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.
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:
Here’s some additional random boxes from Carnival.
Have a good week everyone!