American Square Dancing

American Square Dancing. Rather dry educational film in which clean 40s teenagers demonstrate square dancing moves. I would have liked to have seen the colorful costumes square dancers wear, but no, these kids are dressed like they’re going to math class. They look like they’re having very mild fun, but then, that’s what the adults making this film probably intended. The film on AV Geeks is silent for a few minutes at the beginning, but the sound kicks in eventually.

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

Auto Line Demo 1970s

Auto Line Demo 1970s. If you love big, gas guzzling 70s cars (plus a few little and slightly more fuel efficient models, like the Plymouth Cricket), then this collection of TV commercials is for you. Each commercial for a particular car model is paired with a commercial for a local dealer. There’s lots of fun stuff in these commercials, including a grizzled old prospector, an aging Arthur Godfrey, an outrageous faux Frenchman, and a diamond cutter who attempts to cut a diamond while being driven around New York City in a Mercury. A fun 70s flashback.

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


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, 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: *****.

American Square Dancing

American Square Dancing. Rather dry educational film in which clean 40s teenagers demonstrate square dancing moves. I would have liked to ...