Newsreels and World War II
Another aspect of the project I am working is how newsreels were used to information the public. These short films usually were not longer than ten minutes. They appeared before the main future or other films at movie theaters across the nation. But there was at least one that was for the home. Castle Films purchased old films and newsreels and edited them for purchase by ordinary Americans to show in their homes or for smaller audiences (such as clubs, workshops, etc.).
I have several Castle Films tucked away in a closet. My grandfather, who owned an appliance store and repair shop, rented them out to people who wanted to know what was happening in the world or just watch an old movie. One of these days I’ll see which ones we have. I know there’s a few newsreels and cartoons—some of which were added to Castle Films library in 1947. My grandfather’s place was one of the first places in town to rent out these types of newsreels and other older Hollywood films that were past their theater-use-by-date.
Some of the more famous films include the Hindenburg disaster.
The founder of the company was former newsreel cameraman Eugene W. Castle. The films could be purchased at camera shops, department stores or through mail-order. The films were also advertised nationally so they’re not as rare as one might think.
The other big at-home film company was Official Films. Their library consisted of education films but they were eventually have a library of B-movies and an assortment of cartoons, including a knock-off of Tom and Jerry. Official films also license some material hoping to get content for the growing TV market.
Most of the Castle Films and Official Films library can be found on YouTube.
Here’s a newsreel for the home about Pearl Harbor.