Castle Films was a home-movie distributor founded in California by former newsreel cameraman Eugene W. Castle (1897–1960) in 1924. The company originally produced business and advertising films. By 1931 it had moved its principal office to New York City. In 1937, Castle branched out into 8 mm and 16 mm home movies, buying newsreel footage and old theatrical films for home use. Castle's first home movie was a newsreel of the Hindenburg explosion. That same year, Castle launched his "News Parade" series, a year-in-review newsreel; travelogues followed in 1938. Castle also released sports films, animal adventures, and "old time" movies.
Castle Films also distributed many children's Christmas shorts, some of which have been recently released on cheaply priced DVDs.
The films were sold at camera shops, in department stores, and by mail order catalog.
Castle obtained home-movie rights to cartoons from several animation studios, including Terrytoons (1938), Ub Iwerks (1941), and Walter Lantz (1947). During World War II it produced numerous documentary and training films for the U.S. armed services.
In 1947, United World Films, Inc., the non-theatrical division of Universal Pictures, purchased a majority stake in Castle Films. Castle subsequently became a Universal subsidiary, drawing upon the studio's library of vintage films (with Abbott and Costello, W. C. Fields, Boris Karloff, James Stewart, etc.). Castle Films changed its name to Universal 8 in 1977, but the era of home video brought an end to Universal's home-movie enterprise in 1984.
The complete inventory of Castle Films (more than 1,000 titles over 40 years) is listed in Scott MacGillivray's book Castle Films: A Hobbyist's Guide, ISBN 0-595-32491-6.
The largest U.S. competitor of Castle Films was Official Films. For the most complete list of their titles known to exist, see the "See also" section below.
- Thomas M. Pryor, "Newsreels for the Home", The New York Times, July 4, 1937, p. 100
- Theodore Strauss, "Of One Man's Castle", The New York Times, April 4, 1943, p. X3.
- "United World, Inc., Buys Castle Films", The New York Times, January 2, 1947, p. 22. Eugene Castle became vice president of United World, but resigned in 1949. "Business Notes", The New York Times, December 13, 1949, p. 55.
- The News Parade of the Year 1942
- Author Mark Evanier's in-depth history of Castle Films, plus cover gallery
- A partial catalog of Ken Films
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