This week I’ve uploaded a neat curio: A Castle Films promotional film from 1943, featuring Eugene Castle himself and radio-and-movie star Lew Lehr. It’s an odd little promotional film, but a pretty cool look behind the scenes of the promotional efforts of Castle. Prominent during this time were the Terrytoons cartoons, licensed by Castle, with Kiko the Kangaroo being the big star.Cartoons were some of Castle’s most popular Home Movie offerings. Eventually, Castle would license films from Celebrity productions (Iwerks Comi Color series) and Universal (The Lantz cartoons). They offered many of these films in 8mm and 16mm into the 60s and 70s, with the color Lantz shorts being the last of the films still available. By that point, Castle had been bought by Universal, who changed the name of the company to Universal 8 and Universal 16.
Castle’s prints were offered for sale as well as rental. Castle films and Official films prints are the most common of any cartoon prints still around in 16mm and 8mm.
Here’s an ad (at right) from 1938 promoting their Kiko the Kangaroo films.
..and a box from a KIKO offering. This was the popular box design for Kiko from
the last 30s into the 40s…
..and a neat little cartoon catalog from Castle, circa early 40s
I always thought Lew Lehr was odd at best, and when I saw the caricature as a child, I knew it was someone, but never knew *who*. Since Lehr died fairly young (at 54 years old in 1950) he didn’t make it into the Television age, where, had he been around, would probably be better known today. They especially loved spoofing Lew Lehr at Warner Brothers… here’s a few caricatures of Lehr from Porky in Egypt, Porky’s Snooze Reel and Russian Rhapsody. He’s in others as well, including She Was An Acrobat’s Daughter.
Here’s a typical entry from Lehr’s Fox Movietone years:
The following is the 1943 Castle Films promotional film, narrated by Mr. Castle with an appearance by Mr. Lehr. This print is courtesy of Chris Buchman, who has a knack of finding these sorts of things. He had me transfer it as it was starting to warp and smell. I don’t think the print is even runable on a projector any more, sadly.
While we are at it – here’s a silent print someone put up on youtube of The Prize Package – originally released theatrically in 1936 by Educational Pictures as Farmer Al Falfa’s Prize Package – complete with all the Castle Films silent title cards: