Official Films, Incorporated (Inc.) was founded by Leslie Winik in 1939 to produce educational shorts. Soon, after buying some negatives of Public Domain Keystone Chaplin films, the company found itself in the 16mm/8mm home movie business.It obtained several dozen cartoons from Ub Iwerks and Van Beuren.
Six Flip the Frog cartoons were released from the Iwerks studios (Castle Films would later license the Iwerks ComiColor films). These kept the original series and film titles. Official Films retitled the Van Beuren cartoons and changed the name of Cubby Bear to "Brownie Bear". The human Tom and Jerry characters were renamed "Dick and Larry" to avoid confusion with MGM's cat and mouse characters Tom and Jerry.
In addition to cartoons, Official offered sports films, newsreels, and specialties including a souvenir film of the 1939 New York World's Fair (which remained available until around 1980) and "The Broadway Handicap", a home-movie-board-game combination with a horse-racing theme.
During the 1940s, Robert R. Young's Pathe Industries acquired Official; through which it obtained home movie rights to the Young-owned Producers Releasing Corporation's westerns and B-pictures, Community Sing musicals. Official also purchased the backlog of the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America, releasing numerous short musicals; both singly and in compilation reels.
A few Christie Comedies were licensed in 1940 with Bert Lahr, Ethel Waters, Willie Howard and Imogene Coca. In 1945 Official sold some comedy shorts originally released by E. W. Hammons's Educational Pictures. In 1949, the company licensed a number of short subjects from Columbia Pictures; starting with comedies featuring El Brendel in Phoney Cronies, Johnny Arthur and Tom Kennedy in Halfway to Hollywood, and Johnny Downs in Groom and Bored. In 1950 Official added Columbia cartoons with Krazy Kat and Scrappy, and comedy shorts starring Buster Keaton in She's Oil Mine and Charley Chase in The Wrong Miss Wright.
Also in 1950, Official licensed Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies for home movie release; due to trademark conflicts involving the names "Our Gang" and "The Little Rascals", Official renamed the series "Hal Roach's Famous Kids Comedies".
Official became an early syndicator of theatrical cartoons for television, during the late 1950s and early 1960s. It also syndicated live-action television series such as Peter Gunn , Yancy Derringer , The Adventures of Robin Hood , Decoy, H.G. Wells: The Invisible Man , Mr. Lucky , The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, Four Star Playhouse, The Buccaneers, Colonel March of Scotland Yard, The Stu Erwin Show , My Little Margie , Deadline, and the original Biography during this period.
Concentrating on TV syndication, Official's home movie operations diminished in the 1950s and 1960s; many older items were discontinued and few if any new titles were added, except for a Super 8mm documentary on Marilyn Monroe edited from "Biography." By the late 1960s, Official's TV syndication business had also dwindled, with an aging backlog of black-and-white shows and almost no new series to offer; and the company became increasingly inactive.
From 1969 to 1971, the company was known as Official Industries. In the 1980s, Official Films was acquired by International Creative Exchange. In 1994, A&E acquired the original Biography series from ICE; A&E Networks also acquired Battle Line from ICE in 1999. The Official Films library is currently controlled by Multicom Entertainment Groupand the Peter Rodgers Organization.
Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity that exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy. Slapstick may involve both intentional violence and violence by mishap, often resulting from inept use of props such as saws and ladders.
Ubbe Eert "Ub" Iwerks was an American animator, cartoonist, character designer, inventor, and special effects technician, who designed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Iwerks produced alongside Walt Disney and won numerous awards, including multiple Academy Awards.
The Alice Comedies are a series of Animated/live-action shorts created by Walt Disney in the 1920s, in which a live action little girl named Alice and an animated cat named Julius have adventures in an animated landscape.
The golden age of American animation was a period in the history of U.S. animation that began with the popularization of sound cartoons in 1928 and gradually ended throughout the late 1950s to late 1960s, where theatrical animated shorts began losing popularity to the newer medium of television animation, produced on cheaper budgets and in a more limited animation style by companies such as Hanna-Barbera, UPA, Jay Ward Productions, and DePatie-Freleng.
Fleischer Studios was an American corporation that originated as an animation studio located at 1600 Broadway, New York City, New York. It was founded in 1921 as Inkwell Studios, Inc. and Out of the Inkwell Films by brothers Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer who ran the pioneering company from its inception until Paramount Pictures, the studio's parent company and the distributor of its films, acquired ownership. In its prime, Fleischer Studios was a premier producer of animated cartoons for theaters, with Walt Disney Productions becoming its chief competitor in the 1930s.
Felix the Cat is a funny-animal cartoon character created in 1919 by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer during the silent film era. An anthropomorphic black cat with white eyes, a black body, and a giant grin, he is one of the most recognized cartoon characters in film history. Felix was the first animated character to attain a level of popularity sufficient to draw movie audiences.
A short film is any motion picture that is short enough in running time not to be considered a feature film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits". In the United States, short films were generally termed short subjects from the 1920s into the 1970s when confined to two 35mm reels or less, and featurettes for a film of three or four reels. "Short" was an abbreviation for either term.
Famous Studios was the first animation division of the film studio Paramount Pictures from 1942 to 1967. Famous was founded as a successor company to Fleischer Studios, after Paramount seized control of the aforementioned studio and ousted its founders, Max and Dave Fleischer, in 1941. The studio's productions included three series started by the Fleischers—Popeye the Sailor, Superman, and Screen Songs—as well as Little Audrey, Little Lulu, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Honey Halfwitch, Herman and Katnip, Baby Huey, and the anthology Noveltoons series.
Van Beuren Studios was a New York City-based animation studio that produced theatrical cartoons as well as live action short-subjects from the 1920s to 1936.
The following is a complete list of the 220 Our Gang short films produced by Hal Roach Studios and/or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer between 1922 and 1944, in order of release.
U.M. & M. TV Corporation was an American media company best known as the original purchaser of the pre-October 1950 short films and cartoons produced by Paramount Pictures, excluding Popeye and Superman. The initials stand for United Film Service, MTA TV of New Orleans, and Minot T.V.
Our Gang is an American series of comedy short films chronicling a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures. The films were created by studio executive Hal Roach, who was best known as the man behind the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. The series was produced in various formats from 1922 to 1944 and is noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way. Roach and original director Robert F. McGowan worked to film the unaffected, raw nuances apparent in regular children rather than have them imitate adult acting styles. The series broke new ground by portraying white and black children interacting as equals.
Associated Artists Productions, Inc. (a.a.p.) was a distributor of theatrical feature films and short subjects for television. Through acquisitions, Associated Artists Productions' assets were purchased by United Artists, with its library eventually passing to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1981, following its purchase of United Artists and then Turner Entertainment Co., following its purchase of the pre-1986 assets of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and select United Artists assets. Turner Entertainment is now part of WarnerMedia. Though a short lived company, Associated Artists Productions lived a legacy of being best known as the copyright owner of the Popeye, and the color pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of shorts by Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. respectively, as their logos and trademarks were present at the beginning of each short's 16mm Eastmancolor prints syndicated for television in the 1960s.
Screen Gems, Inc. is an American film production and distribution studio that is a division of Sony Pictures's Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, a subsidiary of Japanese multinational conglomerate, Sony. It has served several different purposes for its parent companies over the decades since its incorporation. The label currently specializes in genre films, mainly horror.
Farmer Al Falfa, the quintessential grizzly old farmer type, is an animated cartoon character created by American cartoonist Paul Terry. He first appeared in Down On the Phoney Farm (1915), a short Terry cartoon distributed by the Thanhouser Company. Next came a series of shorts produced by Terry for Bray Studios, starting with Farmer Al Falfa's Cat-Tastrophe (1916).
National Telefilm Associates was an audio-visual marketing company primarily concerned with the syndication of American film libraries to television, including the Republic Pictures film library. It was successful enough on cable television between 1983 and 1985, that it renamed itself Republic Pictures and undertook film production and home video sales as well.
Castle Films was a film distributor founded in California by former newsreel cameraman Eugene W. Castle (1897–1960) in 1924. The company pioneered the production and distribution of films for home projection. It became a subsidiary of Universal Pictures and was eventually renamed Universal 8 from 1977 before folding in the early 1980s due to competition from home video.
Commonwealth Pictures was a motion picture company that primarily dealt with reissues of old features and shorts.
The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio was the in-house division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film studio in Hollywood during the Golden Age of American animation. The studio was responsible for producing animated shorts to accompany MGM feature films in Loew's Theaters. Active from 1937 until 1958, the cartoon studio created some popular cartoon characters, including Tom and Jerry, Droopy and Barney Bear.
Blackhawk Films, from the 1950s through the early 1980s, marketed motion pictures on 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 film. Most were vintage one- or two-reel short subjects, usually comedies starring Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and other famous comedy series of the past. Blackhawk also offered newsreels, documentaries, and silent feature films. With the rise of the video market in the early 1980s, Blackhawk began producing video versions of many of their titles in 1981 and within a few years no longer manufactured film copies. The company was later purchased by NTA, and the film elements still later by archivist David Shepard.
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