THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
November 30, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Who’s Who Guide To Home Movie Cartoons – Part 1: Carnival Films!

Today- a little about ‘Carnival Films’ a tiny company who’s history remains a mystery! But first- a Thunderbean update:

I’ve been working this week to get the Little King’s Blu-ray and All Scrappys/ All WB out the door, and other ‘Special’ sets. Thanks to all. The other sets are all well in progress, with work picking up again on Flip and Rainbow Parades. The Phantom Planet finished clean up today as well. More information soon!


..and now, onto Carnival Films:

I love collecting the old home movie versions of classic cartoons. For this of you that collect films, this is probably well worn information- but if not, here’s the first segment of a brief guide to who made what in terms of the home movie versions of the many golden age cartoons.

The two ‘bigger’ companies in the golden age of home movie prints were Castle films and Official films. They released lots of golden age cartoons from both major studios and many one shots as well. These ‘legitimate’ releases all featured films that were licensed by Castle from a handful of studios and owners of cartoon properties. The prints they made are generally pretty good, often pulled from original negatives to make their print down masters.

On the other hand, Carnvival films, located just outside of New York in Lodi, New Jersey, offered 8mm prints of cartoons, westerns and Comedies from any source they found. These little films, most of the time only 50 ft long, were the mid 60s through early 70s equivalent to the PD VHS and DVDs that would follow many years later. They were sold in dime stores and other discount outlets. I’ve found that the price tag often found on them has price of 79¢ to $1.15. This is incredibly cheap compared to the more expensive Castle films. I’ve seen 8mm and Super 8 prints from Castle of the same length marked $2 to about $2.60. On the Carnival shorts, the price stickers (if one is still attached) are often from Woolworth, Kresge, K-Mart, Top’s Bargain City, Woolco and even Hudson’s- so it seems Carnival Films was at least able to get their little products into lots of stores.

Imagine walking into this store as a kid and coming out with a prize cartoon!

Carnival may or may not have been related to Atlas films, a company that offered similar fare from the mid-60s into the early 70s. My guess is that Carnival either sold their material to Atlas or became it.

I think these are some of the most fun to collect. Since they were sold cheap in discount stores for many years, there’s still a lot of them out there, so it isn’t too hard to collect some really fun ones. The hardest ones to find seem to be the early Aesop’s Fables boxes. My guess is that these were done early in Castle’s releases, and not as many are around. Tommy Stathes put some great ones on his blog many years ago here.

As for the quality of the prints: it’s 8mm and super 8, and most are print-downs from old 16mm home movie versions of Exclusive movies. They must have looked up the titles on the home movies and made the assumption that the material was in the public domain. They are pretty duty looking, but, honestly, pretty watchable and a deal at 79 cents!!

Of course, the history of the Carnival Films company will probably never really be known. Perhaps though, someone out there does have some information on the company or its founders.

The first I ever saw one of these was in the late 70s, before I had a projector myself. It was a print of ‘The Awful Spook’ with a box that said ‘Kitty Kat’. A friend of mine had the print, and would show it on his little 8mm toy projector. Of course, this is an early Krazy Kat short. Carnival also release quite a few Felix shorts with the same box. Here’s an example of one of their Kitty Kat releases called “Free Lunch”:


Here are the studios that ‘Carnival’ Films released:

Fleischer – Betty Boop and Popeye shorts, all from Exclusive Movies 16mm home movie prints

Bray – ‘The Awful Spook’ with Krazy Kat, in several different boxes labeled ‘Kitty Kat’

Terry/ Van Beuren: A series of Aesop’s Fables. Some of these prints seem to be from the ‘Snappy Films’ releases

Pat Sullivan Studio: A handful of Felix cartoons, often called ‘Kitty Kat’ on the boxes


Here’s some additional random boxes from Carnival.



Have a good week everyone!

8 Comments

  • Ha! Love this stuff! Bought mine at E.J. Korvette’s! Across the street was a very large locally owned department store with a lovely rotating rack of Castle Films. I would check out the Castles, pick out a horror film title (a full 200′ version, if I could afford it) then run across the street and buy the’ added attraction’, a cartoon or comedy at Korvette’s with the change!

  • I love these small fly-by-night companies! Such little information is around, it’s…mysterious, and I love that.

    Steve, that video you posted is an excerpt from “Felix Gets the Can” (1924), but the “punchline” where Felix is shipped home via salmon can is cut off so we only see the man extract a living tail out of his can, making a funny ending into a horrifying one!

    There’s a Winkler/Nolan-era Krazy Kat cartoon circulating under the title of “Dentist Love” which Tommy Jose posted on his old blog (though Devon Baxter on the IAD said it was actually “Teeth for Two” (1926)) and it has a similar title card design to the Felix short you posted…wonder if they have more?

    (http://cartoonsonfilm.blogspot.com/2007/02/more-from-that-krazy-kat-cartoon.html)

    • Thankfully, I was finally able to snag a complete ancient 16mm print of Teeth For Two with original titles a couple years ago!

  • The first Betty Boop cartoon I saw was a Carnival 8mm print. I had never heard of Betty. Loved the cartoon. It whetted my appetite for more.

  • In CHARLIE CHAPLIN AT KEYSTONE AND ESSANAY, Ted Okuda and David Maska describe Carnival Films, along with Atlas and Coast, as being “essentially three limbs sprouting from the same tree. It was not uncommon for consumers to find a Carnival reel in an Atlas box, or for one of Coast’s ‘Best Of’ collections to consist of Carnival-sanctioned titles.”

  • Don’t forget Hollywood Film Enterprises, which printed silent 8 and 16mm prints of late 1930s Lantz and early ’30s to mid 1940s Disney cartoons. Also Sears camera departments had “Tower” brand cartoon prints, which seemed to just take the Atlas and Carnival films prints and put them in a Tower box. A lot of those prints were very murky and dupey, but I loved them, especially Felix and Krazy Kat. The “Kitty Kat” name covered Felix, Krazy, Thomas the Cat from Aesop Fables and Julius the cat from the Alice Comedies. To Carnival and Atlas, they were all the same character, and to an extent, they were! I used to get peeved when I bought a Tower print of a “Kitty Kat”, expecting it to be Felix, taking it home, only to find it was an Aesop’s Film Fable!

  • I recognized that last green Popeye box. One late 60s Christmas, Mom ordered two packs from Sears — three Popeyes and three Betty Boops. They were actually just 25′ (and described as such in old Sears catalogs), but packed on 50′ reels. Each film was obviously just a handful of gags; mercifully no intertitles to eat up footage.

    I was already into Blackhawk films by then (complete Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy two-reelers!), but these were the only Fleischers I ever saw in 8mm. I spliced them all together onto a single 200′ reel (complete cartoons and feature clips from Castle, Ken and others clocked in at 150′, but the reels were designed to hold 200′).

    I’d trot it out for years, and it was part of the psychedelic light shows a junior high classmate staged for school dances. For films intended for hand-crank toy projectors, they were pretty darn sturdy.

    The films were:
    — The shipwreck / ghost bits from “Is My Palm Red”
    — Betty Boop’s Ker-Choo
    — Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (ending with the toy soldiers breaking into tiny toy soldiers)
    — Man on the Flying Trapeze (Popeye and villain fighting on trapeze)
    — Beware of Barnacle Bill
    … for the life of me can’t remember the final Popeye.

  • Loved this article! I certainly bought my share of Atlas and Carnival films as a kid; not just cartoons, but Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and other comedians. Those 25-footers were almost certainly made by Atlas for the Brumberger Company, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer of both photo supplies (reels and cans, slide mounts, darkroom trays, etc.) and toys. They made a hand-cranked toy 8mm projector with 50-foot capacity and a flashlight bulb for a lamp, and a more advanced AC-powered machine with a motor and 200′ capacity; which may be familiar as the 8mm projector advertised for years in the back pages of Famous Monsters.

    For a couple years at least, Atlas was the official licensee for NFL films in 8mm; which they also manufactured for Cragstan Corporation, a toy company that made toy 8mm viewers and projectors. The Cragstan viewers apparently had a sort of double life; they were sold in toy stores with the football films and cartoons, which was their intended market; but a lot of them were also sold in “adult bookstores” with 8mm porn loops!

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