Castle Films

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Background

Castle Films was a home-movie distributor founded in 1924 in California by former newsreel cameraman Eugene W. Castle (1897-1960). The company originally produced business and advertising films. By 1931, it had moved its principal office to New York City. In 1937, Castle branched out into 8mm and 16mm home movies, buying newsreel footage and old theatrical films for home use. Castle's first home movie was a newsreel of the Hindenburg explosion. That same year, Castle launched his "News Parade" series, a year-in-review newsreel; travelogues followed in 1938. Castle also released sports films, animal adventures, and "old time" movies. It became a subsidiary of Universal Pictures and was eventually renamed Universal 8 from 1977 before folding in the early 1980s due to competition from home video.



1st Logo (1935-1937)

Visuals: There are two gray towers on both ends and a barbican in the center, each with battlements. Two dark gray walls connect the buildings and several film holes are seen on the bottom of each part of the castle. The company name in a bold, white font with a black shadow is placed over the castle whereas "A" and "PRODUCTION" in a wide format are above and underneath it.

Closing Visuals: On a moving background featuring various landmarks, "The End" in a fancy font and stacked format is seen above the same logo without "A" and "PRODUCTION".

Variant:

  • An early version of the closing logo features an outlined version of the normal logo. Plus, "PRESENTATION" replaces "PRODUCTION".
  • A later closing variant has the logo on a dark blocky patterned background. Shortly after, "The End" in a fancy, cursive font fades in and slightly darkens the logo.
  • A Terrytoons variant has the castle with very little detail outside of several of a few horizontal black blocks on the top of the towers acting as the castle's battlements. "PRESENTATION" is also present instead of "PRODUCTION", but unlike the early variant, the "P" is bigger than the rest of the letters.

Technique:

  • Most of the variants: a still, printed graphic.
  • On-screen closing variant: traditional animation.

Audio: The opening/closing theme of the film.

Availability: Seen on the earliest 8mm and 16mm films they distributed, which include Yesterday Lives Again and very early News Parade showreels.

2nd Logo (1937-1941)

Visuals: There is a dark castle stylized like a roll of film with the company name in the same font as before in a stacked format. "presents" in a cursive font is seen underneath. The camera slowly zooms into the logo before stopping when close.

Variants:

  • An early variant consists of the logo on a darker background and "presents" in a different cursive font.
  • An alternate variant has the logo set to a background resembling warped castle shadows and a dark-shaded flooring aligned to the logo. The castle also has luster on its towers.
  • On Music Album films, the castle is white, the company name is black, and it appears on the series' title card.

Technique: Traditional animation.

Audio: The opening theme of the film.

Visuals: On a gray background, "The End" is aligned to the center and the logo, with a shine on its towers, is underneath it. The former text also has a shadow facing the slight top right.

Variants:

  • The alternate background variant has the logo zoom out and "presents" fade in underneath.
    • On some News Parade newsreels, the logo crossfades to The End after zooming out.
  • Another alternate closing variant has the logo on the bottom right and "The End" in a big format and on the top left.
    • On Help Yourself, this variant is set to a black background, "The End" is in a different fancy font, and "Produced by" appears above the Castle Films logo.
  • One early closing variant has the logo centered on a black background with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's copyright underneath it. "THE END" in a large, Art-Deco font fades over the logo.

Technique: A still, printed graphic.

Audio: The closing theme of the film.

Availability: It was seen on News Parade showreels from this period, which include those covering early battles in World War II such as "Battle for France" and "Franco's Victory". Music Album films such as "Snowtime Serenade" also had this logo. Like the pervious logo, these films have gone out of print.

3rd Logo (1941-1945)

Visuals: Same concept as before except the logo has more shine and detail to it with the castle resembling less like a roll of film and its towers curve outwards and are reflective. The shadow on the company name is more visible and so is "PRESENTS", now in a different font.

Variants:

  • The castle pattern may be light brown, brown or light blue on colorized prints. Likewise, the background is blue or brown respectively.
  • On Terrytoons cartoons, the pattern appears on the top of the screen, "THE END" in the middle and the Terrytoons logo on the bottom.
  • On color cartoons, mainly the Lantz cartoons, a castle pattern is golden and the background is water blue.
  • An alternate version of the logo exists where the towers are made of stone, the castle has no shine, the text is less bolded, "ST" and "LM" in "CASTLE" and "FILMS" respectively have a smaller shadow, and "P R E S E N T S " is spaced out.
  • On the News Parade newsreel "News Parade of the Year 1943", the castle appears to be made of stone and the company name has visible wires over it. "Presents" is close together and italicized.
  • A rare alternate view variant of the logo has the castle facing downwards and the company name horizontally aligned to it. Its shadow is facing towards the bottom of the screen with "PRESENT" underneath it.

Technique: Traditional animation.

Audio: The intro of the respective film.

Visuals: There is the big words "The End" in either plain letters or in cursive font on the top-left corner. On the bottom-right corner is the Castle Films logo without "PRESENTS".

Variants:

  • The font for "The End" may vary.
    • One example includes the text in a fancy font with depth and luster on its lateral faces.
  • On some films, the company name is white and horizontally aligned to the castle. Said building also has a stone texture and battlements on the bottom.
  • On Washington In War Time, a trademark to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was added underneath the logo.

Technique: A still, printed graphic.

Audio: The closing theme of the film.

Availability: Can be seen on early 1940's 16mm prints of News Parade newsreels and various Terrytoons, Walter Lantz, and Ub Iwerks cartoons such as The Homeless pup and Old Mother Hubbard. Some public domain VHSes such as Kid Flicks' Little Lulu tape from 1987 has this logo intact at the end of The King's Tailor.

4th Logo (1942)

Visuals: On a white background, the castle from the previous logos is light gray, more fixed in its rectangular shape, and resembles a film roll like the 2nd logo. The company name is black and is warped along the edges of the castle whereas "PRESENTS" is inside an upper-arched flag.

Variants:

  • There are some colorized version of the logo:
    • One has the castle in blue against a tan background.

Technique: A still, printed graphic.

Audio: The opening/closing theme of the film.

Availability: This is only known to appear on a few cartoon shorts such as Mary's Little Lamb and The King's Tailor. Like the previous logo, public domain VHSes such as Kid Flicks' has this logo intact.

5th Logo (1945-1968)

Visuals: It follows the same concept as the 2nd and 3rd logos except the company name is in an Arial Black-like font and the castle is taller, the walls have lost its holes, there are three holes for each tower on the bottom, and they are made of stone. The background is also set in the sky with several clouds surrounding the logo.

Variants:

  • The position of the clouds may change.
  • An early font for the "Presents" text has it in a cursive font.
  • A television variant has the logo and text smaller and surrounded by clouds. "TELEVISION RIGHTS RESERVED" is also added underneath the logo.
  • On Survival Under Atomic Attack, "Produced by" in a cursive font appears above the logo whereas "TELEVISION RIGHTS RESERVED" and a different United World Films copyright notice is underneath the logo.
  • One variant gives the whole logo a motion-blurred shadow facing the top right.
  • A colorized variant exists, which has the logo in light brown, the sky in dark blue, and "Presents" in red.
  • A later variant features the logo in less detail than the normal logo with the castle with less shading and the background with a reduced amount of clouds.
    • The colorized version of this logo has the castle in brown and the text in white.

Technique: Traditional animation.

Audio: The opening theme of the film.

Visuals: It follows the same format as the 3rd logo's closing variant except like this logo's opening title, it is set to a different partly cloudy background.

Variants:

  • Sometimes, the logo is off center.
  • On films copyrighted by United World Films, a copyright for that company appears below the end title.
  • On the Lantz cartoons, the pattern appears on the top of the screen, "THE END" in the middle and the Walter Lantz logo on the bottom.
  • The earliest closing variant features the stacked company name, including "INC." on the bottom, covering up most of the castle. Additionally section of the fortress have a gradient and it is on the bottom center of the screen alongside the copyright notice. "THE END" in white and with a black shadow is placed above the logo.
  • On Mummy's Ghost, the later variant has "The End" slightly shifted to the left.
  • The colorized version of the later variant has "The End" in yellow.
  • A few Terrytoons re-prints feature the Castle Films logo alongside the Terrytoons logo. In this variant, the castle is black and minimalist.

Technique: A still, printed graphic.

Audio: The closing theme of the film.

Availability:

  • Can be seen on old home video prints of Universal, Walter Lantz and Terrytoons films as well 8mm and 16mm films such as Howdy Doody Christmas. This is also found on later News Parade showreels as well as abridged versions of classic movies such as Mummy's Ghost, and world and sports showcase films such as London Landmarks and Surf Riders respectively. It is intact on Rifftrax riffs of their shorts as well.
  • The later variant was used starting the late 1950's and was spotted on The Big Surf and Hawaii State of Paradise.
  • Its last known appearance was on The News Parade of 1968.

6th Logo (1967-1976)

Visuals: The same castle from before is shown but with the font now in a regular Arial font. Underneath it, "Presents" is in a cursive font. Unlike the previous logo, it is still. Additionally, the clouds are more spread out and less realistic.

Closing Visuals: Same as the normal logo but "Presents" is replaced with "The End".

Variants:

  • Colorized version of the logo features it in the same coloring as the previous logo but with the bottom text in white and its shadow in red.
  • At the end of an abridged version of Psycho, the following text is placed underneath "The End":
For home and non-theatrical showings only.
ALL OTHER USES STRICTLY PROHIBITED
  • An in-credit variant exists.

Technique: A still, printed graphic.

Audio: The opening/closing theme of the film.

Availability: Seen on the company's last films they distributed, which includes several Apollo 11 films such as Apollo 11: On The Moon. One of its last appearances was on a 1970's 7-minute digest reel of Psycho.