Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see tons of footage of what Argentina was like in 1961. Other than that, there’s mainly just lots of trivia about Argentina’s economy, though it’s presented in a way that’s not quite as dull as you might think.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *** (mostly for the “Can you spot the former Nazis?” angle of msting, which this film provides lots of opportunities for). Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Allen Is My Brother

Allen Is My Brother. A 50s housewife gets frustrated when her 3-year-old son, Allen, keeps getting into mischief, so she does what any good 50s housewife would do—she gets his big sister Karen to look after him. Karen doesn’t think much of this, but once Mommy explains that family members help each other, she cooperates and eventually has fun with her little brother. This is a very cute film that has that white-bread, Dick-and-Jane feel so often seen in films of the period. It takes place in 50s Sitcomland, where there are no problems bigger than a lost puppy, and children get into no worse mischief than squirting the hose on the laundry on the clothesline. This should bring back lots of memories for any baby boomers watching it.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Adventuring Pups

Adventuring Pups. Three beagle puppies (one named Trouble, and you know what that means) run away from their mother and get into various forms of mischief with other animals. This very cute children’s film gets by on the antics of cute animals, just like the Internet does. It’s missing the ending, so we never know if the puppies find their way home or not. The stuffed animals that watched this with me (including two little ragamuffins who know a lot about getting into mischief) are concerned about the puppies’ welfare. Let’s hope they made it home OK.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Cuteness: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Arabian Children

Arabian Children. This Encyclopedia Brittanica film shows us the lifestyle and customs of one Arab family. It’s portrayed pretty much without bias or commentary, just straightforwardly. Despite the desert setting, this is not nearly as “dry” a film as many EB films. It’s actually pretty interesting to watch a family of a different culture pursue its everyday life, while narration helps us understand what’s being done. This was probably a mild mind-expander to the schoolchildren it was shown to. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

Bethune

Bethune, Donald Brittain, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Bethune. This film tells the story of Norman Bethune, a Canadian doctor who managed to beat the tuberculosis he came down with as a medical student, and go on to invent many new surgical tools and techniques. He had a passion for bringing medicine to where it was most needed, and that led him to go to Spain and create field hospitals for the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. There he created the first mobile blood bank. Eventually he grew disillusioned with the progress of the war, so he moved on to China, where he aided partisan forces led by Mao Zedong, who were then fighting the Japanese imperialist forces. He single-handedly created field hospitals out of the caves where the wounded were left to die. No matter how bad things got, he still operated on and treated the wounded with whatever was available. He eventually died of blood poisoning after cutting himself during a surgery that he had to do without gloves. Despite his obsessive tendencies towards his work, he was also a playful character who partied hard during his off hours, though this later went away in China because the conditions were so terrible and he was so overworked. The film was not shown in the U.S. for many years because of Bethune’s connection to Mao and his communist sympathies, even though he died before the People’s Republic ever happened. It’s a very powerful film about a fascinating human being, made more powerful by the narration containing quotes from Bethune’s many letters and diaries. I love this kind of historical documentary, so this was a joy to watch, though the sections on Bethune’s efforts to bring socialized medicine to Canada made me cringe, not because I’m against it, but because it was hard to watch Canadians treating this as history, and something that obviously had to be done, when it has yet to be done in my own country.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.

Airborne Magnetometer

Airborne Magnetometer. Turns out the bird really is the word. The “bird” refers to an airborne magnetometer, so nicknamed by the U.S. Geological Survey, which made this 1952 film. This device is towed by a plane and measures magnetic anomalies in the earth’s surface, which may indicate mineral deposits. And we all know what mineral deposits mean, don’t we? Mining of all kinds of valuable minerals, that’s what. The film is rather dry, since narration is the only thing on the soundtrack, but it does have lots of great visuals of various forms of clunky 50s technology, which I happen to be fond of. And it also lends itself well to msting, especially when you consider that one of the assigned crew is known as “The Observer”. This would also be a good film to mine for a video project.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

Assignment - Shoot the Moon

Assignment: Shoot the Moon. What if you had to take a close-up picture of a caramel apple being held by a woman on a spinning carnival ride, while you were moving around on another ride? This is the metaphor shown in this 1967 NASA film for photographing the moon close-up, in order to plan for a landing site for a manned mission. This is less bombastic than most other NASA films, and it’s chock-full of information about the unmanned lunar probes that were sent before Apollo 11 to photograph the moon. It’s mostly pretty straightforward, with some interesting imagery, and lots of historical interest, as it was made just before Apollo 11, so you get an idea of what scientists were thinking on the eve of that historic mission.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see ...