Many years ago, when I was a graduate student at the University of Tulsa, I was contacted by a reporter for The New Yorker who was working on piece on Stephen Joyce and the James Joyce Estate. I was hired to scour the Richard Ellmann papers at the University of Tulsa in order to find material for the article. While rummaging through Ellmann’s notes, I came across some curious film reels tucked away in a folder.
The first film was 1 minute and fifteen seconds of footage showing Joyce at his home in Zurich. In it, Joyce playfully interacts with members of his family (at one point he jocularly shakes his walking cane at someone behind a window and turns around smiling). The second reel (1:21), shows Joyce and Nora walking around Paris.
This morning, a friend of mine at DeMontfort University contacted his friends in order to ask if there were any pictures of Joyce enjoying himself. I immediately remembered these videos in Tulsa. In 2005, we were unable to locate the provenance of the film, which simply said “the only known footage of Joyce.” I did a quick search on Youtube, and to my surprise, someone has posted the original documentary in which these videos were shown. It comes from an interview with Richard Ellmann in 1977. The poster, Pegarty Long, notes:
Early film on James Joyce (1977). Interview with Joyce’s biographer, Richard Ellmann, dramatizations from ULYSSES and FINNEGANS WAKE with the only moving footage of James Joyce and the only recording of his voice. Moving footage of James Joyce and Nora Joyce in the 1920s photographed by Joyce’s son-in-law, Robert Kastor in Paris and was rescued by Mr. Kastor from his attic in New York in1977 for this film. Film by Pegarty Long
You can watch the video here (and do look at the span from 10:13 to 10:25 for a playful Joyce):