Reelcraft Pictures Corporation

Reelcraft Pictures Corporation
Item# 4452

The Bulls Eye Film Company was founded in December, 1918 by Milton L. Cohen with Nat Spitzer as studio manager. The company immediately engaged some of the era's top "second-rung" comics, headed by Chaplin imitator Billy West, fresh from a successful series at King Bee. Other talent during the firm's brief lifetime included Gale Henry, Leo White, Texas Guinan, Alice Howell, Milburn Moranti and the prolific Billy Franey. The first director general of the company was Charles Parrott, who as Charley Chase, would later find fame with his own series at Hal Roach Studios.

The company would also pick up unreleased shorts to beef up the schedule, such as Selig's "Napoleon and Sally" series of monkey comedies and Stan Laurel's unsold pilot film, "Lucky Dog".

Bulls Eye soon ran into litigation when in July 1919, Billy West (born Roy B. Weissberg) was sued and counter-sued over breach of contract. West had fulfilled just three months of his four-year Bulls Eye contract when he bolted to Chicago to make shorts for the Emerald Motion Picture Company. Bulls Eye's solution was to sue West and hire Harry Mann to play Billy West playing Charlie Chaplin.

The temporary loss of West did not slow Bulls Eye and by August the company had five companies and was considering opening a second studio in San Francisco. The studio's Gale Henry comedies were so popular that a comic strip series was created and syndicated to one hundred newspapers west of Denver.

Around September, 1919, the company pioneered a satiric newsreel, "The Weakly Indigestion". Each reel kidded current events of the day, a concept that survives today as the "Weekend Update" segment of U.S. television's "Saturday Night Live".

Bulls Eye's glory days were soon to end when, in March, 1920, the company was merged with Bee Hive Film Exchanges, the Interstate Film Company, and Emerald (rendering the West suit moot) to form Reelcraft Pictures. Cohen was given the position of General Sales Manager and the new president was R. C. Cropper (who has signed this piece), formerly of Cropper Distributing and Bee Hive. The acquisition of Bee Hive and Interstate gave the company exchanges in New York and the major midwestern cities, but the release product would still be primarily that of Bulls Eye's with the addition of the Emerald comedies. The company survived for two years as Reelcraft when it went into receivership and sold its negatives to the Export and Import Film Company. According to Kalton C. Lahue and Sam Gill in "Clown Princes and Court Jesters", Reelcraft met it's demise when the profitable series (those of Alice Howell and Billy Franey) were outnumbered by the money-losing series. After one final mention of the dissolution of Reelcraft in the November 18, 1922 issue of "Moving Picture World", the company passed into oblivion.

Certificate: Capital Stock, issued in the 1920s

Printer: W. N. Perrin & Co., New York

Dimensions: 8 (h) x 12 (w)

State: NY-New York

Subject Matter: Sports and Entertainment | Motion Pictures

Vignette Topic(s): None

Condition: Vertical fold lines, no cancels, and some toning and edge faults from age.

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