Ker-ching! Sounds of classic cinema make a big noise in the auction room

You've seen the movie now buy the big explosion, in a huge auction of effects from British studio archives
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The Independent Culture

The crunch of a burglar's boots on gravel, the sound of a jemmy forcing a window, the squeal of the getaway car's tyres - sounds can tell a story, and this week some of the most eloquent noises in cinema are to be sold.

They are contained in a collection of sound effects used in some of the most famous British films of the past half-century, including the lapping of the waves as Ursula Andress emerges in her bikini in Dr No, and the sound of a van being blown up in The Italian Job. There are four million of them - making it the largest archive of movie sounds in Britain.

With the sale at auction just days away, wealthy film buffs are clamouring to get their hands on the Cinesound SFX library. The reel-to-reel recordings were compiled over decades for studios such as Shepperton, Elstree and Pinewood. They are expected to sell for £50,000 at Tuesday's sale.

The archive includes the chanting of English football fans during the 1966 World Cup final and sound effects from epic films such as Gandhi, The Odessa File, The Killing Fields and Lawrence of Arabia. There are also noises associated with classic moments in cinema, such as the abortive test explosion in The Italian Job, before Michael Caine declares: "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off." Among the most famous elements is the "four minutes of silence" in Lawrence of Arabia. It accompanies Omar Sharif's emergence from the desert, first as a dot on the horizon and then becoming larger amid the shimmering heat of the desert. This was recorded for the studio in a deserted part of Spain and reused in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The archive is being sold by a private individual described as "an elderly film buff". It was rendered obsolete for commercial use by digital technology.

Whoever buys the collection will have to listen to the recordings at home because of copyright restrictions that prevent the sounds from being played commercially.

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