ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 15, 2021 posted by Jim Korkis

Disney on 8mm

Suspended Animation #302

As a teenager, I grew up walking downtown to the local camera store and purchased Castle Films editions of clips from classic Universal Studios horror films, or Walter Lantz cartoons, to thread carefully onto my little rickety projector in order to get a very few minutes of cinema that would be shown on a outstretched white bed sheet, blank wall, or sometimes an awkwardly balanced tripod screen.

The film might break and, if so, you had to splice it back together by hand, or it might freeze in the projector and the bulb would burn the film. If you were clever enough, you could splice several small reels together for a longer show. Eastman Kodak produced 8mm beginning in 1932, specifically for home movies.

In 1934 Hollywood Film Enterprises (HFE) exclusively licensed the use of Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts, primarily for the Keystone hand crank 16mm home movie projector. HFE was a film laboratory that went into the home movie business of releasing a variety of home movie products, including edited Westerns, comedies, cartoons, and more to keep their equipment running between their regular outside orders.

Each silent cartoon ran about one to three minutes because HFE/Cine Art would take a theatrical release of a seven-minute Disney animated short and cut it down into several different films. In the process, they renamed each of these edited cartoons, leading some current collectors to believe they had discovered a new “lost” Mickey Mouse cartoon.

Football Manglers and Forward Pass were two edited cartoons taken from Touchdown Mickey. Mickey’s Brigade Turns Out was an excerpt from The Firefighters. Donald Duck’s Trained Seals was a segment from Mickey’s Circus.

It is easy to see how a consumer might assume these were the actual name of the cartoon, and were unable to locate those titles listed anywhere, leading them to believe they had discovered a previously unknown Disney animated short.

Beginning in the 1940s, HFE also offered 8mm versions. Standard 8mm originally was simply double sprocket 16mm split into two prints. HFE’s releases, supplied directly from the Disney Studio negatives, were incredibly sharp and very-well-struck prints, with very good saturation of grey tones.

Instead of using the common Kodak color film stock, Hollywood films instead used Ansco safety films for its later color releases, but they lacked the sharpness of its original DuPont stock on the black-and-white cartoons.

These cartoons were released on 100-foot reels, meaning that the cartoons now lasted four to maybe five minutes with people unfamiliar with the originals never realizing what had been skillfully edited out. Some have suggested that Disney insisted on only edited versions so as not to infringe on the originals.

Most of these were black-and-white and silent, although, in the late 1950s, about a dozen previous black-and-white titles were offered in 16mm sound and, by the 1960s, a number were available in 8mm Eastman Color. The HFE license was terminated when Disney decided to go into the home movie business for themselves.

“In 1968, it was decided that Walt Disney Productions would form their own 8mm division,” said Rand Christensen, marketing supervisor for Walt Disney 8mm division in a 1975 interview with animation historian John Cawley. “The reason was simple. If you look at our company as a whole, you’ll see that we have found that if somebody else could do it, many times we could do it just as well if not better.

“Walt Disney 8mm used to be considered the best kept secret of the company. Originally, we sold only through camera and photographic outlets because that was how it had always been done.”

Disney 8mm films went through two stringent quality-control checks before release. In addition, Disney insisted on using new stock, not “end of runs,” which were common from some other companies. Some of the releases were packaged in blister-packs so they could be hung on standing racks.

The home movie division was located in the Walt Disney Educational Media Company building in Glendale, California. Also housed in the building was the 16mm rental department for schools and groups, and the Walt Disney Music Company.

In fact, Walt Disney Home Movies division wouldn’t release any of the classic black-and-white shorts, thinking that modern audiences didn’t want to watch black-and-white cartoons, even going so far as to put an apologetic disclaimer card in the commemorative edition Mickey Mouse: The First 50 Years that included Steamboat Willie as it was in black-and-white.

The division had a small work force of only a half-dozen employees supplemented by the fact that they could utilize the services of the Disney Studios’ artists, film technicians, and sound experts to produce the final product.

The Glendale office did all the cutting of the clips. Worldwide distribution was handled by offices around the world, including London, Tokyo, Paris, and many more. Those outlets offered films and differently cut versions not found in American releases.

Sometimes releases would correspond with the re-release of a Disney animated feature, although the rule of thumb of the division was never more than two clips per feature available at any one time.

So, for instance, a clip from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs might just focus on an edited version of the “Whistle While You Work” song, which turned out to be the most popular clip ever sold by Disney 8mm. Other popular clips were Cinderella getting her dress for the ball and Bambi and Thumper ice skating.

The introduction of Super 8 film in the late 1960s, where the dimensions of the perforations are smaller than those on older 8mm film allowing the exposed area to be made larger, was adopted by Disney Home Movies in the mid-1970s. The film also had an oxide stripe on which optical (rather than magnetic) sound could be recorded, again positioning Disney from other companies and suggesting greater quality.

“At all our labs, we specify an acetate based stock as opposed to an estar based stock,” Product supervisor Bruce Brewer said. “We use acetate because it is a weaker stock and will not damage the projector if threaded wrong. It is also the current standard for home movies. Estar stock is used in cartridge machines. It is very strong and can’t be broken easily, and may even break projectors before the film is damaged.”

By the 1980s, Disney phased out selling 8mm and Super 8 films.

As the late Dave Smith, the legendary Disney Archivist told me, there is no sense in collecting these films, except for the box art or as a curiosity. They have no intrinsic value.

He said, “The old 8mm film versions of Disney cartoons are practically valueless today. Few people have projectors, the films have gotten brittle and practically all the films have been released on video cassette or DVD.”

However for people like me, there is certainly a nostalgic value to these old films.

Songwriter Richard M. Sherman recalled that his earliest Disney memories were these home movie versions: “My memories go back to when my dad would run black-and-white short films of Mickey Mouse on the wall of our New York apartment. The images filled the room. Mickey was my best friend. One day, part of the film burned in the projector and it broke my heart. Dad spliced the film but there was always a skip. I still watched it over and over.”

25 Comments

  • As an owner of over 50 Disney Super 8 mm, I rarely play them these days –
    But during the 1970’s and early 80’s at time of purchase they were continuously being watched.

    Prior to the VCR the only way to watch Disney was for the most part once a week on the Disneyland TV show. (apart from the handfuls of years the first two The Mickey Mouse Clubs aired, or going to movie screenings released during the School Vac)

    Even after I purchased my first VCR in 1978 and began recording the show, the other advantage of Super 8mm was the screen size – much bigger than the largest TV size of the time (26 inches).

    These days I have a projector which projects TV images on a 212 inch screen for DVD/Blu Rays.
    Super 8mm on their projectors are OK up to about 50 inch range, but lose a lot of light by the 100 inch range.

    But do I regret getting the Super 8mm films? No way.
    And just looking at the covers evokes a lot of memories – particularly when coming home from the movies, and attempting to relive some of the experience by watching the 1 or 2 Super 8mm extracts available for that title.

  • Interesting that Disney started marketing Super 8 films in the mid-’70s. My brother had a silent, black-and-white Super 8 print of “Bambi Falls in Love”. He sold his Super 8 camera and film editor/viewer (he never got around to buying a projector) before he bought his first car in 1975, so that print must have been one of Disney’s first Super 8 releases. The clip suffered greatly from the lack of colour and music, and there were superfluous subtitles giving lines of dialogue that weren’t in the original film (“FALINE IS MINE!” “OH NO SHE’S NOT!”). But studying Jack Bradbury’s animation frame by frame was a real revelation for me.

    Despite these Disney home movies having “no intrinsic value”, somebody is asking US$30 for a silent black-and-white Super 8 print of “Bambi Falls in Love” on eBay right now.

  • My 8mm dollars when I was a kid were generally split between Abbott and Costello shorts on Castle and Disney cartoons. Warner Bros., Terrytoons and Walter Lantz cartoons were always readily available at K-Mart and Woolco, and I liked the Warner cartoons better, but I could see them on TV every day. The Disney stuff was virtually impossible to see back then. A vintage short might be added to one of their live-action features as an opener, and once or twice a year the Disney TV show would trot out one of their cartoon compilations, but that was about it. I’ve still got all those 8mm films and still have a working projector to show them on.

    I also still have my dad’s HFE Disney reels, which are al 16mm.

    Hey, if you want to get a puzzled reactiion from a young person, show them an 8mm, black-and-white, silent, subtitled version of a cartoon or feature extract and try to make them understand why it was a really big deal to have those back then.

  • “The film also had an oxide stripe on which optical (rather than magnetic) sound could be recorded”

    Isn’t this wrong way around? The sound was magnetic, no? (Confirmed by the video and by my own faulty memory.)

  • The film also had an oxide stripe on which optical (rather than magnetic) sound could be recorded

    I think this is supposed to say “magnetic (rather than optical)”.

  • ERIC and ZACHARY: Yes, you are absolutely correct. In my excitement I inadvertently switched the two. It was tough trying to research this subject but I wanted to write about it since no one else seems to have done so.

  • The Ansco stock that HFE used may have been a bit soft in focus, but it was reversal ‘chrome stock, so it is resistant to fading.
    Most of the Disney-based 8mm releases were printed on Eastman color stock which is very susceptible to fading, probably most of their prints have faded to red by now.

  • Thanks Jim, great read. I have dozens of Disney’s on Super 8. The compilations were excellent too and sold in big numbers eg Goofy’s Golden Gags contained several edited cartoons on one 400ft colour sound reel.

    Derann of the UK of course supplied many compete cartoons on Super 8 often in low fade colour. These are certainly worth more than Disney’s own releases and can bring good dollars now.

  • I have the. 400 ft. Mickey Mouse 50th Anniversary gold cover collectors edition available. Comes with a superb collectors booklet. Color has warmed. Mint. $45. Shipped

  • When I was in my teens in the early 70’s I borrowed a Reg 8, 200′ color-silent digest of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from the public library to show at a neighbor’s daughter’s birthday party. It was the sharpest 8mm I ever saw.

  • Here’s a list of all of the HFE titles I have found so far, with the original short name in parenthesis. I would love to get any additions or corrections!

    Airplane Antics
    Alkali-Ike Mickey (Two Gun Mickey)
    All American Mickey (Touchdown Mickey) (sound)
    Animal Land
    April Showers
    Arabian Vacation (Mickey in Arabia)
    Arabs vs. Mickey (Mickey in Arabia)

    Barnyard Beauties (Mickey’s Follies)
    Big Parade, The
    Big Race, The (Barnyard Olympics)
    Big Story – A Tall Tale (Gulliver Mickey)
    Big Tent, The (Mickey’s Circus)
    Bill Posters (same name)
    Black Bottom Dance
    Brownies, The
    Buzzing Around (Camping Out)

    Cannibal Capers (Trader Mickey)
    Cannibal Dance
    Cannibals
    Captain Mickey
    Carnival Days
    Castaway Mickey (Castaway, The)
    Cat and the Fiddle
    Cat’s Away, The
    Cavalier Mickey (Mickey’s Follies)
    Charging Bull, The (El Terrible Toreador)
    Christmas in Toyland (Midnight in a Toy Shop) (sound)
    Clara Cluck in Chicken Coop Melodies
    Clara Cluck in Clara and Mickey
    Clara Cluck in Sour Notes
    Clara Cluck – The Opera Singer
    Clarabelle Cow – Acrobatic Antics
    Clarabelle Cow in Fast Curves
    Clarabelle Cow in Flying Feet
    Clarabelle Cow in Stepping High
    Clarabelle Cow in the Dizzy Dancer
    Cowboy Mickey (Two Gun Mickey)
    Crafty Crow, The
    Croak Little Frog
    Cross Country Champ (Barnyard Olympics)

    Dancing Dwarfs
    Dancing Toys, The
    Dancing with Minnie
    Day at the Beach, A (Beach Party, The)
    Dead Shot Mickey (Two Gun Mickey)
    Dinner Time (Country Cousin)
    Dog Catcher Mickey (Playful Pluto)
    Doll Parade, The
    Donald and the Mountain Goat
    Donald Duck – Getting the Hook
    Donald Duck Gets Stung (Orphan’s Picnic)
    Donald Duck in Busting Bubbles
    Donald Duck in Donald’s Exit
    Donald Duck in Donald’s Finish
    Donald Duck in Donald’s Playmate
    Donald Duck in Duck Quick
    Donald Duck in Ducking Out (Orphan’s Picnic)
    Donald Duck in Dumb Donald
    Donald Duck in Fancy Steps
    Donald Duck in High Altitude (Alpine Climbers)
    Donald Duck in Homeless (Moving Day)
    Donald Duck in Magician Mickey (Magician Mickey)
    Donald Duck in Magnetic Pluto (Donald and Pluto)
    Donald Duck in Matching Tricks (Magician Mickey)
    Donald Duck in Red Hot Bullets
    Donald Duck in Scrambled Eggs
    Donald Duck in Squeak Squeak
    Donald Duck in Stage Struck
    Donald Duck in Swat Him
    Donald Duck in the Barber Chair (Modern Inventions)
    Donald Duck in the Big Show
    Donald Duck in the Joker (Magician Mickey)
    Donald Duck in the Rescue
    Donald Duck in the Robot Nursemaid (Modern Inventions)
    Donald Duck – the Ham Actor
    Donald Duck the Mechanic (Mickey’s Service Station)(sound)
    Donald Duck the Smoke Eater
    Donald Duck’s Buzz Saw Battle (Dognapper, The)
    Donald Gets Ducked
    Donald in Buzz Saw Battle (Dognapper, The)
    Donald in Ducking Out (Orphan’s Picnic)
    Donald in Off Balance
    Donald in the Master Plumber (Donald and Pluto)
    Donald in the Rescue
    Donald the Auto Mechanic (Mickey’s Service Station)
    Donald the Skater
    Donald’s Day Off (Orphan’s Picnic)
    Donald’s Fast Finish
    Donald’s Ice Capers
    Donald’s One Stop Service
    Donald’s Outing (Orphan’s Picnic)
    Donald’s Trained Seals
    Down Mexico Way
    Duck Hunters (Duck Hunt, The)

    Early Bird, The
    Engineer Mickey (Mickey’s Choo Choo)
    Expressman Mickey (Delivery Boy, The)

    Fairyland
    Fancy Steps
    Farmyard Athletes (Barnyard Olympics)
    Farmyard Follies (Mickey’s Follies)
    Farmyard Olympics (Barnyard Olympics)
    Fast and Furious (Dognapper, The)
    Fire Works
    Fireman, The
    Fishing Trouble (Fishin’ Around)
    Flying Trapeze, The
    Forward Pass (Touchdown Mickey)
    Football Manglers
    Foxy Fox, The
    Foxy Squirrel, The
    Full Steam Ahead (Mickey’s Steam Roller)
    Fun at the Beach (Beach Party, The)

    Gold Rush Mickey (Klondike Kid, The) (sound)
    Grasshopper Dance
    Guest, The (Country Cousin, The)

    High Speed Mickey (Mickey’s Steam Roller)
    Hired and Fired (Pet Store, The)
    Hoot Owl, Hoot
    Horace Horsecollar
    Hot Feet
    Hot Soup
    Hurdles and Hazards (Steeplechase, The)

    Ice Cold Mickey

    Jack and Jill
    Jealous Mickey, A (Mickey’s Rival)
    Jungle Adventure (Castaway, The)
    Jungle Animals

    Kitchen Mechanic Mickey
    Kitten Trouble (Mickey’s Pal Pluto)

    Lion, The
    Lion’s Rite, The
    Little Bo Peep
    Little Dwarfs
    Little Elves, The
    Little Jack Horner
    Little Miss Muffett

    Master Plumber, The (Donald and Pluto)
    Matching Tricks (Magician Mickey)
    Mechanical Crib, The
    Mexican Romance
    Mickey and Minnie
    Mickey and Pegleg Pete (Shanghaied)
    Mickey and Pluto
    Mickey and Pluto the Heroes
    Mickey and Simon Legree (Mickey’s Mellerdrammer) (sound)
    Mickey and the Bull (El Terrible Toreador)
    Mickey and the Giant (Giantland) (sound)
    Mickey and the Gorilla
    Mickey and the Kidnapper (Mickey in Arabia)
    Mickey and the Lilliputians (Gulliver Mickey) (sound)
    Mickey and the Pirates (Shanghaied)
    Mickey Enlists
    Mickey Fails
    Mickey Fishes Around
    Mickey Gets Caught
    Mickey Gets Dunked (Delivery Boy, The)
    Mickey Gets the Bird (Moose Hunt, The)
    Mickey Gives a Party (Whoopee Party, The) (sound)
    Mickey Goes Courting
    Mickey Goes Hunting
    Mickey Goes Stepping
    Mickey Goes to War
    Mickey Goes Wild
    Mickey in a Tall Tale
    Mickey in Dizzy Pilot (Mail Pilot, The)
    Mickey in Stop ‘Em Flying (Camping Out)
    Mickey in the Gorilla Tamer (Pet Store, The)
    Mickey in Tiny Town (Gulliver Mickey)
    Mickey in Vaudeville
    Mickey Loses Out
    Mickey Makes a Date
    Mickey Misses
    Mickey Out West
    Mickey Performs
    Mickey Plays Papa (Mickey’s Orphans)
    Mickey Plays Santa Claus (Mickey’s Orphans)
    Mickey Saves Minnie
    Mickey Saves the Airmail (Mail Pilot, The) (sound)
    Mickey Serenades Minnie
    Mickey Steps High
    Mickey Steps Out
    Mickey the Band Leader
    Mickey the Band Master
    Mickey the Bird Catcher
    Mickey the Castaway
    Mickey the Cook
    Mickey the Dog Watcher
    Mickey the Duck Hunter
    Mickey the Farmer
    Mickey the Fireman
    Mickey the Grocery Clerk
    Mickey the Hero
    Mickey the Hunter (Moose Hunt, The)
    Mickey the Janitor
    Mickey the Juggler
    Mickey the Life Guard
    Mickey the Messenger
    Mickey the Milkmaid
    Mickey the Moose Hunter
    Mickey the Pilot
    Mickey the Steelworker (Building a Building)
    Mickey the Taxi Driver (Traffic Troubles)
    Mickey to the Rescue
    Mickey Tricks
    Mickey vs. Cannibals (Trader Mickey)
    Mickey Whoopee
    Mickey Wins Out
    Mickey’s Air Raid (Camping Out)
    Mickey’s Airplane Antics (Mail Pilot, The)
    Mickey’s and Minnie’s Dancing Act
    Mickey’s Arabian Fight (Mickey in Arabia)
    Mickey’s Australian Surprise (Mickey’s Kangaroo)
    Mickey’s Bad Dream
    Mickey’s Banana Lunch
    Mickey’s Barn Dance
    Mickey’s Barnyard Melodies
    Mickey’s Best Girl
    Mickey’s Bicycle Race
    Mickey’s Big Act
    Mickey’s Big Blow
    Mickey’s Big Bust
    Mickey’s Big Chase
    Mickey’s Big Show
    Mickey’s Big Slide
    Mickey’s Big Story (Gulliver Mickey)
    Mickey’s Birthday Cake
    Mickey’s Bite
    Mickey’s Blackbirds
    Mickey’s Blow Out
    Mickey’s Boat Ride
    Mickey’s Box Lunch
    Mickey’s Buggy Ride
    Mickey’s Busy Day
    Mickey’s Canary
    Mickey’s Cat
    Mickey’s Champ Kicker (Mickey’s Kangaroo)
    Mickey’s Clever Stunt
    Mickey’s Comeback
    Mickey’s Cuties (Mickey’s Follies)
    Mickey’s Daffy Tunes
    Mickey’s Dancing Dogs
    Mickey’s Duck Lure (Duck Hunt, The)
    Mickey’s Exciting Picnic (Camping Out)
    Mickey’s Express (Mickey’s Choo Choo)
    Mickey’s Fast Delivery (Delivery Boy, The)
    Mickey’s Fast Train (Mickey’s Choo Choo)
    Mickey’s Finish
    Mickey’s Fly Trap (Playful Pluto)
    Mickey’s Giant Rabbit (Mickey’s Kangaroo)
    Mickey’s Grocery (Grocery Boy, The)
    Mickey’s Hand Organ
    Mickey’s Holiday
    Mickey’s Hot Dog
    Mickey’s Jazz Band (Delivery Boy, The)
    Mickey’s Jazzy Orchestra
    Mickey’s Jungle Adventure (Castaway, The)
    Mickey’s Jungle Escape
    Mickey’s Jungle Pals
    Mickey’s Kitten
    Mickey’s Last Stand (Barnyard Battle, The)
    Mickey’s Little Eva (Mickey’s Mellerdrammer)
    Mickey’s Little Pets
    Mickey’s Lucky Break
    Mickey’s Lunch
    Mickey’s Mad Dog (Mad Dog, The)
    Mickey’s Marathon
    Mickey’s Melodies
    Mickey’s Misfortune
    Mickey’s Mishap
    Mickey’s Mixup
    Mickey’s Moose Hunt (Moose Hunt, The)
    Mickey’s Musicians
    Mickey’s Narrow Escape
    Mickey’s Olympic Games
    Mickey’s Orphan Child
    Mickey’s Outboard (Fishin’ Around)
    Mickey’s Outing (Beach Party, The)
    Mickey’s Party
    Mickey’s Playful Musicians
    Mickey’s Playmates
    Mickey’s Quick Exit
    Mickey’s Rehearsals
    Mickey’s Rhythm Boys
    Mickey’s Royal Battle (Ye Olden Days)
    Mickey’s Seals (Castaway, The)
    Mickey’s Skeleton Dance
    Mickey’s Sky Battle (Mail Pilot, The)
    Mickey’s Spooks
    Mickey’s Steam Shovel
    Mickey’s Stinging Finish (Steeplechase, The)
    Mickey’s Surprise
    Mickey’s Surprise Package (Mickey’s Kangaroo)
    Mickey’s Swiss Tune
    Mickey’s Terrible Tune
    Mickey’s Tough Luck
    Mickey’s Trap (Playful Pluto)
    Mickey’s Trick Horse (Steeplechase, The) (sound)
    Mickey’s Trouble
    Mickey’s Turkey
    Mickey’s Waterloo
    Mickey’s Wild Ducks
    Mickey’s Wild Party (Whoopee Party, The)
    Mickey’s Windshield Wiper (Picnic, The)
    Midnight
    Moose Hunters (Moose Hunt, The)
    Movie Star Mickey (Mickey’s Gala Premiere) (sound)
    Mystic Castle, The (Mad Doctor, The)

    Octopus Fight, The (Beach Party, The)
    Old King Cole

    Peanut Peddler, The
    Pegleg the Pirate (Shanghaied)
    Picnic Stealers, The (Picnic, The)
    Pirate Mickey (Shanghaied)
    Pluto and the Clock (Donald and Pluto)
    Pluto and the Rabbits (Picnic, The)
    Pluto Gets the Bird (Grocery Boy, The)
    Pluto in the Wailing Lesson (Mickey’s Elephant)
    Pluto Saves the Day (Fishin’ Around)
    Pluto the Decoy (Duck Hunt, The)
    Pluto the Life Saver (Alpine Climbers)
    Pluto’s Better Self (Mickey’s Pal Pluto)
    Pluto’s Conscience (Mickey’s Pal Pluto)
    Pluto’s Fish Story (Fishin’ Around)
    Pluto’s Good Deed (Mickey’s Pal Pluto)
    Pluto’s Shower Bath (Playful Pluto)

    Rapid Fire Mickey (Two Gun Mickey)
    Red Hot Bullets (Mickey’s Fire Brigade)
    Robinson Crusoe (Mickey’s Man Friday)
    Rough Going
    Runaway Choo Choo (Mickey’s Choo Choo)
    Running Wild (Mickey’s Steam Roller)

    Santa Claus Land
    Sheriff Came, The (Moving Day)
    Shopkeeper Mickey (Grocery Boy, The)
    Six Shooter Mickey (Two Gun Mickey)
    Skeleton Skit, The
    Sour Notes
    Spanish Serenade
    Speedy Cop, The (Mickey’s Steamroller) or Steam Roller?
    Spooky Spooks
    Stage Struck (Orphan’s Benefit)
    Steamboat Mickey
    Stinging Finish
    Summer Days
    Super Service (Mickey’s Service Station)
    Surprise Package
    Swat Him Mickey (Camping Out)

    Teddy Bear Dance
    Tooting the Tuba
    Toreador, The (El Terrible Toreador)
    Toy Shop Revue
    Toyland
    Tradesman Mickey (Grocery Boy, The)
    Trap Him Mickey (Camping Out)

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Mickey’s Mellerdrammer)

    We Love Pluto
    Whirlwind Mickey (Mail Pilot, The)
    Wild Duck Chase, The (Duck Hunt, The)
    Wild West Mickey (Two Gun Mickey)
    Window Cleaners (same name)

    Your Hat Please (Mickey’s Gala Premiere)

    Zu-Lu Jazz

  • Film Office in France also had a number of Disney cartoons since the fifties. Several were cut in three 50 ft versions which, if joined together, made an almost complete version of the original.A few were later released in color.And of course in every part of the world there always existed ,legally or illegaly,Disney cartoons.

  • Derann in UK had a Disney deal in the 90´s and early 2000´s. Their prints were excellent and printed on low fade stock. They were licensed for uropean Union only. Here´s a list covering both cartoon shorts and full features.
    THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD, THE 3 x 600ft. Col. Price code R
    ALADDIN 4 x 600ft. Col STEREO Price code T 
    ARISTOCATS, THE 3 x 600ft. Col price code Q
    ALPINE CLIMBERS 1 x 200ft. Col Price Code E x 2
    AUTOGRAPH HOUND 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    BAMBI 3 x 600ft. Col Price Code. Q 
    BEARLY ASLEEP 1 x 200ft. Col SCOPE Price code F
    BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3 x 600ft. Col. STEREO. Price code Q
    BOAT BUILDERS 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR, THE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    BROKEN TOYS 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    BUGS LIFE, A 4 x 600`. Col. Scope.Stereo.Price code T
    CHIP ‘N’ DALE 1 x 200`. Col. Price code E
    CINDERELLA 3 x 600ft. Col Price code S
    CIRCLE OF LIFE, THE 1 x 200ft. Col . Price code D
    CLEAR PASTURE 1 x 200`. Col. Price code E
    CLOCK CLEANERS 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    CRAZY OVER DAISY 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    DANCE OF THE HOURS Extract from “Fantasia” 1 x 400`. Col. Price code N
    DINOSAUR PROMO Opening sequence. 1 x 200`. Col. Price code JJ
    DONALD’S CRIME 1 x 200ft. Col. Price code E
    DONALD’S OSTRICH 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    DONALD’S SNOWFIGHT 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    DUMBO 2 x 600`. Col. Price code L
    ELMER ELEPHANT 1 x 200ft. Col. Price code. F
    FANTASIA 2000 4 x 600`. Stereo. Parts available separately. Price Code Q.
    FARMYARD SYMPHONY 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    FIGARO AND FRANKIE 1 x 200ft. Col price code E
    THE FLYING MOUSE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    FOX AND THE HOUND 4 x 600ft. Col Price code Q
    FOX HUNT 1 x 200ft. Col Price Code F
    FUN AND FANCY FREE 3 x 600ft. Col Price code R
    GOOFY’S GLIDER 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F.
    GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANTS 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME,THE 4 x 600ft. Col STEREO Price code T
    THE JUNGLE BOOK 3 x 600ft. Col STEREO. Price code. Q
    LADY AND THE TRAMP 4 x 600ft. SCOPE/STEREO Price code T
    LION KING, THE 4 x 600ft Col STEREO Price code T
    THE LION KING PROMO 1 x 200ft. Col Price code D
    LITTLE HIAWATHA 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    LITTLE MERMAID SING A LONG 1 x 200ft. Col Price code D
    LITTLE TOOT 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    LONESOME GHOSTS 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    LULLABY LAND 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    MAGICIAN MICKEY 1 x 200`. Col. Price code E
    MARY POPPINS 5 x 600ft. Col Price code X
    MERBABIES 1 x 200ft. Price code E
    MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL 1 x 600ft. Col STEREO. Price code J
    MICKEY’S DELAYED DATE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    MICKEY’S FIRE BRIGADE 1 x 200ft. Col. Price code. F
    MICKEY’S GRAND OPERA 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    MICKEY’S POLO TEAM 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    MICKEY’S SERVICE STATION 1 x 200ft. B/W Price code F
    MICKEY’S TRAILER 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E 
    MORRIS THE MIDGET MOOSE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    MOTHER GOOSE GOES HOLLYWOOD 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    MUSICLAND 1 x 200ft. Col price code E
    NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN, A Extract from “Fantasia”. 1 x 400`. Col. Price code FF.
    NITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, THE 1 x 200ft Col. Price code F
    NUTCRACKER SUITE, THE Extract from “Fantasia” 1 x 400`. Col. Price code FF
    NO SAIL 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    101 DALMATIONS 3 x 600ft. Col Price code Q
    THE OLD MILL 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    ON ICE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    ONCE UPON A MOUSE 1 X 600ft. Col. Price code J
    PASTORAL SYMPHONY The Flying Horse extract from “Fantasia” 1 x 200`. Col. Price code E
    PASTORAL SYMPHONY #2 Extract from “Fantasia” 1 x 400`. Col. Price code FF
    PETER AND THE WOLF About 13 mins. Price code H
    PETER PAN 3 x 600ft. Col. Price code S
    PINOCCHIO 4 x 600ft. Col. Price code Q
    PLUTO’S CHRISTMAS TREE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    PLUTO’S PURCHASE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    POCAHONTAS 4 x 600ft. Col.STEREO Price code T
    POCAHONTAS PROMO 1 x 200ft. Col Price code C
    PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, THE 1 x 600ft. Col. STEREO. Price code J
    RITE OF SPRING, THE 1 x 400`. Col. Price code FF
    ROLLERCOASTER RABBIT 1 x 200ft. Col STEREO Price code F
    RUNAWAY BRAIN 1 x 200ft. Col STEREO.
    SANTA’S WORKSHOP 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    SEVEN WISE DWARFS 1 x 50ft. Col Price code B
    SKELETON DANCE, THE 1 x 200ft. B/W Price code E
    SLEEPING BEAUTY 3 x 600ft. Col SCOPE /STEREO Price code Q
    SMALL ONE, THE 1 x 600ft. Col Price code J
    SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 3 x 600ft. Col Price code O
    SOUP SONG, THE 1 x 200`. B/W. Price code PP
    STEAMBOAT WILLY 1 x 200ft. B/W Price code E
    SUSIE THE LITTLE BLUE COUPE 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    SWORD IN THE STONE 3 x 600ft. Col Price code R
    SYMPHONY HOUR 1 x 200ft. Col. Price code F
    TARZAN PROMO Opening sequence. 1 x 200`. Col. Price code KK
    THREE BLIND MOUSKETEERS 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    THREE LITTLE PIGS 1x 200ft. Col. Price code E
    THREE LITTLE WOLVES 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    THREE ORPHAN KITTENS 1 x 200ft. Col price code F
    THRU THE MIRROR 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    TIMBER 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    TOCCATA & FUGUE Extract from “Fantasia”. 1 x 400`. Col. Price code G
    TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOM 1 x 200ft. Col STEREO./SCOPE Price code F
    TORTOISE AND THE HARE, THE 1x 200ft. Col Price code E
    TOY STORY 4 x 600ft. Col. STEREO Price code T
    TRICK OR TREAT 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    TUGBOAT MICKEY 1 x 200`. Col. Price code E
    TUMMY TROUBLE 1 x 200ft. Col STEREO. Price code F
    THE UGLY DUCKLING 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E
    WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT 4 x 600ft. Col STEREO. Price code W
    WHO KILLED COCK ROBIN 1 x 200ft. Col. Price code F
    WILLIE THE OPERATIC WHALE 1 x 400ft. Col. Price code H
    WINDOW CLEANERS 1 x 200`. Col. Price code E
    WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY 1 x 600ft. Col Price code J
    WOODLAND CAFÉ 1 x 200ft. Col Price code F
    WYNKEN BLYNKEN AND NOD 1 x 200ft. Col Price code E

  • As a kid collector I assumed Disney just wasn’t available in 8mm or Super8 until Sears put out a film catalog in 1969, which leaned heavily on Blackhawk titles but had a page or two of Disney 150′ reels (the reels held up to 200′, but 150′ was a sort of industry standard. That was the usual length of an uncut theatrical cartoon, and feature cutdowns aimed for that same number). They were silent, $14 for color and $7 for B&W. I splurged on color for “Monstro the Whale” and “Donald and Pluto”. Eventually I acquired — used as well as new — “Chef Donald” (in that very box, “Lonesome Ghosts”, and highlights from “Sleeping Beauty” and “Peter Pan” (the latter looking especially glorious onscreen).

    We started with an ancient Kodak projector; my parents eventually indulged me with a new Kodak that could handle 400′ reels (that being the standard for Blackhawk Films, which carried a lot of two-reel comedies). In 8th grade an entrepreneurial classmate would put together light shows for dances. I’d bring my projector and cast distorted images on the cafetorium walls.

    I never got into 8mm sound, dreaming that grown-up affluence would lead to a 16mm Bell & Howell Filmosound and real movies. Instead I got an RCA Selectavision player and a pile of discs (including World of Color episodes), then gradually surrendered to VHS and rented / collected Disney, other cartoons, serials, early comedy, etc.

    Still remembered being a bit stunned to see an announcement of “The Little Mermaid” on tape. That undid everything I’d learned about Disney practices since boomer childhood. Flash forward to a few shelfloads of Disney titles on DVD, including those precious tins.

    But ah the days of being the boy showman, herding eager audiences into a dark room (away from adults eager to get rid of us), putting a stack of LPs on the record changer, and unreeling cartoons and silent comedy shorts.

  • If you own a little modern technology (such as an 8mm/Super 8 film scanner, which recently have become fairly affordable), and a decent film editing program (I recommend Adobe Premiere), 8mm films are far from worthless. They can be made into MP4 files which, while a little jittery, are incredibly sharp. Moreover, if you deal with the color film stocks (many of which fade to pink or magenta), Adobe Premiere offers at least one preset which, with the touch of a button, takes years off the fading process, removing the pink overtones and restoring a good deal of the greens and a bit of the blues. A little work with the saturation control to taste, and you get a result which, even if not archival, is uniquely quaint, nostalgic, and visually satisfying.

    Transfer in this method further has a major advantage over the old projector – no more burning out projector bulbs after only 10 hours or so at $35 to $45 a pop. The digitizers use an LED light source – no bulb required. And once digitized, you can watch your film over and over again, with no burnout of bulb time and no risk of wearing out, breaking, or scratching your film (a luxury we never had in the old days of collecting 8mm).

    On the subject of the films themselves, those HFE color prints could be amazing. I have a reversal stock 100ft of “Tugboat Mickey” (one which actually released with its real title instead of a rename, consisting of everything following Mickey’s initial sequence with the pelican), and it looks just like Technicolor. On the other hand, there was a series where they offered half-length versions at 50ft, of which I’ve seen two in color, and these were not printed on reversal stock, but standard stock with clear areas around the sprockets. They do not hold the color nearly as well. For example, while Donald’s beak remains a rich orange on “Fire Chief” (which reel consisted of only the first 50 feet in the fire station) and “Timber” (which consisted of the last 50 feet intact for the railroad hand-car chase), his shirt is always at best a purple rather than a true blue. Green level is also weak (a green curtain in “Fire Chief” on the opening shot appears army olive). Anyone know what alternate stock they were using at this time? (It seems better than standard Eastman, but not by much.)

    I also have a question regarding the early days of HFE (or was there any other company that precede them in rights?) I have seen in the possession of my grammar school as a kid two old reels, that either were 50ft 8mm or silent 100ft 16mm “headliners”. Instead of following the idea of cutting the film into two halves to allow for a two reel release, these reels did even worse – cut the “half” in half again! Thus, two different cartoons would be crammed into one reel with a total running time of only two and one half to 3 minutes. The results, as expected, were awful, and left little or no resemblance to a meaningful storyline. One reel, in which the first title I believe was renamed “Mickey Joins the Army”, consisted of just the physical exam sequence from “The Barnyard Battle”, and the second half was a random 25 feet from the beginning of “The Karnival Kid”. A second reel I believe consisted of just the sequence of Black Pete getting his car back from “Mickey’s Service Station”, and the last 25 feet of Donald receiving a bee sandwich in “The Orphan’s Picnic”. Does anyone know how long this period of “snippets” releases continued, and for what years?

    HFE also did issue some films complete and intact (except for theatrical leasers), at least for the silent market. I have no idea if any of these were released in color. All the titles of which I’ve learned came from the Silly Symphony series, and included “Who Killed Cock Robin?”. “The Country Cousin”, and “Mother Pluto”. Anyone know of more releases in this run, and their formats?

    I also own a HFE 50ft Mickey which does not appear on the title list submitted above on this blog, which gives away its age by the phrase chosen – “Stop ‘Em Flying” (a play on words upon the WWII slogan, “Keep ‘Em Flying”, in support of the Army and Navy Air Corps. The film is actual a fairly well-edited summary of the first half of 1933’s “Camping Out”, ending as the gang takes refuge from the mosquitoes inside a tent, with Horace getting stung in the rear end through the tent fabric. Yes, the retitlers could get topical. Another film which seems to be missing from the BFE list above I believe was tutled “Mickey Plays Santa”, and was a sound abridgement of “Mickey’s Orphans’. BFE optical sound editions were curious, as they made many small cuts for time, without much finesse. The audio cuts were particularly audible, as an inspection of the tracks would reveal either pops or audio going to blank for a fraction of a second at the beginning of each cut, with sound level fading back in.

    As for Disney’s own 8mm/Super 8 releases, there are a few little-known secrets. First, how to tell what film stock you’re getting. I am not sure about how to tell on Standard 8 versions, though I believe from boxes I’ve seen that there were two periods – one in which Standard 8 editions may have contained no stickers on the corners, and a later period where they were often identified by a white rectangular sticker with black letters. Super 8 is more easy to discern, as early editions contain a round sticker reading “Super 8″, irrespective of whether in B&W or Color, while later editions remove the round sticker and replace it with rectangular corner stickers, black with white lettering, indicating the film type and whether B&W, Color, and later Sound. The early editions of each type described above were boasted of in the catalog as being printed on “Technicolor” stock. Fat chance. I don’t know what the true source of the stock was, or if Technicolor really was offering a cheap substandard version for the home market during this period, but one thing you could never expect from the film, even fresh out of the box, was to see any gorgeous blues. A Donald Duck shirt, for example, would be brownish purple (much more so than the more intensely saturated late HFE stock discussed above), and the waves on “Hawaiian Holiday” would be grayish. When the changeover to rectangular labels began, Disney, with rare exceptions, substituted Eastman stock – prints which, fresh out of the box, boasted some of the most intense blues and greens in the industry – but just didn’t hold them. Practically all my color prints from this period have faded drastically, some leaving barely a trace of blue and very little green. The ironic thing is that the “Technicolor” prints seem to have retained more of what they originally had than the Eastman prints, and thus actually look better in the long run than the prints that originally far outclassed them in color. Go figure.

    Another important reason for noting the distinction between the “Technicolor” and Eastman period at Disney 8mm (and this applies to the B&W versions, too) is that you can get really gypped during the Eastman period if you gullibly believe the box indication that a title is in a “Complete” edition. When the transition was made to Eastman, Disney for some reason decided, “Hey, our reels of pre-1941 cartoons are too long. Let’s cut out 50 feet so they don’t cost more to make than 40’s or 50’s cartoons.” The result was that, for years until Sound versions became available, nearly all pre-1941 cartoons in the catalog were cropped by 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, yet marked as “complete”. Also, the extended-length “Trick or Treat” received the same treatment. The results could be painful. The Three Little Pigs never get to sung about “I Build My House Of…” The Ugly Duckling never tries to settle in with the baby marsh birds, nor meets the duck decoy. The “Hawaiian Holiday” breaks in cold on Donald’s hula. Mickey never meets the stork in “Clock Cleaners”. Donald never engages in his own personal battle with the “Lonesome Ghosts”.: And the entire production number in “Trick or Treat” flies out the window. Only three “long” cartoons escaped this treatment. For reasons unknown, “Good Scouts”, and the reasonably long “Chef Donald” from 1941, remained intact. And a title that technically never made the formal catalog in a complete edition, but of which several advance prints were struck and sold in a close-out special through Blackhawk Films catalog, “Boat Builders”, was compete in content though leaders were shortened. Even the remaining catalog titles which didn’t receive a trim in substantive content suffered during the Eastman period, by all having their credit sequences shortened to remove animator/director card. Buyer beware.

    An oddity from the Disney catalog was the feature excerpt release, “Dumbo Makes the Big Top”. In the color edition, this is the only title I know which was not printed on either “Technicolor” or Eastman, but Fuji! Results were noticeably different right out of the box. While reds and blues were in a reasonable range (neither as vibrant as Eastman before fading, but blues definitely superior to “Technicolor”), the strength of this stock was in the green range, adding a definite lustre all its own far exceeding the ‘Technicolor” but surpassed by the unfaded original Eastman pallette. What is amazing is that, over time, the Fuji stock has hardly faded at all, and looks just about as good today as I remember it from the early 1970’s. The strange choice to farm this title out to a different lab may have accounted for the fact that, when Disney upgraded practically all of its feature/featurette excepts into sound, this was one of only three animated feature excepts to never receive a sound version.

    One aspect of 8mm collecting will never be quite replaced in this modern age – the excitement we felt as kids at hearing that comforting yet clanky sound of sprocket wheels clicking away in the dark. Them was the good ol’ days.

  • And while we’re on the subject of other distributors of Disney product, let’s not forget JEF Films who released a large number of Disney trailers and cartoons.

  • Ensign also issued lots of 8mm Disneys since 1936

  • To Mats Abelli,
    I think you have a couple of non-Disney titles in your Disney list from Derann, “Clear Pasture” should actually be “Clean Pastures”, a Warner Bros. Merrie Melody cartoon, and “Soup Song” is an Ub Iwerks Flip the Frog cartoon. Do you know if the “Pastoral Symphony” sequences from Fantasia were uncut?
    Thanks for the list, Mark Kausler

  • I believe, with THE SOUP SONG Matts means the extract from the Disney show of the dwarfs drinking their soup and singing the title song.The sequence is in prelininary form and was deleted from the film because it followed the washing sequence immediately. The “Pastoral” ,at 600 feet, is complete.

  • The only episode missing a big chunk is THE RITE OF SPRING,about 5 or so,minutes from the beginning. Also, DUMBO was not issued by Derann. The FANTASIA episodes came from various sources.There are also a number of silents available. The Laugh-O-Grams,THE FOUR MUSICIANS OF BREMEN and PUSS IN BOOTS from Blackhawk. Two Oswalds and several Alices,plus MINNIE’S YOO HOO, from Thunderbird and others, etc etc. And let’s not start looking in Italy or Spain, but that is another story…….

  • MARK KAUSLER. The titles are directly from the Derann Disney listing. I don´t know about the title CLEAR PASTURE, but it seems to be a mistake. I cannot find that Disney have released such film. The Soup Song is the non-released Snow White scene, as P. A. CARAYANNIS wrote.

  • I, too, began with those 8mm films. We paid more than people do now for a DVD and probably got a bigger rush.

    Not complaining. I love DVD and Blu-ray. I laugh t those who complain about the prices.

  • Woolco, only a few years before it shut down, was still selling the last vestiges of their Ken films in 50-foot reels. At the store I was familiar with, they were all Terrytoons and the markup was high because no one was buying them (as opposed to high-traffic items with low markups).

    I collected Disney and Hanna-Barbera Columbia 8mm home movies, with some Castle, Magoo, and Ken Films. We had a wall in our patio that I used as a movie screen and it was glorious. Yes, I did splice three Castle Universal 50-foot films together into one reel to make a “program.”

    It’s funny that Disney assumed anyone would care of Steamboat Willie was in black and white when ordinary people like me only had two color 8mm films (a clip from “Hey There It’s Yogi Bear” and “Alice in Wonderland”). Sound versions were out of the question because the price was astronomical to us.

    I also tried to create my own “Vitaphone” system, not realizing that 8mm ran at 18 frames, so “The Dwarfs’ Dilemma” did not sync with my “Snow White” soundtrack album and I had to keep moving the needle to stay in sync, but who cares? It was a Disney movie clip at home!

    The “Action Viewer” cartridges used 8mm film too, but they cut out every other frame on the prints. I bought a cartridge and took out the film, ran it on the projector, and “The Dapper Dalmatian” ran at super speed. Don’t try this at home.

    A 200-foot reel sold for around seven or eight dollars. I remember my brother saying, “It’s about the same price as an 8-track.”This was the seventies, folks.

    Nowadays seeing a flawless Blu-ray or streaming is almost a form of entitlement today, when a grainy, overexposed Super-8 black-and-white 8mm print of “When Magoo Flew” was, once upon a time, a cherished treasure to be seen over and over again, almost like a miracle.

    I sound like my dad when he talked about whittling three-masted schooners from blocks of wood.

  • Very good article Jim, as usual. I also have a good bunch of them and they might have no value on the market, there is this unbeatable charm and the many hours spent studying them frame by frame and starting to understand the whole mechanism of animation. Christian.

  • I’ve been collecting a lot of these 8mm and Super 8 Disney films over the last year and I’ve found them very interesting. I’ve found a variety of different releases ranging from the standard 8 black and white versions to the Super 8 sound clips. One thing I get a kick out of are the subtitles on certain releases. On a B&W super 8 copy of Bambi Falls in Love there are subtitles throughout the duration of the film and the dialogue is either in a place where it wasn’t originally and when it was it was usually completely different. Curiously a standard 8 copy I have just had a blurb explaining everything after the titles instead. And in my copy of the 50′ ft Super 8 color Dwarfs’ Dilemma when Doc says to Dopey “Get the soap” in the sound version the subtitles instead say “Dopey, behave yourself!” which makes it even funnier when he decides to attack the soap. And another thing, has anyone else seen the strangely cruel clip they used for Dumbo? Not the later release “Dumbo the Flying Elephant” but the early original clip “Dumbo Makes The Big Top” the film includes the opening scene in which the stork delivers Dumbo but then it immediately cuts to the scene when they make Dumbo a clown and the film ends after the clowns drop Dumbo into a pool of cream. It’s a really jarring experience and I’m glad it was eventually replaced with a better clip. But all the same, even though these films may not serve much of a practical purpose, watching one still makes for a good time and I hope to find even more some day

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