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Author Topic: The Story of Ken Films ....
Osi Osgood
Film God

Posts: 10122
From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005


 - posted November 08, 2009 09:24 AM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There have been some requests, desiring a history of Ken Films. I honestly know very little about it's history, beyond the fact that it seems that they were, to an extant, an "Umbrella" Super 8 company. A number of different studio's were released by Ken films. For instance ...

American International Pictures
Fox Films
Republic Pictures
Paramount
United Artists

They were located in Fort Lee, New Jersey and for awhile, they were the most prolific company. They secured large contracts with major distributors in the retail market, (for instance K-mart), while many of the other companies were limited to camera stores or direct mail order.

They're last hurrah was with the Empire Strikes Back digests, which means that they're demise was around the end of 1981.

Beyond that, I can give little other info on the company, but I'm sure that many others can give far more info on the company.

Who began the company, for instance?

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"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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Douglas Meltzer
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From: New York, NY, USA
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 - posted November 08, 2009 11:56 AM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Osi,

United Artists (UA-8) and Republic Pictures home movie division were not originally part of Ken Films. Bob Lane (President and Founder of Ken) acquired them in the mid – late 1960’s. United Artists also put out Standard 8mm sound editions of their cutdowns, but Ken discontinued that practice. In addition to the UA-8 and Republic library, Ken released silent digests of American International Pictures horror films and cartoons, along with a number of Warner Brothers titles.
In 1973, Ken signed a deal with Paramount to release a large number of 200’ and 50’ silent versions of some of their most popular features, starting with two parters of “The Greatest Show on Earth”, “The Ten Commandments” and “Samson & Delilah”.
Ken Films made the big jump into color and sound in 1974 with 200’ versions of all 5 “Planet of the Apes” movies. That deal with 20th Century Fox resulted in a staggering amount of 400’ releases in early 1975, starting with “The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre”. Ken also put out a large number of 200’ color/sound American International product during this period.
The highlight of the Ken Films story (and package movie history in general) has to be the Ken release of the 200’ color and sound “Star Wars” while the film was still playing in theaters!
In 1978, Ken and MGM came to an agreement for Ken to distribute selections from MGM’s vast library, starting with “Dr. Zhivago”. This title, along with a number of others, was later released in 3x400’. American International also got the 400’ clamshell case treatment and in the case of “Meteor”, a 3x400’ release.
“The Empire Strikes Back” (Part two) was Ken Film’s last 400’ non-MGM title. Ken released feature length prints into the early 1980's including “The French Connection”, “Casablanca”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Singin' In The Rain” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”. They also distributed the ABC line of features. In the mid 1980’s Bob Lane brought Ken Films to an end, with Derann receiving many of the Ken’s feature negatives.

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Doug

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I think there's room for just one more film.....

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Osi Osgood
Film God

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From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005


 - posted November 08, 2009 03:21 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So THATS where my "French Connection" feature print came from!

So, Ken films kept alive into the 80's by just doing features.

Doug, what was the very last feature that Ken Films released, and what features did Derann re-release from Ken Films negatives?

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"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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Douglas Meltzer
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 - posted November 08, 2009 04:29 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Osi,

I can't be sure which feature was Ken's last. You've made me curious though, so I checked the May 2007 issue of Small Format which has the eigth installment of John Clancy and Keith Wilton's excellent "Out of the Box" series. They mention that Bob Lane and Derek Simmonds of Derann had "a good relationship that resulted in a 50 copy limited run of "That's Entertainment II" released as a joint venture between Ken Films and Derann". They go on to say Bob Lane did the negotiating on behalf of Derann to obtain negatives for "The Wizard of Oz", "The Three Musketeers", "Meet Me in St. Louis", "Tom Thumb", "Rocky", "Some Like it Hot", "To Have and Have Not", and "Gone with the Wind". The article also says that among the MGM and Fox negatives that went to Derann after Ken Films ended were "Robin Hood", "Casablanca", and "Von Ryan's Express".

Doug

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I think there's room for just one more film.....

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Greg Marshall
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Nashville, TN USA
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 - posted November 08, 2009 05:21 PM      Profile for Greg Marshall   Email Greg Marshall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow, I didn't know Ken did that many features. I have Ken's Singin in the Rain, while certainly not a Derann, it's acceptable in my book (for the price I paid for it). I'm guessing when we see these titles on sales lists, we should pay attention to the price? Ken vs. Derann? Would love to see a way to distinguish.

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Douglas Meltzer
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 - posted November 08, 2009 07:16 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here's a recent thread about Ken Films' feature releases.

Doug

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I think there's room for just one more film.....

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Osi Osgood
Film God

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From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
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 - posted November 08, 2009 07:23 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Greg ...

A word of caution though, on purchasing original Ken Films features ...

They were not, from what I understand, printed on L.P.P. stock.
My print of "French Connection", while a superior print, is Kodak SP, and while mint, needs special storage to keep that color pristine. I'm sure that the Derann prints from Ken negatives were on superior stock.

Just to say, have caution as to which "Singing in the Rian", for instance, you buy.

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"All these moments will be lost in time, just like ... tears, in the rain. "

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Winbert Hutahaean
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From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
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 - posted November 08, 2009 08:36 PM      Profile for Winbert Hutahaean   Email Winbert Hutahaean   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Osi, some of Ken's are also on AGFA and LPP especially those released after 1980.

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Winbert

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Joe Caruso
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 - posted November 09, 2009 05:36 AM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Where is Bob Lane today?

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Joe Caruso
Film God

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 - posted November 09, 2009 06:06 PM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thought it may be high-time for a book on these little companies that accomplished alot towards the hobby's fruition; Griggs, Carnival, Niles, Excel, Ken, etc

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Brad Kimball
Phenomenal Film Handler

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 - posted November 09, 2009 09:37 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here, Here! I'll buy one. And don't forget Select Film Library.

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Greg Marshall
Jedi Master Film Handler

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 - posted November 09, 2009 10:30 PM      Profile for Greg Marshall   Email Greg Marshall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Did Universal ever release features on S8, or just stuck with the digests?

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John W. Black
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From: Deptford,N.J.
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 - posted November 10, 2009 12:09 AM      Profile for John W. Black   Author's Homepage   Email John W. Black   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Universal released odd stuff like Richard Pryor in concert,the unfinished journey of Robert F Kennedy,the 12 chapter serial,Pirates Treasure.

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Beat em or burn em,they go up pretty quick

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Winbert Hutahaean
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 - posted November 10, 2009 08:34 AM      Profile for Winbert Hutahaean   Email Winbert Hutahaean   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Did Universal ever release features on S8, or just stuck with the digests?
Greg, that very topic is discussed here:

Universal 8 box for full feature

there is a photo how the Universal 8 full feature was packed.

And also here:

Universal features

[Wink]

cheers,

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Winbert

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Greg Marshall
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Nashville, TN USA
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 - posted November 10, 2009 05:56 PM      Profile for Greg Marshall   Email Greg Marshall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, Winbert! I've learned some new things by reading those. I have never seen a U8 full feature box, like the one of Scarface. Nice.

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Douglas Meltzer
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 - posted November 10, 2009 08:08 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One more link.....a list of all Universal 8 releases.

Doug

--------------------
I think there's room for just one more film.....

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Greg Marshall
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Nashville, TN USA
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 - posted November 10, 2009 10:39 PM      Profile for Greg Marshall   Email Greg Marshall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, Doug!

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Greg Marshall
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Nashville, TN USA
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 - posted February 07, 2010 09:12 PM      Profile for Greg Marshall   Email Greg Marshall   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
OK, I just got a copy of 'The Sound Of Music', and 'Butch Cassidy', both 400' versions. I have to say that both of these prints have kept, I'd say, 65-75%, if not more, of their color... especially TSOM. I checked the stock, thinking they might be SP, but they are both Eastman. I already had a print of TSOM already, all pink, absolutely no color left at all, not even a faint green or red.

Were there different variations of the Eastman stock I'm not aware of?

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Joe Caruso
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 - posted February 08, 2010 05:40 AM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Doug, I'm looking for S8 Silent Ken TEN COMMANDMENTS, Volume 2, can you post a box cover, or might you have one to sell or trade?

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Douglas Meltzer
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 - posted February 08, 2010 07:00 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Shorty,

I only have one copy and it looks something like this:

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Doug

--------------------
I think there's room for just one more film.....

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Brian Hendel
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 900
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 - posted February 08, 2010 07:28 PM      Profile for Brian Hendel   Email Brian Hendel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used to love those old "10 Commandments" Ken reels when I was a little kid in the 70's. I seem to recall that the 50' reels had different scenes than the two 200' digests. Maybe my memory's going, but I remember collecting all four reels... but lost them along the way. Maybe it would be fun to have them again... although I keep eyeing the Marketing three reel digest that would be nice to have... the whole movie was too long anyway!

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Brad Kimball
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1166
From: Highland Mills, NY USA
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 - posted February 08, 2010 09:15 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have the Marketing 3-parter. No original titles (just the title in white letters against a blue background on each reel). The editing isn't too bad considering that it was a near 3.5 hour movie. The scenes do run fairly quickly and sometimes the audio from one scene runs into the next before fading out. The color isn't bad. It has faded to some degree, but not nearly as bad as my Ken/Columbia or U-8 titles. There's still blues and greens left, but all 3 reels are on the brownish side. If you see it for a resonable price - get it. It's a nice curio to acquire.

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John Skujins
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 - posted February 08, 2010 09:36 PM      Profile for John Skujins   Email John Skujins   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I used to get those catalogs, the third type pictured, and I still have them. I was a teenager in '79 to '81 so I had little money but I somehow managed to afford (some via xmas & birthdays) Star Wars color silent 200 ft, Alien color silent 200 ft with tape, ESB 400 ft, and ESB part 2. I remember having to decide if I wanted Star Wars part 2 or ESB part 2 because I cold only afford one. I chose ESB part 2 so I could have an 800 ft film of one movie. I really wanted the other one though because of the death star scene! Never got it. Are most of them red now? My ESB part 2 still has great color.

By the way, my Ken Films catalog of features lists French Connection II but not French Connection. Do we have proof that the original was a Ken release?

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Brad Kimball
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1166
From: Highland Mills, NY USA
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 - posted February 08, 2010 10:39 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
French Connection was definitely a KEN release. The box had the standard SUPER 8 in the red box at the top of the box and I know I have it in one of my KEN catalogs. It's on Ebay quite alot in the film category.

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Joe Caruso
Film God

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From: USA
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 - posted February 09, 2010 05:28 AM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Doug, that's the one I need - You always come through with the right box - I think you were 'Shorty' before me [Smile] - Stay in touch, the other Shorty

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