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Author Topic: Collectors Club
Maurice Leakey
Film God

Posts: 2478
From: Bristol. United Kingdom
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted January 24, 2008 04:00 AM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In a recent topic Lee was reminding us about the Collectors Club who issued standard 8, super 8, and later sound films.

I would like to ask Lee about the Club. Did it have a membership like a Book Club with a minimum number of films to buy within a certain period? Did a purchaser have to have the Club's choice or could he select other films? How long did the club continue? How did prices compare with other firms' releases of the time?

The boxes give no information about the Club with the same front to all releases. (Mine, anyway.)

I have a nice 200' in super 8 sound of W.C. Fields' THE DENTIST. The quality is good with very crisp sound, something necessary with the star's drawl.

Best wishes. Maurice

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Maurice

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Jonathan Sanders
Film Handler

Posts: 81
From: Bath, England
Registered: Oct 2005


 - posted January 24, 2008 08:17 AM      Profile for Jonathan Sanders   Email Jonathan Sanders   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Although this question was addressed to Lee, I hope nobody will mind if I also answer, as I was a member of Collectors Club from 1971 until its (gradual) demise. I also still have almost every newsletter they issued from June 1974 (no.1) to November 1979 (no.69)! It may have continued beyond that but I started university that autumn and perhaps lost interest.

When I joined (through an advert in Exchange & Mart offering an initial film for less than £1) there was no general newsletter, simply a monthly offering of a one-reel silent comedy as the Film of the Month and a two-reel silent comedy as the Alternative Choice. If you did nothing, you got the one-reeler automatically, but you had to post off a slip if you wanted the two-reeler, or both, or neither! Occasionally, there were feature films like THE GENERAL, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, THE GOLD RUSH and METROPOLIS, all helpfully available on a "reel-a-month" basis (you were sent one reel each month automatically) if you couldn't afford them in one go. There were also a few non-comedy silent shorts available. Occasional lists of previous releases were issued. I don't recall having to buy a minimum number of films.

Prices were generally about 50% of the most expensive companies (e.g. Walton). In 1974 the films were about £2 per reel (silent) with Super 8 a bit more expensive than Standard 8. Most films were available in both formats.

When the newsletter was introduced (or perhaps shortly after this), they abandoned the "Film of the Month" procedure and you simply listed the films you wanted - they would even supply up to three reels on credit!

In July/August 1976, Collectors Club issued their first sound films, TRAILS OF TERROR (horror trailers, price £4.99) and Buster Keaton in THE CHEMIST (price £9.95). The sound catalogue gradually expanded and they also sold releases from other companies (including Walton) at a discount. So the "Club" idea gradually disappeared and they even opened a shop at 389 Kilburn High Road, NW6, though as I lived in Lancashire I never visited there.

Most of the films I bought as a teenager came from Collectors Club. They kept prices low by releasing everything in plain boxes - and perhaps by cutting corners a bit on print quality, but some of their releases were remarkably good - a nice print of Keaton's silent feature SEVEN CHANCES, for example, which I don't think was issued elsewhere.

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Joe Caruso
Film God

Posts: 2579
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted January 24, 2008 08:21 AM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Would you might know of a WALTON 200' S8Sound release "Beauty And The Bath"? - This was a caut from some Abbott & Costello feature I think - Long have I been looking for this to complete my series on the team - Cheers, Shorty

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Jonathan Sanders
Film Handler

Posts: 81
From: Bath, England
Registered: Oct 2005


 - posted January 24, 2008 08:28 AM      Profile for Jonathan Sanders   Email Jonathan Sanders   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Joe, did you see the new posts (one from myself) to the thread you started in the Trade section about BEAUTY AT THE BATH? Unless you know for sure it was a 200ft release, it looks like it may have been only a 50ft silent newsreel that Walton issued.

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Joe Caruso
Film God

Posts: 2579
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted January 24, 2008 06:27 PM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes Jonathan, that was the one, possibly issued in sound, now where to locate a print in box, that is the question - Help? - Cheers from Shorty

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Paul Spinks
Master Film Handler

Posts: 402
From: Barking, Essex, UK
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted January 24, 2008 11:32 PM      Profile for Paul Spinks   Email Paul Spinks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used to shop at the Kilburn High Road store as I used to live quite close to it. It was a very friendly store and I bought a few of their super 8 sound releases. I visited their premises in the City somewhere in the Islington area if I remember correctly where I was showed how they slit the films double printed on 16mm film into 8mm prints. Next to Perry's Movies they were the friendliest "Home Cinema" producers. They released "The Vampire Bat" on 3x400ft reels, "White Zombie" and "The Most Dangerous Game" and "Dark Eyes of London" on 4x400ft reels and an excellent and underated Alec Guinness comedy "The Card" all of which I have purchased. I found their print quality to be very good (much better than some of the muddy prints that Mountain Films and even Derann were releasing at the time). Their release of the "All Star Bond Rally" is memorable for Bela Lugosi menacing Betty Boop. "Betty Boop, you have booped your last doop!"
Excellent stuff.
Paul.

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Lee Mannering
Film God

Posts: 2381
From: The Projection Box
Registered: Nov 2006


 - posted January 25, 2008 01:32 AM      Profile for Lee Mannering     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Some of the things I liked best about Collectors Club were that they offered affordable vintage titles, and later when the sound prints came in you could build your own library for a very modest sum which suited my very small pocket at that time.

Subject matter varied from documentaries about museums to classics of the silent screen, and it was probably CC who were responsible for my interest in Bela Lugosi as fans were well catered for here.

I signed up via an advert in the paper and your first
Prints were variable, but at the price they were excellent value for money I would say. As I mentioned previously, all my Collectors Club prints still run perfectly and I would not part with a single reel of pure nostalgia for me.

Prices were kept low by using yellow or later blue boxes and just printing the films title on the white flap at the front. These were printed by hand and with a simple rubber stamp, and all this simple packaging helped to keep the price low. Spools were quite brittle, clear and you may find a film where the reel has cracked.

Monthly advertising was always sent to members promptly, simply printed and with clear information. I retained much of these over the years and they still make good reading even today.

Happy days they were….

[ March 30, 2012, 08:37 AM: Message edited by: Lee Mannering ]

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Elmo GS1200 Xenon 'The Northern Light'

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Jonathan Sanders
Film Handler

Posts: 81
From: Bath, England
Registered: Oct 2005


 - posted January 25, 2008 01:43 AM      Profile for Jonathan Sanders   Email Jonathan Sanders   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul, I think the Lugosi/Betty Boop encounter was in a HOLLYWOOD ON PARADE short from around 1933. I used to have CC's release of ALL STAR BOND RALLY which was of course a wartime short, with Bob Hope et al.

I have a Collectors Club short called DOWN MEMORY LANE which I think was another of those HOLLYWOOD ON PARADE shorts. Artists appearing include Wheeler & Woolsey, Ed Wynn, and even the boxers Jack Dempsey & Max Baer.

If anyone else has this, can you identify the very camp guy at the end who talks of his "lavender" autograph book? I think it may be the risque nightclub comedian Ray Bourbon, whose surviving film appearances are very rare. Amazingly, Robert Mitchum began his showbiz career by writing material for him!

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Lee Mannering
Film God

Posts: 2381
From: The Projection Box
Registered: Nov 2006


 - posted January 25, 2008 05:49 AM      Profile for Lee Mannering     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yup !
Quite a few Hollywood on Parade's from CC.

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Elmo GS1200 Xenon 'The Northern Light'

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Mal Brake
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 558
From: Neath, South Wales, UK
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted January 25, 2008 06:23 AM      Profile for Mal Brake   Email Mal Brake   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I also joined CC in the early 70's.
'White Zombie' was supplied on 8 x 200ft spools ans I had a few problems because the sound was way out of sync on two parts and part 4 carried the sound track for part 6. (also had Stepping On the Gas)
Happy days
Mal

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I'm gonna live forever or die trying

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Michael O'Regan
Film God

Posts: 2911
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted January 25, 2008 07:07 AM      Profile for Michael O'Regan   Email Michael O'Regan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This thread brings back memories from my teenage years... packs of film catalogs arriving on my doorstep.

Anyone remember Mailmaster films. Or Erne Films, based in Northern Ireland?

Happy days indeed!

-Mike

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Colin Robert Hunt
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 226
From: Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire
Registered: Aug 2005


 - posted January 25, 2008 07:27 AM      Profile for Colin Robert Hunt   Author's Homepage   Email Colin Robert Hunt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Must back up all that's said about Collecters club. Did visit the shop a few times and still find there sound prints very well recorded. Still have there Sherlock Holmes trailer reel and the Bette Davis trailor reel. Nice fun way of collecting film in a much more simpler world.

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Paul Spinks
Master Film Handler

Posts: 402
From: Barking, Essex, UK
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted January 25, 2008 08:58 PM      Profile for Paul Spinks   Email Paul Spinks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You're quite right Jonathan it wasn't the "All Star Bond Rally" with Lugosi. As my hair gets greyer my memory gets a bit "greyer" too. [Smile]

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Robert Crewdson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 650
From: Wessex, UK.
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted June 24, 2013 12:53 PM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I joined Collectors Club in 1973: I used to buy Exchange and Mart in the 60s while still at school and read their adverts and dream one day of owning my own film collection. The films were always supplied on 200ft spools, so a 400 footer was supplied on two reels, when I joined the films together I found the frame lines needed adjustment. The copy of The Great Train Robbery (1903) was the only disappointment with its comic comments and jumpy picture (I eventually got a print issued by Perry's). I remember it being announced in Movie Maker that the proprietor was having new negatives made; after this, all 2 reelers and features were supplied on 400ft spools, and the quality was greatly improved. They had William S. Hart's last film Tumbleweeds taken from the 1925 release, rather than the 1939 reissue, issued by Niles Films. I bought quite a number of their sound films, L&H interviews, Popeye cartoons, and L&H in Tree in a test tube. Their release of Ain't Misbehavin, starring Fats Waller, along with a few L&H silents, were issued in plastic library cases. Happy days.

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Robert

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David Ollerearnshaw
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 994
From: Penistone Sheffield UK
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted June 24, 2013 01:20 PM      Profile for David Ollerearnshaw   Author's Homepage   Email David Ollerearnshaw   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Have "Stepping On The Gas" from the 'Club' Mailmaster were they part of Mountain Films?

One of my projects for The Reel Image(UK) is to put some of the old adverts from the film magazines.

There was a negative for one of the films on ebay a few weeks ago.

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I love the smell of film in the morning.

http://www.thereelimage.co.uk/

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

Posts: 3063
From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
Registered: Jan 2012


 - posted June 24, 2013 01:58 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A thing I remember about Collectors Club,was the fact that you
could buy your feature a reel at a time, as your budget permitted.
I have one of their films "Carry On Doctor", that I got secondhand,
and the dates that the previous owner purchased each reel are
written on the back of the boxes.

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Tom Photiou
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1933
From: Plymouth U.K
Registered: Dec 2003


 - posted June 24, 2013 04:12 PM      Profile for Tom Photiou   Email Tom Photiou   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
thats correct Hugh, we ourselves purchased the 4 x 400 footer of The magnificnet two from CC, this was only in b/w but later they released the first reel only as a stand alone extract in colour. Unlike the usual plain boxes this feature and carry on Dr both had picture covers, (the same image used for all four parts)

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Robert Crewdson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 650
From: Wessex, UK.
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted June 25, 2013 12:29 PM      Profile for Robert Crewdson     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David, Mailmaster were the outlet of Mountain Films; I still have one of their leaflets somewhere advertising digest versions of Errol Flynn movies. Is 'Stepping on the Gas' a Keystone Kops film?. I have a couple of Keystone films. Mailmaster became Portland Films, I went to their shop when it was closing down, it was very sad to see just a few boxes left, these were mostly Castle Films cartoons and boxing films. I did buy a feature Little Lord Fauntleroy (1935) 5x400ft in one box, similar to the Niles films. They also had the feature Tom Sawyer from the same distributor. I noticed on a top shelf they had a few 16mm films, which they never used to advertise, one was 'Brats' with L&H. I still have the last issue of Film Making Magazine, and one now battered issue of Movie Maker.

--------------------
Robert

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