The Hollywood Filmoscope

Filmoscope: Tru-Vue's Predecessor

By Tom Martin

Tru-Vue and DeVry were not the first companies to create a stereo film viewer to view strips of 35mm film. A California based company, Boeger Brothers, created a metal folding viewer that they called "The Hollywood Filmoscope". The design was nice and compact, and mechanically it works well.

It is not known exactly what dates the viewer and films were made, but the movie stars pictured in some of the films were all active in the late twenties and early thirties (and of course, many long before and after that). Also, the last two films in the library sheet that I have are of a Shriners' convention, and there was a Shrines convention held in Los Angeles in 1929. A patent search may bring a more definite date (the viewer just says patent pending). The two viewers that I have seen both came in boxes that were labeled on the bottom "Souvenir of the opening of Los Angeles' finest and most modern optical department, conducted by Harry Davis, O.D. and Associates", but there were no films with either viewer. Both viewers came with operating instructions and a library sheet, but in one both sheets were the same size and in the other (the one that I purchased) the library sheet was taller indicating that the catalog of titles had been expanded mid-order for the optometrist.

I have not personally seen any of the films for the Filmoscope, but neither Tru-Vue or DeVry films will fit as they are a millimeter or two wider than the film slot on the Filmoscope viewer. Maybe the Boeger Brothers used a different brand of film other than Kodak, or maybe it was movie camera film? If anyone has a film, please let me know.

Given that some of the film subjects were Hollywood movie stars, I would think that they would be kept and cherished by purchasers and their descendents, so a higher percentage of them should have survived. Since these viewers and films come up so rarely for sale, I am guessing that they were designed for the Hollywood tourist market, and were sold in very small numbers before the company stopped making them.

The Film Catalog

I have one Filmoscope catalog that lists 15 titles with short descriptions of each of the films. You can see a scan of the catalog below. The titles are:

No. 1 Scenic Hollywood
No. 2 How Not to Play Poker
No. 3 Flirtation
No. 4 Interpretation
No. 5 Castles in the Air
No. 6 How to Make Up
No. 7 Goofy Shops
No. 8 Famous Faces of Filmdom Series 1
No. 9 Famous Faces of Filmdom Series 2
No. 10 Famous Faces of Filmdom Series 3
No. 11 Reginald Denny
No. 12 Universal City
No. 13 Little Drops of Water
No. 14 Shrine Convention Parade
No. 15 Shriners at the Breakfast Club

As always, this is a work in progress. If you have any additional titles or advertising, or notice any major omissions in this article, please let me know.

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This page last updated 18 January, 2010
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