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These threads that I create are quite silly and I mostly do them to satisfy myself. There is a little part of me that hopes that others who are rekindled in their memories can come forward and contribute more information. There are still many movies, often short in running time, that I would love to see before my final voyage into the hereafter. Although the three companies I profile here don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, some of their best product has managed to survive under the umbrella company that now encompasses them and some of their contemporaries: https://phoenixlearninggroup.com/ I am also taking a detour from the usual topic of “shorts” to chronicle some of the educational 16mm films and VHS product of a major network, the Columbia Broadcasting System. CBS owned two of these companies for a decade and a half. Bailey Films, Film Associates of California and Phoenix Films were among the many educational film companies that flourished during the Golden Age of 16mm, a format that started tentatively in the 1920s with the pioneering Eastman Kodak Teaching Films and Electrical Research Products Inc. (later taken over by Encyclopædia Britannica) as an economic alternative to 35mm. By World War II, the number of these rivaled the other, more theatrical, kind as the smaller cameras and projectors became firmly established for travelogues, documentaries, school and military how-to reels. The demand for school films in particular escalated in the late 1950s after the Soviets launched Sputnik and the Eisenhower administration started pumping more tax dollars into the public schools in order to keep up, much of it trickling down into visual media. The Golden Age crested for roughly three decades until VHS, cable TV and the internet took over. However, even as late as 1996, companies like these were still providing material for schools, libraries and businesses in both video and motion picture film, primarily because the latter benefited from a much sharper image than its murky flop-in-the-machine counterpart. (Not to mention, actual films often outlast tapes and anything digital, as many of us avid DVD collectors discover when our favorite movies unexpectedly stop playing after several years for no explainable reason.) The oldest of the trio discussed on this thread was Bailey Films, beginning as Bailey Film Services with Al Bailey in charge in 1938. Its headquarters were in sunny Hollywood, first located on Cosmo Street and later De Longpre Ave. The earliest films were released both with soundtracks and without since many schools still had silent projectors at that time; thus, surviving films of this period may have rather limited appeal today. However one prominent contributor, travelogue maker Guy D. Haselton, was making good use of color Kodachrome early on with a scenic series on national parks. By the early fifties, Bailey Films' specialty had become the art subject reel, particularly the step-by-step process covering everything from printmaking to puppets. Noteworthy during this period were Wayne Thiebaud's in-depth studies of museum paintings and sculpture. (Wayne turns 99 this year.) Although the company's artistic side only casually embraced the fine art of animation, Bailey was nonetheless a key backer of a young Ray Harryhausen during those formative stop-motion years before and between Mighty Joe Young and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Headquartered over on Santa Monica Blvd, also in the Los Angeles area, was Film Associates of California. Launched in the spring of 1954 by Irwin Braun and Paul Burnford, the latter was already a documentary veteran working with Paul Rotha and John Grierson in England and, later, MGM's short subject department (Crime Does Not Pay, Pete Smith, etc.) before launching his own independent company distributing through Bailey Films and Encyclopædia Britannica in the beginning. As the key director of most Film Associates' titles during that first decade, great care went into selecting subjects that would appeal to the widest range of ages possible. One typical title, Prehistoric Animals Of The Tar Pits: The Story Of Rancho La Brea, may only be available online currently in its black & white version (although color prints also exist) but it hasn't aged much in its educational value after over six decades. Burnford split from Braun by 1963 but would continue distributing some of his independent productions through Film Associates. Three years later, “FA” (as known by the logo displayed on film) was taken over by CBS, the leading TV network that needed an additional 16mm outlet for its many educational TV shows. (They had already been tapping McGraw-Hill and Young America Films during the previous decade and would continue to do so with the former, along with others like Carousel Films.) CBS also soon took over Bailey Films, minus Al who retired, and merged the two as Bailey-Film Associates or “BFA” by early 1969. For a while, Irwin Braun and his wife remained in charge with limited interference from the corporation in power. Renamed BFA Educational Media in 1971, expansion included a new bigger building in Santa Monica proper and newer contributors in charge of in-house production and product sales. Lloyd Otterman succeeded the Brauns after their departure in 1975 and George Holland headed the company past CBS's sale of it to Phoenix Films. Of the many filmmakers working for BFA, three who started pre-CBS were quite prolific in output. Norman Bean handled a wide range of nature subjects in his A First Film and Backyard Science series with a keen eye on how to maintain an average 6 year old's attention span. While he was certainly not the first to feature close-ups of insects and plant growth, his work was among the most watched in schools during the 1970s especially. Not that many present day 50-70 year olds who were kids back then would recognize his and his then wife Marjorie's names today. Wayne Mitchell started in the 1950s as a travelogue maker and made his last film in 2009 at the age of 83 before officially retiring. He displayed a strong interest in those local customs getting lost with all of the new technology and international mass-culture. At one point, he lamented on the increasing number of snow-mobiles invading Eskimo territory during his own life time. Perhaps the most colorful of the bunch was Bernard Wilets, one of those versatile Pisceans who easily fluctuated between topics totally unrelated to each other. His all-inclusive Discovering Music series is a must-see series; one such title, Discovering American Folk Music, manages to get Irish and Scottish ballads from centuries ago, black gospel, raw blues and late sixties psychedelic rock & roll all covered in a mere 21 minutes! He also handled push-button debates like school bus segregation in The Bill Of Rights In Action: De Facto Segregation which may seem a trifle dated now... or not? Even today, racial differences are no small issue. More importantly, he provided some of the most creative talk-fests to invade the classroom since Frank Baxter educated the royal court of the Planet Q in the classic Bell Science specials. One can't help but chuckle over the very premise of Man And The State: Marx And Rockefeller which transports the ghosts of two polarizing figures in history, Karl Marx and John D. Rockefeller, to a futuristic society resembling Logan's Run so that these folks of the future can have some laughs watching them argue it out. After leaving BFA right around the time of its merge with Phoenix Films, Wilets joined Barr Films (covered here: http://forums.tcm.com/topic/114972-a-shortie-checklist-an-assortment-of-culinary-delights/ ) which reissued his earlier titles with only slight modifications in the opening credits and got him to make more of them, including the very eighties retro Grant And Lee On The Civil War, set on a silly game show called “Risk Your Reputation”. As Geoff Alexander covered in Academic Films for The Classroom (McFarland & Co., 2010), Wilets had a very special arrangement with the Screen Actors' Guild and was able to tap many familiar faces from television and the bigger screens provided he forgo screen credits. This is absolutely maddening to us movie geeks who recognize the faces but can't find any listed names. Granted, I am pretty certain that a 10-year old Jason Bateman is displaying his trademark smirk in The Veldt, one of the quirky Ray Bradbury adaptations he produced but didn't direct, despite the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) not including it in Jason's filmography. Phoenix Films was the third party to become part of this growing family, which became Phoenix-BFA Films & Video in 1981 (later the Phoenix Learning Group) after CBS sold its interests. Launched just eight years earlier by Heinz Gelles (formally of McGraw-Hill) and Barbara Bryant (of Films Incorporated) along with Leo Dratfield, Phoenix Films began mostly as a distribution company. Soon that groovy animated bird in its on-screen logo was accompanying personal in-house productions as well. The 1970s was a very rich decade for experimental film making with many controversial stories being tried out that Hollywood and major TV companies would consider taboo even today, such as a story about a dying woman harassed by hospital staff in The Detour and gender-role questioning in William's Doll. Barbara Bryant herself later contributed to some highly innovative adaptations of children books along with Gary Templeton for a sub-company Evergreen Productions. Phoenix handled a higher number of hour to two hour features than BFA, which tended to keep most of its non-TV product under a half hour in length. Among the major titles were Helen Hayes: Portrait Of An American Actress (Nathan Kroll, 1973), Antonia: A Portrait Of A Woman (Judy Collins & Jill Godmilow, 1974), Rivers Of Sand (Robert Gardner, 1974), The Shadow Catcher (T.C. McLuhan, 1974), Grass Roots: Rural Communes In The U.S.A. (Luciano Martinengo and Thomas Wahlberg, 1975), Earth People (James Rich, 1975), Buenos Dias, Compañeras = Women In Cuba (Aviva Slesin, 1975), The Hollow (George T. Nierenberg, 1975), Potters Of Hebron (Robert Haber, 1976), Paul Robeson: The Tallest Tree In Our Forest (Gil Noble, 1977), Twyla Tharp: Making Television Dance (Don Mischer, 1977), One Of Kind (Harry Winer, 1977), Gatemouth Brown And Gate's Express (Carl Colby, 1977), The Jerusalem Peace (Mark Banjamin, 1977), Zerda's Children (Jorge Prelorán, 1978), Kid Thomas And The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Clifton Chenier (Carl Colby, 1978), In Dark Places: Remembering the Holocaust (Gina Blumenfeld, 1978), Deep Hearts (Robert Gardner, 1979), Martha Clarke: Light & Dark (Joyve Chopra, 1980), With God On Our Side (Alexander von Wetter, 1981) and Children Of The Holocaust (Jack Eisner & Roman Kent, 1983). Most longer productions post-BFA merge tended to be direct-to-video projects, such as How Will I Survive? (Kathleen Kelley Reardon & Johanna Demetrakas, 1993), a study on women coping with breast cancer. Both Phoenix and BFA offered a very international menu to the 16mm market and I could easily double the lists below to include the many, many foreign imports that were often dubbed in English and non-narrative films that required no translations. Yet space restraints here and the fact that they were only Phoenix and BFA in U.S. distribution kept my oversize appetite in check. Among a selection worth mentioning: Han Van Gelder's Adventures In Perception (Netherlands, 1969), Ulrich Schweizer's Katutura (Switzerland, 1971), Kostas Chronopoulos, Simon Louvish & Jorge Tsoucarossa's Greece Of Christian Greeks (Greece, 1972), Charles & Martina Huguenot van der Linden's This Tiny World (Netherlands, 1972), A Pretty Kettle Of Fish (France, 1973), Ronald Bijisma's Brainwash (Netherlands, 1973), Michel Lang's Carole, I Love You (France, 1973), Gilbert Dassonville's Abyss (France, 1973), George Sluizer's The Raft (Netherlands, 1973), George R. Sluizer & Bert van Munster's Letters, Three Days Respite and Zeca (Netherlands, all released in the U.S. in 1974), El Páramo de Cumanday (Colombia, Gabriela Samper & Ray Witlin, 1977), Clay Kelton's Mateo and Unlikely Star (Costa Rica, 1979), Said Manafi's Timghriwin: Mass Marriage Of Berbers (Austria, 1986), Fernand Berenguer's A Double Souffle (France, 1986) and Frédéric Fougea's “Lord Of The Animals” series (France, 1989-1996). The National Film Board of Canada, Film Australia and Gakushū Kenkyūsha with Japan's Gakken Films also provided plenty of material between the 1970s and '90s. In terms of animation, Phoenix again had the edge over BFA in backing several U.S. independents such as John Canemaker. Yet a large portion of the cartoons came from overseas, particularly Czechoslovakia's Bratri v triku which was responsible for Zdeněk Miler's durable pantomime character The Little Mole. Later cartoons offered through Phoenix-BFA Films & Video frequently came from Canadian and British television: Perennial Pictures' Mirthworms (1984), Neil Innes Raggy Dolls (broadcast with Yorkshire Television, 1986-1994) and Marina Productions' Little Miss and Mister Men (French-UK co-productions, 1995-1997). In May 1997, the re-organized Phoenix Learning Group Inc. acquired the bulk of Coronet Film's backlog, which I and others spent a long time updating at Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Coronet_Films so that we don't need to exhaust our pretty little heads here. Other acquisitions included some of Centron's catalog (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centron_Corporation ) and roughly half of the Learning Corporation of America (covered here: http://forums.tcm.com/topic/114972-a-shortie-checklist-an-assortment-of-culinary-delights/ , but I added their animated cartoons below since many online are worth investigating). Today all of the new material for schools is made exclusively online or for DVD, so I am cutting off around the year 2003 here with just a few final entries to such long running series as Backyard Science. I should also add that Phoenix-BFA distributed a series by Aames Teleproductions that covered “how to use” lectures on early Microsoft programs of 1991-1994, which I don't get into below like I do a few other select direct-to-video efforts; teaching about computers in the VHS and film format can be quite challenging but Phoenix-BFA was always up for it. As usual, this alphabetic list is not complete, so feel free to private message me with additions. Apart from the three companies mentioned above, I also included King Screen Productions and Kaw Valley Films. The latter often distributed through Coronet, which Phoenix later acquired, while the former released mostly through BFA, although I include the independently distributed and Oscar winning The Redwoods.
Decided to post a few favorites of the 16mm genre that populated schools from the 1930s through '80s, beginning with a few pairings of titles from Encyclopædia Britannica Films ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica_Films ) Aesop's "live action" version of THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE (© October 7, 1947) Collaborator is Grace E. Storm, with camera work by Lynwood Chase. The success of this title begot a few follow-ups with the same personnel, such as THREE FOX FABLES (1948) and THE FOX AND THE ROOSTER (1951), neither available online yet. However an animated cartoon version of THREE FOX FABLES was released by Britannica in 1984 and directed by Paul Buchbinder.
Hello, I've been searching for this short documentary film for quite a while and was wondering if anyone can help? It was probably about 2 years ago I saw a WB full color short from the 60's on TCM about about a small sailing sea research exhibition from California, around S. America (or maybe through the Panama Canal), featuring a stopover in Jamaica. From what I can recall it was about 10-15 minutes, it featured fantastic full color underwater views of coral and associated wildlife.
… or at least I would like to see… and, even better, see put out on DVD. Figured I should start a new thread for everybody to join in with their requests. Who knows? Maybe somebody in charge of scheduling actually reads this. Maybe…? Here are TEN Warner Brothers shorties (out of 3900+ released theatrically, both animated and “live action”) that TCM should have no issues airing as long as they can find a good print. (I posted a blog on some of these suggestions a couple years ago on the other forum.) Blaze Busters A Warner-Vitaphone Novelty (sepiatone, 9+ minutes) released December 30, 1950 Robert Youngson; narrator: Dwight Weist The history of fire fighting in the United States as seen in old vintage newsreels, colored in sepia to great effect. Leonard Maltin loved this one enough to mention it in his THE GREAT MOVIE SHORTS (1972), published when prints were still in active circulation. The director, Robert Youngson, became famous for reviving the popularity of Laurel & Hardy shortly after one’s passing with THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY (a rare documentary feature that actually made a substantial profit). Earlier he cranked out a steady stream of nostalgic “scrapbook” docu-shorts for Warner Brothers between 1948 and 1956, along with one feature FIFTY YEARS BEFORE YOUR EYES. Among these were two Oscar winners and four nominees… mostly ignored during TCM’s 21 Days Of February. Nonetheless, I think five of them get shown in rotation on TCM: MAGIC MOVIE MOMENTS, SOME OF THE GREATEST, GADGETS GALORE, WHEN THE TALKIES WERE YOUNG and I NEVER FORGET A FACE. Yet another (curiously not aired) is available on DVD as an “extra” with IT’S A GREAT FEELING (on the TCM Doris Day Collection set). This is the brilliant SPILLS AND CHILLS that showcases dare devil stunts from the 1910s through ‘30s. (I have seen the Doris Day feature once and this “extra” about 30 times.) Apparently most, if not all, of Youngson's shorts were released on VHS in the 1980s through Video Yesteryear, but good luck in finding any of those on ebay. Wild Wings A Pepper Pot (bw, 11+ minutes) released January 24, 1936 Donald R. Dickey; narrator: Gayne Whitman Edited in mid 1935, this vintage "Pepper Pot" highlights rare feathered residents in Layson Island, Hawaii. It was made during a boom period in wildlife documentaries, thanks to the Oscar-winning success of British import THE PRIVATE LIFE OF GANNETS and the Horace & Stacy Woodard's "Battle for Life" and "Struggle to Live" series released by Educational-Fox and Van Beuran-RKO. UCLA has copies of this one; prints were also quite popular as school insructionals in the forties and fifties. Alpine Glory A Warnercolor Scope Gem (CinemaScope, 9+ minutes) released August 3, 1957 Cedric Francis (producer)- André De La Varre; script: Owen Crump; music: Howard Jackson; narrator: Marvin Miller Any widescreen travelogue (and WB produced quite a few starting in 1954) would be well-worth dusting off in this era of bigger screen home-viewing, especially one by Andre de la Varré. I picked this one since it features the some of the same Austrian terrain covered in THE SOUND OF MUSIC and am a bit curious how it compares with Robert Wise. Also it features, as narrator, the Mighty Marvin Miller of radio and UPA cartoon fame. Thunder Beach A Warnercolor Scope Gem (CinemaScope, 9+m) released June 23, 1956 Cedric Francis (producer)- Jack Glenn; narrator: Joe King Another of a series of "Scope Gems" Warner produced. Unlike the others, this one is not a travelogue... but a visit to Daytona, Florida. Credited to Jack Glenn and narrated by Joe King, I'm quite curious to see if any cameras were destroyed in this effort to bring drag-racing to the anamorphic screen. Berlin Today E.M. Newman Traveltalk (bw, 9+ minutes) released August 31, 1932 Malayan Jungles E.M. Newman Colortour (Cinecolor, 9+m) released February 5, 1938 Edited by Ira Genet; narrator: Howard Claney It is fair to say that the E.M. Newman travelogues edited at Warner’s Vitaphone facilities in Brooklyn were not quite in the same league as MGM’s glossy Technicolor offerings with Jimmy FitzPatrick, since these were exclusively in black and white until 1936 before switching to cheap Cinecolor. Yet the few titles shown on TCM (LITTLE JOURNEYS TO GREAT MASTERS, HIGH SPOTS OF THE FAR EAST and a few of the “See America First” entries) are still highly entertaining and educational. The entry on Germany shot just before Hitler took over should have considerable historical interest. Ever the animal lover, Newman makes sure that not just the human residents are profiled. We get to see German Shepherds learn police work with their masters. Among the “Colortours” is a jungle adventure featuring cute critters like the Malayan Chevrotain (Bambi in miniature) and some native sports in action. King of the Everglades A Technicolor Sports Parade (9+ minutes) released September 14, 1946 André De La Varre & Ross Allen; music: Rex Dunn Good ol’ Ross Allen… you know I just can’t ignore him here. TCM features him in one of FitzPatrick’s more (unintentionally) humorous MGM Traveltalks, GLIMPSES OF FLORIDA (1941), in which he milks the rattlers and wrestles his pet gator. (You know… the one usually shown before or after WHERE THE BOYS ARE?) Yet several studios covered either his Reptile Institute or his wilderness bobcat ropings in Coral Springs and the Everglades. Three Paramount “Grantland Rice Sportlights” (sometimes with Ted Husing narrating) were released previously: one also titled KING OF THE EVERGLADES (but released in glorious black & white in 1935), CATCHING TROUBLE (1936, spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000) and A FASCINATING ADVENTURE (1938). André De La Varre made many trips to Florida to keep Warner Brothers well-stocked with Technicolor Spanish moss and palm trees on screen; it was inevitable that he would profile the state’s most popular tourist attraction before Mickey transformed Orlando into a Magic Kingdom. Follow-up to this first WB effort in 1946 was DANGER IS MY BUSINESS (shot in the Everglades, 1950) and a 45 minute featurette with Ross “acting” in DEEP ADVENTURE (1957). All three are worth dusting off just in case TCM decides to salute Birthday Boy on any particular January 2nd. Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd in Sweden A Technicolor Special (20 minutes) released September 27, 1950 Larry Lansburgh, with Edgar Bergen & company Robert Osborne claimed in one TV spot that this one gets shown from time to time and I believe him. Just not in… what?... ten years? It is possible that all of the earlier Edgar Bergen Vitaphone shorties (filmed from December 1929 through May 1937, with Mortimer only in the last one A NECKIN’ PARTY) have aired over the decades, with a few (but not all) making the DVD cut. This color travelogue / comedy was directed by Larry Lansburgh who alternated back and forth between Warner Brothers and their Burbank rival Walt Disney... providing Oscar nominees and winners in the shortie categories for both. (TCM often shows DESERT KILLER and BEAUTY AND THE BULL.) Another memorable color shortie with Bergen & company used to air on AMC long before MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD. This is a Jerry Fairbanks produced short for Paramount called UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS L8-2 (October 7, 1938 release). Sometime TCM should hook up with Shields Pictures (http://www.shieldspictures.com/index.html ) and start airing some of these, along with “Popular Science” and “Speaking of Animals”. Heck, TCM should get Paramount to dust off their shorties vaults as well. Maybe even Ross Allen can also be saved from vault deterioration. Jungle Terror A Technicolor Special (20 minutes) released November 5, 1949 (reissued to theaters in September 1959) Gordon Hollingshead (producer)- Hassoldt Davis; script & co-director: Owen Crump; music: William Lava; narration: Martin Gabel Filmed mostly in 1947, the reviews in BoxOffice and other periodicals suggest this is a successor to the Depression era adventures of Martin and Osa Johnson, Frank Buck & company and, sort of, a fore-runner to MONDO CANE. Furry and scaly residents of the rain forest are profiled, along with "wild natives" living where "no white man has visited"… also a stop at Devil’s Island, where PAPILLON with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman was set. Hassoldt Davis was a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and loved traipsing through "untouched" jungles and mountains in search of excitement and danger... a bit like KING KONG's Merian C. Cooper, but with a slightly more veracious thrills 'n' chills appetite. One of his books, THE JUNGLE AND THE DAMNED, covers this adventure into French Guiana with Boni guides and meeting a tribe that practices painful "wasp torture". Egad! His second wife, Ruth Staudinger, was the lady-behind-the-camera and, allegedly, she wasn't too happy with the way WB marketed this documentary as a "shockomentary". Later on, she divorced her husband on account of his hardly subtle lifestyle. Not only did he love the usual heavy drinking, but also liked questionable cuisine (i.e. he may have been a little too curious about cannibalism… not that we are certain if he actually tried it in his travels) and tempted "Papa Death" a few too many times for comfort. The Smithsonian Institute reportedly has copies on video cassette as well as much unused footage. UCLA has a nitrate Technicolor print, but theirs is listed as damaged in the second reel. Maybe the wasps got to it? Somebody may need to do some digital "wizardry" here, but I'm betting that there's more than one copy floating around. Perils of the Jungle A Broadway Brevity (bw, 21 minutes) released October 3, 1941 Gordon Hollingshead (producer)- Attilio Gatti; script: Herald Medford; music: William Lava; narrator: Knox Manning Another jungle tale that may (or may not) have been aired on TCM in the past but was eventually forgotten… this "Broadway Brevity" covers a Frank Buck-ish search for the elusive Okapi in the Belgian Congo. Atillo Gatti is the explorer profiled here, out to bring this rare cousin of the giraffe "back alive". The first in a US zoo, Bronx in New York, arrived in August 1937, less than a year after the first giant panda imported from China. Unfortunately "okapi-mania" didn't catch fire as "panda-mania" (a.k.a. swimwear and Walter Lantz cartoons). Gatti boasted a camping bus that provided many comforts of home in the jungles. Like Martin and Osa Johnson’s delightful BABOONA, made a few years earlier, we also get to visit the “happy” pygmies. ***** Five more that CAN be found online (youtube and elsewhere) if you google the titles. (Difficult to upload here.) TCM really hasn’t shown them though… and I bet they would have gorgeous prints to use. Keystone Hotel (murky print) (Big V Comedy, Ralph Staub; 1935) Task Force (murky print) (Technicolor Special, 1943) Beachhead To Berlin (a really nice print floating about) (Technicolor Special, Charles Tedford, 1944) Continental Holiday (Technicolor Special, André De La Varre, April 9, 1954 release, but sometimes dated online 1952) The John Glenn Story (Featurette, William L. Hendricks, 1962)