Official Films, Incorporated (Inc.) was a home movie[clarification needed] distributor founded by Leslie Winik in 1939 to produce educational shorts. Soon, after buying the Keystone Chaplin library, the company found itself in the home movie business. It obtained several dozen Van Beuren cartoons.
Official 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 also offered a number of sports films, newsreels, and specialities 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.
Official Films was primarily a theatrical producer and distributor of several pictures in the 1930s and 1940s, including Monsieur Vincent, Free Wheeling, She's Oil Mine, Shep Fields and His New Music (with Ken Curtis), Dance of Shame, Groom and Bored, Phoney Cronies, Chiquita Banana, A Bundle of Bliss, Fats Waller, Boogie Woogie Dream, Paderewski Concert, Harlem Jump and Glove Slingers; with later titles including Fall of Poland, La Guardia, Stacked Deck, The Magnificent Bride, and The Show Place.
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. Official also purchased the backlog of the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America, releasing numerous short musicals; both singly and in compilation reels.
In the late 1940s, the company licensed a number of short subjects from Columbia Pictures; including Krazy Kat and Scrappy cartoons, Community Sing musicals, and comedy shorts starring Buster Keaton, Charley Chase, and others. The Columbia shorts were available through the 1950s, along with some comedy shorts originally released by E. W. Hammons' Educational Pictures.
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.
In the 1950s, 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 Kid Comedies". 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 and the Peter Rodgers Organization.
- Slide, Anthony (11 June 1998). The New Historical Dictionary of the American Film Industry. Scarecrow Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-8108-6636-2.
- JeiceTheWarrior (2010-06-09), Classic 1950s Closing logo for "Official Films Inc." (1950s Syndication company), retrieved 2018-04-26
- "Official Films - IMDbPro". pro.imdb.com. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- "Official Films". BFI. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
- 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)
- US Copyright Office Document No V9916D574 2014-03-27
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