Tom Hanlon

Tom Hanlon, chief of Sound Branch when Army Pictorial Center closed, was the subject of a query by his nephew, John Hanlon. "My name is John Hanlon and I am asking if anyone knew or has information they can share regarding my uncle Thomas Francis Hanlon who was the sound recording chief at the Army Pictorial Center. He worked there from approx. 1941 thru 1970 or when it was closed.

"The A.P.C. studio just so happened to open the year my uncle was born in 1919. My uncle passed away in 1996. Any info. would be greatly appreciated."

Your web editor replied:

I believe Tom was part of one little activity, since he was head of sound. The sound guys were excited because someone had brought in the sound track for Jeanne Eagles' 1929 film, “The Letter”, on those big Vitaphone disks. APC had an unusual collection of antique equipment including a Vitaphone disk player. They transferred the sound track to some other medium, probably tape, circa 1969 or 1970. I remember the Vitaphone disk played from the inside out. Now I see that the disk sound track for this film is incomplete. No wonder the sound guys thought it was a real treasure. Many of the people in the studio were film buffs and collected and shared film rarities.

It was probably Tom who also related a story. Some of us screened John Huston’s “Let There Be Light,” the “restricted” film following shell-shock patients returning from the war and undergoing therapy. I believe it was Tom because he was among the few old-timers who were there from the early days. As we watched the early scenes in the film, of GIs and the wounded going down the gangplanks of a troop ship on their return to New York, he remembered working sound on the film because the SCPC GIs had to get up very early in the morning to be at the dock to meet the ship and film the soldiers’ arrival.

The Army acquired the studio from Paramount in February 1942, so I surmise that Tom was one of the soldiers like Joe Lipkowitz who went in with Colonel Gillette to take over the place and begin clearing all the junk out. They said they tossed a lot of props, set items and equipment as junk, when today it would all be valuable collectibles. Oh well, there was a war on and work to be done.

Tom was among the APC crew that won a first place trophy in the Industrial Management Society's Seventeenth Annual Film competition in 1968.


Army Pictorial Center welcomes any further information or anecdotes about Tom Hanlon and the Sound Branch. Send information.


(Updated July 10, 2016, and September 8, 2020.)



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