Lew - I have an assortment of French theatrical blanks, made from 9 mm Para cases, but also from 9 x 25 mm Mauser cases. I don’t know who made them. I don’t have any with a black wood bullet that I am aware of - all mine have rosebud type mouth crimps. The ones made from 9 x 19 mm Para cases are very short. It is a wonder they would work in anything. The crimping appears to be very professional, though, and they are all the same crimping.
Of course, “The Longest Day” blanks have always been interesting, and with a little controversey being gold, since the movie was in black and white, not color. Personally, I don’t see any particular mystery in that - they had to be some color, so why not gold.
I am told that many of the Russian Tokarev blanks were actually made for theatrical purposes, and not for the military as training blanks despite their military headstamps. Certainly the Soviets made plenty of blanks, as they were very big on war movies, and made some impressive ones.
While I can’t identify them, I have always felt that a goodly number of the auto pistol caliber blanks in my collection were probably made for the cinema or other theatrical purposes (stage plays, out-door live performances, re-enactments (yes - they are really theatrical productions which is why they are advertised to and open for the public). While there are many modern adaptions available for Police training that simulate semi-auto or full-auto fire, considering the age of many of the blanks, I have always doubted the militarys would bother to do the conversions then necessary just to supply training versions of their pistols and submachine guns.
Many had blank firing attachments for full, rifle-caliber machine guns. We had them for our Browning .30s. I know some were made for the M1 rifle too, but I never saw one in service. The rifle was simply hand operated like a bolt action. To make most SMGs and SAPs function fully with blanks takes major and permanent alterations to the weapon. There have been some exceptions, of course. A blank firing attachment is known for the MP 28s and for the MP-40, although they are both so rare I don’t know a collector who has seen one (I am not saying none have - I am saying there are none in my wide circle of collector friends with interest in those weapons). Au contraire, the blank firing barrel (also without muzzle adaptor used for short range rounds) for the Carl Gustav Swedish Kulsprutepistol 45 is very well known and was widely used by the Swedish military in both short-range and blank-fire modes.
Well, I guess the point is that not all blanks are probably what we think they are, or better siad, what we think they were intended for, and probably considering the amount of filming done in foreign countries there are probably dozens of theatrical-blank makers around the world that we don’t know of. Our own Forum “Doc Av” is one, of course.
Ron - thanks for the ID of the location of Ellis. A great gun shop was in Culver City also, Martin B. Retting. I wish I had known about Ellis and Stembridge in those days. Now, the entire LA basin is simply a by-pass for me. I avoid stopping there. As much as I dislike the city of my birth, San Francisco, I dislike Los Angeles more. You can get killed down there just for taking the wrong turn off and having the wrong color car or the wrong color shirt on! That wasn’t true in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I used to make an occasional pilgrimage to Martin B. Rettings and other shops, or to the Rose Bowl game.