PLASE READ, all you 8mm movie collectors of yore!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dick, Feb 16, 2002.

  1. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    There doesn't seem to be any proper forum category in which to put this, so software will have to do.

    I am in the early stages of researching a book about the collecting of 8mm/super 8mm films during the 50's, 60's and 70's. This is a nostalgic project which I hope will accurately represent countless hundreds of hours of joy and entertainment collecting afforded me as a youth, beginning with old Castle black and white 9-minute silent reels containing excerpts from popular Universal films. I had my own precursor to "home theater," a beaded screen on a tripod, my dad's old cast iron Kodak projector (very noisy), and six rickety folding chairs in between. I provided all the music and sound effects and dialog vocally, and was too full of the showmanship bug to care whether or not I was making an ass of myself. As I was able to earn more money, I bought a new projector, and occasionally even bought a COLOR movie (still silent for now) such as BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, FIRST MEN IN THE MOON and MAJOR DUNDEE. The next breakthrough was discovering AMERICOM, a company that released 9-minute digest films with their corresponding soundtracks on a separate 33 1/3 RPM flexible disc. I actually had the best two Hammer films on this format - HORROR OF DRACULA and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN - in color. Who cared that one couldn't keep the damn soundtrack in sync...what a blast!

    Finally, I entered the sound-on-film arena and found all kinds of gems - Warner Bros. reels of color and sound cartoons (sold as hundred-footers, these were full-length cartoons selling at half the cost of the Castle ones, which were the same length but mounted on 200' reels). I had kids from all over the neighborhood plunking down nickles every weekend to attend my showings. The big league was attained with my graduation to Super 8mm sound, and I amassed a huge collection of feature films (lots of R.K.O. classics, a few Paramount titles, released under the banner of "Mountain Films" such as WAR OF THE WORLDS and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST -165m!). There were the abbreviated features such as the 3x400' MGM's like THE TIME MACHINE and BEN-HUR. There were scores of expanded (16-20 minutes now instead of the 9-minute reels years earlier) digest editions of films such as THIS ISLAND EARTH and the Universal horror classics and PSYCHO. Castle Films had become Universal 8, and some of their 800' digest editions were actually LETTERBOXED (Jaws, Hindenberg)! When Laser discs hit, I gradually lost interest in Super 8mm and began selling off my collection, just before Super 8mm began to offer 'Scope prints and stereophonic sound! I could puke when I go through the eBay listings and see what some of my collection would be bringing me now...except that now, if I still owned these films, I'd be keeping them. I want them all back! But as that won't happen, I want to look backwards for a while. I want to produce a book that captures all the excitement of film collecting, while also serving as a reference book of what film titles were made available back then, from whom, in what format, etc. This is going to be the hard part AND I NEED YOUR HELP!! I will be contacting Columbia and Universal to see if they can provide me with information about their old 8mm releases, such as old catalogs, etc, but there is no guarantee I will get a response. And then there were so MANY smaller companies - AAP (United Artists and Warner Bros titles), Ken (20th Fox, MGM and AIP), Americom (20th Fox, Hammer, etc.), the list goes on. Have any of you catalogs from these companies you would be willing to part with (on loan or for sale - my budget is pretty limited, though)? Or can anyone provide any links or information? Many thanks in advance for any help you can offer - including suggestions for the book.
     
  2. Lee Bombard

    Lee Bombard Stunt Coordinator

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    Dick,

    Don't forget Blawkhawk Films out of Davenport Iowa. Their catalogs were fantastic.

    Regards,

    Lee
     
  3. Bob Graham

    Bob Graham Supporting Actor

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    I was a collector of those 8mm B&W digests back in my youth. Wish I could help you out with catalogs, but I don't have any.

    I remember Republic briefly entered the business with digests of THE QUIET MAN, DINOSAURUS, THE 4-D MAN, and others, but when you opened the box you saw that they put 100 feet of film on a 200 foot reel. What a gyp!

    Castle Films (owned by Universal) always followed the plotlines of the original films, but Ken Films had this tendency to write their own plotlines around the footage sometimes ignoring the dialog that was being spoken on screen. I remember their version of the 1939 HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME began with the words "Once there was a hunchback who loved his church...". Ken's digest of THE UNDEAD makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and features subtitles that have no tie-back to the original dialogue. The line "Now you witches join the undead" was not featured in the original movie. But who cares, you got to see the "good parts" on demand.

    I remember someone from Universal 8 telling me in the late 70s that the company had an policy of not releasing more than 17 minutes from a single film. This scuttled a proposed "Best of the Marx Brothers" compilation.
     
  4. Joseph Goodman

    Joseph Goodman Stunt Coordinator

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