G.F. Noble

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G.F. Noble (b. Lambeth, London, 15/10/1895 - d. Durban, 19/12/1984) was a cameraman.


It’s not clear just when George Frederick Noble first came out to South Africa, but in August 1917 he had married Edith Mary Esther Hendry in Kimberley. At the time his profession was given as “photographer”. In 1920 it was reported that he had been filming in the forests of Knysna and would be moving on to the Eastern Cape to shoot a film on wool and mohair. It is possible that during this time his wife and young son were in England, because in 1922 he brought them out to South Africa. In any case, he spent much of his working life as a cameraman for African Film Productions, frequently shooting for Joseph Albrecht. Though he was responsible for photographing the first Afrikaans-language film, Moedertjie (1931), he was primarily involved with documentaries and made regular contributions to the African Mirror newsreel.

When, in 1925, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) toured the African colonies, Noble covered much of the journey for AFP, crossing over from Madeira and the Canary Islands, where he had been shooting a "scenic", for the first part of the tour. As the journey progressed, short films were sent for exhibition abroad and afterwards much of the footage found its way into a lengthy documentary entitled The Great White Chief. In February 1928, Noble embarked on another adventure when he accompanied Gerry Bouwer on a Cape to London via Cairo transcontinental journey sponsored by the Rand Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. Also on board the Chrysler made available for the expedition was Emil Millin, the motoring correspondent for the newspapers, but the condition of the roads was such that Noble injured his back and when they reached Broken Hill (Kabwe) in what was then Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) he was sent back by train. (Bouwer and Millin eventually arrived in London on 4 June, with Bouwer embarking on a successful return journey on 22 August.) In 1929-1930 Noble accompanied a wildlife photographic expedition under the leadership of the American W.D. Hubbard, which resulted in Adventures in Africa (12 shorts), footage from which was eventually edited into a documentary entitled Untamed Africa (1933) for Warner Bros.

Besides filming both Sarie Marais (1931) and Moedertjie (1931) for Joseph Albrecht, he regularly worked with him on documentariaes such as The Smoke That Thunders (1932), The Riddle of Rhodesia (1933), The Golden Harvest of the Witwatersrand (1935) and The Babel of the Kraal (1938), as well as the historical reconstruction Die Bou van 'n Nasie (1938). Like all AFP cameramen, he contributed to many propaganda films during World War II and, after his retirement from AFP, continued to work as a freelance cameraman, amongst others for George Groom and J. Blake Dalrymple at Films of Africa. In 1927 he and his first wife were divorced and in 1930 he married Gladys Margaret Clark. In 1979 he was awarded a Rapport Oscar for his contribution to the South African film industry. He died in Durban at the age of 89.


(He is sometimes confused with his namesake George Noble (1902 - 1970), a British cinematographer who shot documentaries for various organisations, including British Instructional Films, the GPO Film Unit, the Strand Film Company, the Canadian Army's Film & Photo Unit and finally the Gold Coast Film Unit. This may be why, to avoid confusion, the AFP cameraman is usually credited as G.F. Noble) (FO)


Sarie Marais (Joseph Albrecht/1931), Moedertjie (Joseph Albrecht/1931), The Smoke That Thunders (Joseph Albrecht/1932), The Riddle of Rhodesia (Joseph Albrecht/1933), The World's Greatest Wild Life Sanctuary (Joseph Albrecht/1934), The Golden Harvest of the Witwatersrand (Joseph Albrecht/1935), The Song of the Reel (with Hyman Kirstein) (Joseph Albrecht/1936), On Tour in South Africa (with Hyman Kirstein) (Joseph Albrecht/1936), The Consoling Weed (1937), The Land of Rhodes (Joseph Albrecht/1938), The Babel of the Kraal (Joseph Albrecht/1938), Die Bou van 'n Nasie / Building a Nation (with Roy Day) (Joseph Albrecht/1938), Two Brothers (with Frank Dixon) (Joseph Albrecht/1940), Sinews of War / Oorlogspiere (Joseph Albrecht/1940), Oproep! (with Frank Dixon, Errol Hinds & Leon Schauder) (1940), Reported Missing / Vermis (with Frank Dixon) (Joseph Albrecht/194*), Manne van die See (with Frank Dixon and Ken Sara) (194*), Back to the Land (with Frank Dixon, David Millin & Ken Sara) (1945), Land of the Springbok (Victor M. Gover/1945), After Sixty years / Na Sestig Jaar (with David Millin , Albert Carrick & Gerald Ehrlich) (Joseph Albrecht/1946), Mountain Waters (Joseph Albrecht/1947), The Pioneer Trails (Joseph Albrecht/1958), Durban Refinery (with James Robb & Charles Bird) (director not credited/date unknown)


Gutsche, Thelma - The history and social significance of motion pictures in South Africa 1895-1940

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

van der Merwe, Floris - Gerry Bouwer en sy Chrysler deur Afrika (1928)

The International Photographer, June 1930


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