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Author Topic: The Universal 8 digests (2X400ft versions)
Osi Osgood
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From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
Registered: Jul 2005


 - posted February 17, 2012 01:38 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I know this tpoic has been talked about much, but it still entertains ...

I have found that the Universal 8 2X400ft digests can be reel hit or miss. Some are among the best (JAWS, High Plains Drifter), while others can be reel bad, for instance, Universal 8 thought so little of it's 2X400ft release of "Galactica: Conquest of earth" (a digest of the galactica 1980 movie, released overseas) that they didn't even release it in the US. The 2X400ft release was only done overseas, and it is deplorably bad. It's like sitting through "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (OK, that films SO BAD that it's good) ...

The "1941" digest pared it's storyline down to just the conquest of the woman who gets off on airplanes! That digest would have been much better if they had included the subplot of Slim Pickens "hick" character being caught and placed in the Japanese sub!

another bad example is "Xanadu"

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Hugh Thompson Scott
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From: Gt. Clifton,Cumbria,England
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 - posted February 18, 2012 07:21 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello Osi,one of the 2x4s that still raises a smile is "Slap Shot"
although the language used does tend to limit the audience and
the Hanson bros steal the show.

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John Hourigan
Master Film Handler

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From: Colorado U.S.A.
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted March 03, 2012 05:38 PM      Profile for John Hourigan   Email John Hourigan       Edit/Delete Post 
While I enjoyed the Universal 8 releases, my biggest complaint about the Universal 8 "2 x 400-foot" digests is that they are actually "2 x 300-foot" digests (given they easily fit on a 600' reel)!

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Christian Bjorgen
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Kvinnherad, Norway
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 - posted March 03, 2012 06:27 PM      Profile for Christian Bjorgen   Author's Homepage   Email Christian Bjorgen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Animal House" and "Smokey and the Bandit" are also very good in my opinion [Smile]

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Winbert Hutahaean
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From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
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 - posted March 03, 2012 08:15 PM      Profile for Winbert Hutahaean   Email Winbert Hutahaean   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
No John, U-8 was quite honest in terms of length (running time) due to the fact U8 always put the actual length of each reel until the sec part. Compared to Ken Films which only mentione 16 minutes.

Most of U8 two parter os 16:30 some are 17:30 so it is more than 300' which is 15 minutes in total.

The reason why the 2x400' can fiy good on 600' reel is they were pronted on polyester which is 25% thinner than acetate. Same thing with marketing films three parter (3 x 400') can be spolled to 800' reel

You know that there was almost no company released exacyly 20 minites for 400' apart from Blackhawk and small number companies.

Cheers

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Winbert

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Douglas Meltzer
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From: New York, NY, USA
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 - posted March 03, 2012 11:15 PM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There are a few U-8 2x400s where one of the parts is 16:00 or less. Both parts of Jaws are 15:55. The releases with the shortest running time are part one of FFolkes at 15:05 and the second reels of both Blues Brothers and Coal Miner's Daughter which are 15:00 each. I believe the shortest "400 footer" is Dracula '79 which is all of 13:10.

Columbia released a number of digests that filled the 400' reel to the brim.

Doug

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David Kilderry
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From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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 - posted March 04, 2012 04:56 AM      Profile for David Kilderry   Author's Homepage   Email David Kilderry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Some of the Columbia 400ft titles only fit onto a 400ft reel as they were printed on Mylar stock! Extra good value.

From memory here in around 1980 they were still selling at $59 each whereas most other companies had jumped to $66 each.

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Tom Photiou
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From: Plymouth U.K
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 - posted March 04, 2012 02:49 PM      Profile for Tom Photiou   Email Tom Photiou   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The columbia digests were called jumbo version or jumbo giants, as mentioned the jumbo giants were very full 400ft and many did run for 20 minuites, if only some of these were 20 full 400ft!! A few titles were released by columbia as 20 400 footers but sold as seperate parts one and two, One that springs to mind is Confessions of a Driving instructor, quite a good cut down apart from the very abrupt ending and the very annoying narrator added to part two, totally uneccessary as well.

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Winbert Hutahaean
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From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
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 - posted March 04, 2012 03:29 PM      Profile for Winbert Hutahaean   Email Winbert Hutahaean   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes I do remember now those Columbia classics always claimed to be 20 minutes. But have you ever really timing them? Anyaway still the most honest company is Blackhawk since it put the feet length info of each reel on the label. Some films are even 425 ft! I don't know what price they charged long time ago for the 400' reel.

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Winbert

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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 March 04, 2012 10:33 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, to thier great credit, Blackhawk released most of the titles in thier original running time whenever possible and in thier most complete form. I daresay that some silent titles may not have survived to this day i not for the archival work of Blackhawk.

The sad thing is that, to my knowledge, Universal 8 didn't survive into the LPP era of super 8.

Some of thier titles, released on Kodak SP are still spot on color without the least bit of fade, (like my Battlestar Galactica), but most have either the hint or a good deal of fade, sadly. Even sadder still, some of the worst faded titles are the last titles released, as they were released on quick fade Eastman.

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

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Winbert Hutahaean
Film God

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From: Nouméa, New Caledonia
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 - posted March 05, 2012 01:01 AM      Profile for Winbert Hutahaean   Email Winbert Hutahaean   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Osi, it has been discussed previously that some U8 cartoons (Woody Woodpeckers, etc) are on AGFA.

It was also on youtube (but has been deleted) a 400' Universal 8 "Duel" that was believed to be on low fade due non fading at all.

Here is the discussion (and you were there too... [Wink] ):

'Duel' super 8 clips from youtube

cheers,

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Winbert

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Osi Osgood
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From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
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 - posted March 05, 2012 01:25 PM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sheesh, how much time does it take to look up all of these ancient posts? Nice to know that some U8 prints are on agfa!

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

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James N. Savage 3
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From: Washington, DC
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 - posted March 06, 2012 02:20 PM      Profile for James N. Savage 3   Email James N. Savage 3   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the longest U8 400 footer that I remember was AIRPORT 1975 , which is listed at over 19 minutes!!

As far as Blackhawk Films goes, they were very generous on their 400 foot releases like Little Rascals and Laurel & Hardy, some lasting up to 22 minutes [Smile] . And they did list their own titles very acurately.

But, when it came to Blackhawk's sales of films from other distributors, they usually werent very acurate. Such as listing some of the Ken Films digests as "20 minutes", when they were actually only 15-16 minutes [Frown] .

Of course, I'm nit-picking now. Blackhawk was a wonderful company with countless rare releases, so they certainly get a "free-pass" on this minor inacuracy [Wink] .

James.

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Rob Young.
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From: Cheshire, U.K.
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 - posted March 06, 2012 03:48 PM      Profile for Rob Young.     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One of the best U8 releases ever; "Airport 80: The Concorde".

One of the most hilarious 30 minutes of entertainment ever!

Made as a serious movie, no one would ever want to sit through the whole full-length travesty (including the original paying audience, I suspect!), but show the U8 versions to an audience and it's a riot! [Smile] [Smile] [Smile]

In my top 10 of "so bad it's good"!

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Marshall Crist
Master Film Handler

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From: San Pedro, CA USA
Registered: Oct 2008


 - posted March 06, 2012 05:45 PM      Profile for Marshall Crist   Email Marshall Crist   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am curious why everyone poops on the XANADU 2x400'er. (Actual quality of the movie aside.) I've not seen it, but based on the review posted elsewhere on this site, it sounds solid. Not picking a fight at all, just interested in hearing some opinions.

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James N. Savage 3
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From: Washington, DC
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 - posted March 06, 2012 06:58 PM      Profile for James N. Savage 3   Email James N. Savage 3   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey Marshall-

I just did a re-read of the review I posted years ago for the Xanadu 2 x 400 digest.

It wasn't the worst edit, by any means. But I would say maybe slightly "lazy" editing. Such as the opening scene (before the "I'm Alive" song starts, which I love). This scene goes on too long with nothing happening. More effort to include more of the very popular Xanadu soundtrack would have been better, since that was the best thing going for the movie, in mosts opinions.

One of the finest examples of this is the 2x400 foot digest of "Fame" (MGM). The editor managed to get almost every popular song from the movie into that digest, and still tell somewhat of the story.

OOps....getting off-topic here..... [Wink]

James

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Brad Kimball
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From: Highland Mills, NY USA
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 - posted March 06, 2012 10:08 PM      Profile for Brad Kimball   Email Brad Kimball   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I like the "Dracula" 2-parter with Frank Langella. I thought the editing was actually pretty decent. My print's color has actually remained not bad considering its age. The single reel version is a nice little curio with an intro filmed specifically for the home movie release with the movie's producer, but is a little too brief (running only about 12 minutes).

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Chris Fries
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From: Ohio, US
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 - posted May 07, 2012 09:49 PM      Profile for Chris Fries     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have several 2x400 U8 films. One of my favorites is "Animal House". Very fun. Another is "The Sting". One of the best edited digests I have ever seen. I also agree with Osi that the 2x400 "JAWS" is excellent. "The Hindenburg" is very good, too.

A lot of people here have praised the 2x400 "Dracula" from 1979. I would love to find a copy. Especially one that was not faded. I want to see the original color. John Badham desaturated the film of color twenty years ago. He originally wanted his Dracula to be in black & white. This near color-free version was first released on laserdisc and is currently on DVD. I think the first release on Beta and VHS from MCA has the original color.

I just got the 1x400 13 min. version (thanks Pat!). It's pretty cool as film history. I find it interesting that U8 released the ShoWest promo reel to the general public. Of course, it was probably cheaper to do that than have someone edit the 2x400 down to one reel.

I think if I had been a theater owner in 1978 and saw this promo film at a NATO show, I definitely would have booked "Dracula". That and "Love at First Bite". [Smile]

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Osi Osgood
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From: #399R K.O.A. Mountian Home, ID. 83647
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 - posted May 08, 2012 08:41 AM      Profile for Osi Osgood   Author's Homepage   Email Osi Osgood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Love at First Bite", a very funny film! Just love Arte Johnson as the "Renfield" character!

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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 May 08, 2012 11:18 AM      Profile for Douglas Meltzer   Email Douglas Meltzer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Chris,

Dracula was part of that 1979 group of films released after U-8 first took care of their 400' b&w horror/comedy titles (mid 1977) and the first batch of 400' "Hollywood Hits" (late 1977-1978).
Also in that group were 400' versions of The Sting, Jaws 2, Slap Shot, Animal House, Smokey and the Bandit, Rooster Cogburn, Battlestar Galactica, Airport 77 and of course, Disco Beaver From Outer Space. The 2x400's had not come out yet.
I don't remember the timing, however it's possible that the Dracula promo may have been released by U-8 while the film was in the theaters.
Universal advertised it as "...chilling highlights, hosted by producer Walter Mirisch." Running a bit over 13 minutes, it was surprisingly sold at the same price as the 17 minute films. Another surprise was that it was also released by Cineavision in scope!

Doug

[ May 08, 2012, 12:20 PM: Message edited by: Douglas Meltzer ]

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

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Hugh Thompson Scott
Film God

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


 - posted May 08, 2012 02:46 PM      Profile for Hugh Thompson Scott   Email Hugh Thompson Scott       Edit/Delete Post 
You're absolutely right Doug,and the 13 min. highlights edits into
the 2x400 nicely, making a very good condensation of a very
atmospheric Dracula.Well worth having just for Kate Nelligan.

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Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
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 - posted May 08, 2012 04:39 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with Chris that 'The Sting' was one of the very best Universal 2 x 400's. My copy still has a lot of the original color. I got part 1 and part 2 from different sources and part 1 has a fair amount of fade but part 2 is still pristine! My KEN FILMS MGM 2 x 400' musicals, such as 'Singin in the Rain' and 'High Society', have all faded badly.
One can only weep to think what these digests would be worth ( and the pleasure they would give) today had they not faded.

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