I bought my first 16mm film in 1968. Not sure which feature I got first, but Goldiggers of 1933, the 1949 Mark of Zorro and Bride of Frankenstein were among the first acquisitions. Oops, off track. I moved to Minneapolis in late 1969 to work at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater. I ran the "Xanadu Film Festival" film society from 1971 to 1974 on the University of Minnesota campus. I invested that added income in more 16mm films, which we showed again and again at the society.
During my film buying of the early 1970s I came across several companies that openly sold 16mm films through catalogs -- Griggs Moviedrome (run by Robert E. Lee), Thunderbird Films (Tom Dunahoo), Em Gee Film Library (Murray Glass), Niles Films, Wonderland Films and of course Blackhawk Films. Wonderland sold a lot of copyrighted films they did not have the rights to sell, and some private individuals did that as well. Blackhawk had licensed films of Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang. But those other companies, particularly Griggs and Thunderbird, sold the same films month after month from negatives and they added to their catalogs with new releases. That is how I discovered public domain films.
On a parallel track and because I showed films on the University campus, I came to notice that many colleges taught film making or at least had basic film history courses. I had taken a few at the University of Wisconsin from 1964 to 1968. They used the same classics year after year like Birth of a Nation, Potemkin, Grand Illusion, The Great Train Robbery, A Trip to the Moon -- but they rented them with mixed results from Budget Films, Films Incorporated, Audio Brandon, Kit Parker Films and Swank Films. Before Video this was the only way to show films. However, prints were often scratched and worn out or incomplete or of poor quality.
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