Better Breakfasts USA

Better Breakfasts, USA. An early-60s school class takes a field trip to a TV station. But instead of learning about television production, which might actually be interesting, they learn all about how important it is to eat a good breakfast, especially one that includes breakfast cereal. The fact that the Cereal Institute sponsored this film has no bearing on this whatsoever. This is a fun, geeky film with lots of nerdy-looking kids, cereal factory footage, questionable nutrition information (Just what are “restored” grains? They’re not “enriched”, since that is already mentioned.), home economists, and corporate propaganda. It even has some rather scary-looking footage of a research study (one of 3!) that compares schoolchildren who eat breakfast with those who don’t. This film is part of a good breakfast, if consumed with meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, and buttered bread. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things. Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers the humiliation of having to sharpen his pencil while everybody is looking at him, being called a “baby” by his classmates, and totally not impressing older kid Fred when he can’t find what he was going to show him. This is pretty painful for him, but since this is a Coronet film, it all ends happily when he does an abrupt about-face and starts putting things away and being more careful with stuff. And because this is a cheaply-made film, this is all told to us by a friendly female narrator than through dialogue. Maybe they left the soundtrack out in the yard; hope Dad can fix it. A charming early childhood educational film that would make good fodder for msting.

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 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: ***.

Better Breakfasts USA

Better Breakfasts, USA. An early-60s school class takes a field trip to a TV station. But instead of learning about television production,...