THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
October 9, 2014 posted by

Kinex Studios “Cinegraph Sweepstakes” (1930)

The broadcast on Turner Classic Movies was very nice – the Winsor McCay films with John Canemaker and the 100th anniversary of the Bray Studios with Tom Stathes were wonderful, though sadly a mistake on the computer programming level left the Van Beuren section of the programming absent. Happily, it’s available on video on demand at TCM.com, and will also be broadcast (in full HD) on December 7, at midnight.

But that’s all water under the darn, as Jack Benny says…

Cinegraph Sweepstakes

Cinegraph Sweepstakes

I thought it would be a good day to show the recently found reel of Cinegraph Sweepstakes (1930) get a proper showing, This has been on my looking-for list for a lot of years, and was one of the mystery films from the Kinex Studios that produced Stop-Motion animation for Kodak. My friends Chris Buchman and Rex Schneider found the film offered in a 1930 Kodak Cinegraph catalog. As far as can be determined, this was the first ‘Home Movie’ betting game – a format that was more successfully repeated in the 40’s and 50s by Official film’s Broadway Handicap.

Ira Gallen posted a reel from that it here.

Here’s the complete set for sale on Ebay right now,complete with betting slips.

The way it worked was simple: Bets were placed on what horse would win, then one of the six reels of unmarked films were run on the projector, with the winner of the bet determined by the winner in the random film that was run.

broaway-handicxap

I remember new prints were still available as late as the early 80s; Harry Hilfinger’s ES-OS pictures catalog was selling the film in both super 8 and 16mm versions, sound and silent. Harry was famous among film collectors, being in the business well into his early 90s. He died in 2011 at the ripe old age of 94; I used to buy splicing tape and super 8 films from his catalog, and even some end tags for home movies. When I won a prize at the 1981 Ann Arbor 8mm film festival, it was from Harry, who cheerfully sent me at least 10 rolls of tri-x super 8mm film along with a b/w silent print of Monstro the Whale. Here’s a little tribute to him, on the 8mm forum.

monstro-8mm

I wonder if the idea was Kodak’s originally, or of the folks at Kinex Studios. If noting else, it does seem like Kodak-Kinex were the first to come up with the idea. Here is one reel of the original Cinegraph Sweepstakes films, something I thought I’d never see, and it’s as fun and imaginative as I hoped it would be. This print is courtesy of Thomas Stathes, fresh off of TCM and working on launching a line of rare animation on Blu-ray. Maybe someday the whole set will show up. For now, here’s a transfer of the one reel that has shown up so far. Have a great weekend everyone!

8 Comments

  • Steve: Today is the day-I think I have the full set of these…

  • WOW!!!!! This is so awesome! More creepy-faced puppets from Kinex.

  • Hey Mark-REALLY? You an’ I should talk!!!

  • Is anybody at the stick at TCM or is the whole thing on auto-pilot? TCM is my favorite channel and a national treasure I think but I was disappointed big time on Monday’s animation block. Steve’s segment was the one I was most looking forward to but the Windsor McCay segment got off to a bad start by showing the cartoons like the introduction in wide screen format with top & bottom of film images cut off. When they repeated the segment (part way anyway!) in place of Steve’s spot they admittedly had corrected that. An apology for the mix up would have been appreciated but again I suspect that is impossible with no humans running the show. How would viewers who wanted to see the Van Beuren segment know it was available on demand or would be shown on December 7…at MIDNIGHT (whoopee!) if they weren’t Cartoon Research (another national treasure by the way!) readers? Anyway a big BOO! to TCM for that Monday night fiasco!

    • It is available on demand for a few more days. Jerry made a link up at the top (on TCM.com) and you can see it by signing in to your cable provider. It’s low res compared to the HD version, but there!

  • Steve- Yes indeed!

  • I actually remember them using those betting films (not the cartoon ones but the others) at Church carnivals on the south side of Chicago in the 1850’s as fundraisers! Hadn’t thought about them in years

  • I agree with Harvey. Kind of a mess on TCM’s part. (They’ve messed up before, but never that big?) But I’m glad they’ve already re-scheduled Mr. Stanchfield’s segment. In spite of the mess-up, I still think that TCM is the greatest movie channel in the entire known Universe.

    I liked the other two segments, though, and I admit I didn’t notice the cropped boo-boo. I usually notice those things. I must say I’m also looking forward to Mr. Stathes’s Blu-Ray offering. That must cost a bit of money for “boutique” operations! I really appreciate what he and and Thunderbean are doing…

    Looking forward to the complete Kinex set some day from Thunderbean – complete with creepy looking characters!

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