Beginning at Plymouth Colony

Beginning at Plymouth Colony. From the title, this 50s film sounds like it will be a dry historical film about the settlers at Plymouth Colony, but it’s actually another weapon in the war against Godless Communism. By showing us how the Plymouth settlers, as well as those at Jamestown, almost starved to death under a communal system of property, but prospered when private property was instituted, students learn that the American system of capitalism is the best in the world, and that any kind of socialism makes people lazy. I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned from the colonists’ failed experiments in communalism, but the film is so didactic and simplistic that it smacks of propaganda, and that undercuts its message, for me at least. It also has all the interest level of a boring history lecture, interrupted by brief episodes of silent reenactments and very limited animation. It does have historical interest in being a document of 1950s anticommunist fervor.

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

Autumn on the Farm

Autumn on the Farm. Farm kids Joan and Jerry have fun exploring the farm during the autumn in this 1940s EB film. They pick apples, grapes and nuts, watch their father harvest corn, and encounter various wild animals. No real surprises here, but the wild animal footage is mildly fun to watch.

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

Before Saturn

Before Saturn. In this early 1960s NASA film, “Saturn” refers to not the planet, but the then-new series of rockets being created for space travel. Before Saturn, there was a whole history of idea and the practice of rocketry, which the film documents. It’s pretty interesting, actually, and not near as bombastic or MAN-focused as most NASA films of the period. You can’t help but think of the Saturn V, the rocket that would eventually take us to the moon, when they talk about Saturn the rocket series. Lots of historical Interest here.

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

The Battle of Yorktown

The Battle of Yorktown. Americans win the final battle of the American Revolution with the help of George Washington, the French, and the magic of Encyclopedia Brittanica narration in this 50s educational film. Fans of historical battle reenactments might enjoy this; others will feel like they are back at school in American History class.

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

Bale Handling with No Hand Labor

Bale Handling with No Hand Labor. Hey! Or should I say, HAY!! Do you like hay? Do you like farm equipment? Do you like farm equipment that is made to handle, stack, and transport hale bales? Then you will LOVE this film, made by the Farmhand Company, because it is full it it (hay, I mean, plus hay baling equipment). Others, not so much so, perhaps, though the farm equipment is brightly colored, if that means something to you. Those from Grass Lodge, Montana will especially enjoy the footage of slippery barley straw.

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

Bacteria - Friend or Foe?

Bacteria — Friend or Foe?. I’d say, after watching this film, mostly friend, but there are a few that are impossible to get along with. This 50s educational film about the basics of bacteriology is made a lot more fun by three things. The first is Ted, a guy who has a job as a lab assistant despite knowing absolutely nothing about bacteria. His coworker Frank has to explain everything to him, and even then, he is easily overwhelmed, so much so that the narrator has to talk for him most of the time. The second is the geeky illustrations and animations of various kinds of bacteria, including a totally awesome petri dish chart that I simply must have for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices. The third is the film’s attempt to have actors play Famous Bacteriologist from History, such as Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur and Koch. The actors try hard, but their silent performances invite msting, especially Leeuwenhoek. These three fun elements keep the film from being overly dry, which is good, because bacteria can’t flourish that way.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. 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 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: ***.

Beginning at Plymouth Colony

Beginning at Plymouth Colony. From the title, this 50s film sounds like it will be a dry historical film about the settlers at Plymouth Co...