Before Video: A History of the Non-Theatrical Film

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview

preneur Raymond Rohauer from Macmillan-Audio-Brandon. Through various questionable methods, Rohauer had obtained "rights" to a variety of films generally considered to be in the public domain, including features of Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks, Harry Langdon, D. W. Griffith, and Mack Sennett. In the late 1980s, Twyman's owner Alan Twyman disposed of his interest in the company and distributed the Raymond Rohauer titles on a personal basis, using the company name "Alan Twyman Presents" until his death in 1990.

One manner in which public domain 16mm rental houses could win an advantage over competitors was by offering the highest quality prints detailed in well-produced, informative catalogs. The company that best illustrates this method is Radim/Film Images, founded in Chicago in the 1970s by a former Brandon Films employee, Art Brown.

Many 16mm rental houses specialized in foreign language and/or quality English-language titles. The best known of this group, all with offices in New York, were Almi Cinema, Corinth Films, New Line Cinema, and New Yorker Films. Independent and avant-garde filmmakers, such as Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, and Stan Vanderbeek, distributed their productions through Canyon Cinema Cooperative in San Francisco and Film-Makers Cooperative in New York. There was some limited highly specialized distribution, with Arthur Cantor, Inc., in New York distributing films on the arts, music, and theatre and Warren Miller in Southern California offering ski movies for rental and sale. Miller cleverly promoted his self-produced films with the suggestion that purchasers splice them into their own amateur efforts, to "fool your friends" and "liven up your home movies."

All of the 16mm rental libraries discussed in this chapter flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, evidence of what appeared to be an ever-growing interest in the non-theatrical film. Within one decade only three--Films Inc., the Museum of Modern Art, and Swank--were still operational. As far as most people with an interest in the non-theatrical film were concerned, they were largely irrelevant.


NOTES
1.
Emily S. Jones, "In the Beginning: Sightlines," Sightlines, vol. XX, no. 2 (Winter 1986/87), p. 4.
2.
Arnold Gingrich, Nothing But the People: The Early Days at Esquire, A Personal History, 1928-1958 ( New York: Crown, 1971), p. 169.
3.
Schools and Society, vol. LXIV, no. 1667 ( December 7, 1946), p. 398.
4.
For more information, see Harriet Lundgaard, "The Case for Polyester Base," Sightlines, vol. XV, no. 4 (Summer 1982), pp. 14-16.
5.
Mark Slade, "Eight Millimeter: The Eighth Lively Art," Educational Screen & Audio-Visual Guide, vol. XXXXI, no. 10 ( July-October 1962), p. 598.

-120-

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Before Video: A History of the Non-Theatrical Film
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of Mass Media and Communications ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xii
  • One Origins 1
  • Notes 16
  • Two Chicago-- the Non-Theatrical Film Capital of the World 19
  • Notes 31
  • Three the Eastman Kodak Connection 33
  • Notes 43
  • Four Specialization 45
  • Five Film in Education and Religion 59
  • Notes 73
  • Six the Chronicles of America 75
  • Notes 87
  • Seven the 1930s and 1940s 89
  • Notes 105
  • Eight Decades of Progress and Prosperity 107
  • Notes 120
  • Nine the Waning Years 123
  • Notes 136
  • Appendix A: Major Non- Theatrical Distributors of the 1920s 137
  • Appendix B: Major Non-Theatrical 16mm Distributors of the 1930s 141
  • Appendix C: Major Non-Theatrical 16mm Distributors of the 1940s 145
  • Appendix D: Useful Non-Theatrical Addresses 151
  • Selected Bibliography 155
  • Index 161
  • About the Author 172
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