See 1951 Biloxi on the silver screen Thursday

The monthlong, modern-day history lesson involving the 1951 Biloxi-set, half-hour documentary “Social Change in a Democracy”, is beginning to reveal more information about the production, which today showcases rare video of myriad Biloxi locales and people.

The black-and-white documentary, which a five-man film crew shot in Biloxi over three week in July 1951, was actually made to show to audiences in Japan, complete with an alternate Japanese soundtrack.

And Thursday night at 5:30, Biloxians and anyone interested has a chance to see the English version of the documentary in a free screening in the theater at the Biloxi Visitors Center. Historian Jane Shambra and co-host Susan Hunt will invite audience members to take notes during a showing of the 31-minute film. Refreshments and snacks will be offered for free.

During a previous showing months ago at the Biloxi Public Library, Shambra and audience members were able to spot a host of people and places from 1951 Biloxi:

Benachi Avenue, Biloxi Community House, City Hall on Main Street, Point Cadet waterfront, Phillips Milk of Magnesia plant on U.S. 49 in Gulfport.

Gorenflo Elementary, Biloxi Junior High School, Mack Williams, Margaret Ann Curtis, Back Bay waterfront, shrimp boats (John Mavar, Victor Mavar and Olivia Mavar), C.D. Jenkins, Mayor Hart Chinn, City Commissioner J.A. “Tony” Creel and Jacob Guice.

“The major part of the film,” Sun Dial Films production manager H.L. Lambert said in The Daily Herald on June 28, 1951 “will show how the people in a democratic fishing town overcome a local problem by democratic methods.”

Two days later, on June 30, the Daily Herald had another story about the project: Lambert, the 20-year film veteran who had done film work for Keesler, issued a call for “50 boys and girls of about the ninth and tenth grade level to participate in the classroom scenes.”

Lambert said although the students would only have six days of actual shooting, he needed them available for call during the entire three weeks of filming.

Lambert’s Sun Dial Films company was shooting the documentary for the Civil Affairs Division of the Army. The project, the Herald reported, had the endorsement of the Junior Chamber of Commerce and students who applied to be in the film were coordinated by the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, the city acquired the film from the National Archives and is seeking help in identifying people and places in the film. The plan is to create a pop-up version of the 1951 film, with captions “popping up” to identify Biloxi landmarks and people from the era.

This month, BTV and Sparklight Channel 70 Coastwide are showing the program at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily. The program is also on the city’s YouTube page.
Print a flyer about the screening
See the full BTV program online

News and notes: Breakfast, podcast,

Breakfast: Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich discussed a host of city initiatives and challenges during Breakfast with the Mayor, a Biloxi Chamber of Commerce program this morning at the Golden Nugget. To see the video of the presentation, click here.

Podcast: Biloxi Police Chief John Miller is among the guests on the City Desk podcast, which was recorded this morning at the Golden Nugget. Miller discussed the Cruisin’ the Coast traffic plan. To listen to the 14-minute program, click here.