) was made by Shoreham Cine and Miniature Camera club and also contains fairground scenes.

Related titles

Related resources


British Film Institute National Archive & BFI Reuben Library

The BFI in London holds many ‘How To’ manuals and publications giving advice to the amateur film-maker and cine societies. The catalogue is searchable online.

National Fairground Archive

The National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield comprises, “a unique collection of photographic, printed, manuscript and audiovisual material covering all aspects of the culture of travelling showpeople, their organisation as a community, their social history and everyday life; and the artefacts and machinery of fairgrounds.”

West Sussex Record Office & The National Archives

The West Sussex Record Office (WSRO) holds photographs, slides and documents of John Mitchell’s. The WSRO collections can also be searched on the National Archives website.

WSRO Collections via The National Archives

Further Information on File at Screen Archive South East

An Amateur Cine World article from August 1935 entitled “Suggestions for a Scenario for a Film of the Fair”.


British Film Institute Reuben Library

The BFI Reuben Library in London houses a selection of periodicals relating to amateur film-making, including Amateur Cine World and Home Movies & Home Talkies. The magazines contain many references to cine clubs and societies nationwide.


Institute of Amateur Cinematographers

“An international organisation whose aims are to further interest and education in relation to all aspects of film and video making and associated visual arts.” The website has links to further useful resources as well as lists of cine clubs and societies nationwide.