This past week at work I was talking to one of my colleagues about film and entertainment in general. I mentioned that when we were young, my father, an avid photographer, left me a legacy of old photographs and camera equipment, the latter all obsolete. Amongst that pile was an old Eumig Wein Type P8 projector, as well as two 8mm “shorts” which we always watched avidly. One was “Mighty Mouse” and the other “Hopalong Cassidy, Three on a Trail”.
It got me thinking. Was it possible to see these two again? had they ever been converted to a digital format? I did some digging and the internet came through once again. The show was part of a series of cartoona that were produced and sold by Castle Films and it appears to have originated somewhere between 1949 and 1951.
There is even a colourised version as well as a 16mm version. But in my case it is the 8mm version that I recall. Incidentally, “The Wreck of the Hesperus” is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When I was watching the show on Youtube I could actually recall how the story goes and it was so very familiar to me. However, it was weak.
The second show that we owned was “Hopalong Cassidy, Three on a Trail”, starring William Boyd as the cowboy with the big hat. It is the typical western show, with gunfights, school ma`ams and stage coaches. It is weaker.
It too is available on Youtube although there are a number of iterations of the show because it really existed as a full blown movie.
I also recall one evening we had friends or family over and they brought along two horror movies. One of which was “The Mummy’s Tomb” and the other a Dracula short. Ye gads I was terrified. Unfortunately I do not know enough about these two particular shows, but they too existed in the Castle Film’s catalogue.
I was seriously shook up by those two, and have never slept with a window open since then because everybody knows that Dracula cannot break a window.
Looking back these shows were the closest that we had to visual entertainment at home before the advent of video machines (bear in mind that South Africa only got television in the mid 70’s). In latter years you could go out and hire a 16mm projector and a full length feature at your local film hire emporium, but the problem with that was portability. The video machine just made things so much easier and sadly the 8mm shorts became redundant, along with the early movies made by our families in 8mm format.
I will not say that the 8mm movie was an ideal format, it did suffer the limitation of having no sound, but it was relatively portable and there were commercial shorts like the two I have covered, and there were a lot of “documentaries” available too, and I do vaguely recall one all about Africa. If ever I get back to South Africa I will explore that one a bit more.
I did do a blogpost about 8mm Memories a number of years ago but I wish I had done more to add to it because it is quite a large and fascinating subject from a retrospective point of view. If I do live long enough I may have to do a post about video machines, but that is another story altogether.
DRW © 2022. Created 03/07/2022. Castle Films, Mighty Mouse, Hopalong Cassidy, the Mummys Tomb and Dracula are all copyright to their copyright holders. All images sourced from the internet.