Posts Tagged ‘animation’
My father was an avid 8mm home movie maker. He also owned a collection of various Castle Films, and one from Hollywood Film Enterprises, “Buzz Saw Battle,” a 50’ excerpt from the Mickey Mouse cartoon, “The Dognapper” (Disney-UA/1934), which was a real let-down because it ended right in the middle of action. [Above: Original pencil sketch from “The Dognapper,” which hangs on my office wall.]
In response to my previous blog, “The Actress Is,” which featured a Louis Weiss Co. (successor to Weiss Brothers-Artclass Pictures) home movie catalog, collector Jeff Missinne was kind enough to forward a Hollywood Film Enterprises home movie catalog from around the early 1950s. It was photocopied years ago, so the quality isn’t great.
Jeff Missinne also gave me the following information which he has allowed me to share with you.
Hollywood Film Enterprises had four Laurel and Hardy reels: Three 400′ sound editions and one 100′ silent (“Three’s a Crowd,” the phone booth scene with Jack Norton), all from “Our Relations.” I own prints of the sound reels and, oddly, a 100-foot dialogue sequence of the two women ordering dinner in the restaurant is repeated in two of them (“Mistaken Identity” and “Sailor’s Downfall”) while the phone booth scene isn’t in any of the sound editions!
I just acquired three of the Patsy Kelly shorts but haven’t screened them yet, they are spliced together and only the first one has a main title, so I have to figure out which ones the other two are. (Six shorts from one feature; five sound and one 100′ silent, that has to be some kind of record!) Don’t know how many “Grandpop Monkeys” were sold, but check out that bizarre list of sizes…100′ sound “headline” versions.
I asked Jeff for an approximate year of the catalog and he responded further:
Afraid I can’t pin down an exact date, but would say it is somewhere in the early to mid- 1950’s. By then they had gone through the phase when they merged with another company and were briefly known as Carmel-Hollywood Films; some of the Gene Autry reels came from that period; and this was before they began offering color Disney cartoons in 8mm. (They were edited to 100 feet each, same as the AAP Warner cartoons.)
I went thru my paper files and found my letters from Wally Shidler of HFE, but no further info on dates, etc. Shidler’s letter stated that HFE’s relationship with Walt Disney ended around 1960, but I have some reason to believe it may have lasted a little longer, as they were offering 8mm Eastmancolor prints of Disney cartoons and Disneyland travelogues, and I’m not sure if Eastmancolor was commonly used for 8mm printing until after 1960. Most if not all earlier color prints I’ve seen were Kodachrome or Anscochrome. It certainly ended though when Disney decided to open their own 8mm division in the mid-60s. Wally stated that HFE was primarily a lab, and the home movies were just a way to keep the place busy between outside orders. (I am fairly sure Eastmancolor was being used for 16mm printing by 1960, but maybe not 8mm yet. (For example, when Castle started offering 8mm cartoons and travelogues in color in the late 50’s, they were Kodachrome; and I know a collector who at least claims to own some 8mm AAP cartoons on Anscochrome.)
HFE existed before Castle Films. They were making home movie subjects at least as early as 1930, maybe even before then; Eugene Castle didn’t enter the home movie field until 1937-38, though he was making 16mm and 35mm industrial films before then. So apparently either HFE approached Disney or the other way, and they were releasing his cartoons as early as 1933. Disney was apparently satisfied with the deal as it was renewed over and over for decades.
At one time or another HFE also had Walter Lantz’s “Oswald” and “Meany, Miny & Moe” cartoons, though only in 50′ 8mm and 100′ 16mm silent toy projector lengths (I don’t know if their deal was with Lantz himself or Universal) and some of the Harman-Ising MGM cartoons in full length 16mm sound editions. When Universal bought out Castle Films, HFE lost the Lantz rights, and Castle then offered the cartoons in a complete range of silent and sound versions.
Jeff – Thanks a million for providing the catalog, and especially your comments! — Kit
“Grandpop Monkey” was based on cover illustrations by an artist named Lawson Wood that ran in Collier’s magazine. The animated versions were made by Cartoon Films, Ltd. which had been the Ub Iwerks studio. They were backed by British money and may have been made to run there first (not sure.) Monogram Pictures (!) released them theatrically in the US. The 3 titles HFE had were the only ones made, and were produced and released in Cinecolor in 1940.
One of the weirdest color films I have is an 8mm Ub Iwerks cartoon in original Cinecolor. I like Cinecolor, especially for cartoons, where it gives a sort of “old Sunday funnies” effect. Cinecolor’s color registration was very good in 35mm, not bad in 16mm, but by the time you get down to that tiny regular-8 frame it looks like a failed anaglyph 3-D image!
Weiss licensed Hollywood Film Enterprises the rights to create home movie versions from some of its silent films. Weiss-Artclass Tarzan serial cut-downs were sold as “Tarzan of the Apes”; B-westerns in which Jean Arthur had a supporting role became “Jean Arthur Westerns,” and “Bible Stories,” were adapted from the 1920 Italian epic, “La Bibbia,” which Weiss-Artclass had released in truncated form in 1922 as “After Six Days.”
My family had some 8mm Ub Iwerks Cinecolor prints: “Sinbad the Sailor,” “Little Black Sambo,” and “Pin-Cushionman” (retitle of “Balloon Land”), all 1935. As with Jeff, I was enamored by the color. The box art, “Fun Cartoons in Color,” was cool, too.
No way…I’m still finding too many interesting movies to release on DVD/Blu-ray.
Hard to believe Kit Parker Films just celebrated its 45th year in the distribution of classic motion pictures! Back in 1971 the 16mm non-theatrical industry was thriving, but it was largely owned by corporations which were passionate about money, but dispassionate about films, and the quality of the film prints showed it. I saw a niche to be filled — renting out quality prints at affordable prices, and Kit Parker Films was born.
The 16mm library expanded throughout the years until home video made inroads into the industry — the quality of VHS was marginal at best, but the price was right. By the 90s I branched out into the 35mm theatrical arena, eventually becoming the go-to source for classics in the 35mm film format.
In the late 1990s I realized the days of projecting celluloid were going to be replaced by DVDs, so slowly phased out the “old” KPF, and in 2001 began purchasing the copyrights to vintage films. Over the next 15 years my collection grew to include hundreds of feature films, television programs, serials and shorts. Many of my acquisitions required a great degree of patience and detective work to clear rights and locate suitable elements, but those efforts unearthed many films that had seen little or no exposure for decades.
Launching my library on DVD was a success, but like other producers, my profit was far too diluted by wholesalers, and their related “expenses” that I had to pay for, but that was the traditional method media (starting with books) made its way to stores and customers for over 100 years.
Amazon has been amazing for people like me who don’t like to go to stores. By 2015 they were by far the #1 seller for my DVDs. Over time I noticed that some items I’d buy would say “Sold by ‘Acme Company’” and “Fulfilled By Amazon.” Amazon is making 90% of my DVD sales…I had a lightbulb moment! I can’t say why it took so long for me to figure out I could sell exclusively through Amazon, pay their fulfillment fee and continue to grow my business.
This means I can continue to augment my release schedule and continue to take a chance on projects that may not even recoup their costs. How many people are going to buy a silent serial, or an obscure cult film? In this business you never know, but I’ve built my career on taking new risks.
So, I did it, and my new company, The Sprocket Vault, was born. Although TSV was created originally to sell my own DVD/Blu-rays, other producers have started approaching me to sell theirs…so my company is growing, and that means lots of new releases of interest for you.
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