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…
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.
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.
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!