Official Films

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1948 Official Films.jpg

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.[1][2] 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.[3]

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 Group[4] and the Peter Rodgers Organization.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Slide, Anthony (11 June 1998). The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry. Scarecrow Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8108-6636-2.
  2. ^ JeiceTheWarrior (2010-06-09), Classic 1950s Closing logo for "Official Films Inc." (1950s Syndication company), retrieved 2018-04-26
  3. ^ Multicom Catalogue (2017). http://www.multicom.tv/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Multicom-2017-Catalog_Full_FINALPRINT.pdf: MULTICOM. 2017. pp. Official Films TV Series (pages 48-53).CS1 maint: location (link)
  4. ^ US Copyright Office Archived 2008-01-05 at the Wayback Machine Document No V9916D574 2014-03-27