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Showing posts from 2003
Anyone at All (film #6 on Oops! (A/V Geeks)). [Category: Educational]Phil’s surprise party for his best friend Larry is ruined when Larry goes and gets himself killed in a car accident. As a result, Phil goes on an organizing frenzy, starting a teen safety council at his school and getting all kinds of other people in the community involved. Fortunately, everybody who gets involved has a tearjerking story to tell about a friend or relative whose life was ruined after getting into an accident. The campiest part is the end, where all the accident victims get to speak their piece about safety, including Larry, speaking from beyond the grave. When Phil is thanked by community leaders for getting everybody so fired up about safety, he says Larry really deserves the credit, a premise which is ludicrous after a moment’s thought. I guess Larry did everybody a big favor by dying in that accident, though I’m not sure he would like people to think so. Maybe we should all improve our communities …
Arrival of McKinley’s Funeral Train at Canton, Ohio. This is just a scene of a train pulling into a station and lots of people going up to meet it. You wouldn’t know it was McKinley’s funeral train unless you were told. Still, this is an important historical document of a presidential assassination, so it has some value. A 1901 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Hot Number (film #691 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Goodness, it’s hot in here! I do believe I’ll strip down to my undies in front of this camera! There! That’s better. Another rather silly stag film, folks.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Thank You Mask Man (track #14 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Comedian Lenny Bruce's "Thank You Mask Man" bit is animated here, using very 60s-style animation. The soundtrack, though, is Bruce himself performing the bit live. The bit provides us with a new spin on the Lone Ranger legend, involving messianic Jews, cuss words, and "unnatural acts". It's easy to see why people tried to censor Bruce back in the 60s (though he's nothing compared to somebody like Eddie Murphy today). It's a little bit hard to hear––Bruce talks so fast and the sound quality is only fair––and what you can hear is only mildly amusing, though I suppose it was funnier back when such things were much more outrageous.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Crisis in Morality (film #5 on Christian Youth Scare Films, Vol. 5 (Something Weird, 2000)). [Category: Public Service]This sensationalistic 50s film diagnoses all social evils, including juvenile delinquency, increasing divorce rates, crime, and the nuclear threat, as symptoms of sin and moral decay, i.e. lack of sufficiently rigid religious beliefs. The answer, well besides everybody getting the One True Religion, is more Christian schools and colleges. This ending is surprisingly tame and pat considering the level of sensationalist hand-wringing that went on before. You get the feeling that this is just another sales film in the end. It’s pretty campy, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Apollo, Segment 4005 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This clip from a NASA film focuses on planes that fly through the stratosphere, gathering research data and taking photographs from the upper atmosphere. One of the highlights of this research is the detection of corn blight in the Midwest. That gives you an idea of the overall level of interest in this clip.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: *.
BBC TV Trailer #1 (film #104 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]Remember back in 2000 when the Daleks invaded London? No? Then you need to watch this campy Dr. Who trailer from the mid 60s! Do it or you will be EX-TER-MIN-ATED!!!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Adventures of Rupert the Bear #2 (film #34 in the Children’s TV section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Closing credits for the same tv show as #1. Again, this is quite cute, showing all the various puppet characters in the show. I particularly like the elephant dressed as a stuffy English gentleman.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Big Train (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #216 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Made by the New York Central Railroad, this 50s film tells us how railroads are modernizing in standard industrial film style. It goes into a great deal of detail about this in a rather dry fashion. Railroad buffs will probably find it interesting, others less so. The last part of the film is a rather whiny lecture by Alfred Pearlman about how the government subsidizes other forms of transportation, but lets the railroads shift for themselves. After learning about how many government perks the railroads were given back in the 19th century, I can’t say his little talk stimulates much sympathy in me. Still, this is a quite historically interesting record of where the railroads were at in the 50s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
Hooray for Hollywood unsold tv pilot opening (film #2 on TV Turkeys (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]The opening credits for the pilot of an unsold tv sitcom, "Hooray for Hollywood". The show is based on the antics of the secretary of a tyrannical movie producer during the silent days of the 1920s. This is a potentially funny premise, and the slapstick opening seems like it ought to be funny, but isn't. I think they were trying too hard. And it's too professional looking to be campy. Little Shop of Horrors fans will want to watch for a brief appearance by Jackie Joseph.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Beyond the Blue Horizon (film #1384 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]Hey, we’re swingin’ now! This soundie features not only an organist, but an accordionist as well, with an electric guitar for backup. Is that a young Lawrence Welk on the squeezebox? I hear that very white people like this sort of thing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Arrival of Emigrants, Ellis Island (film #1 on The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906). [Category: Early Film & TV]This mostly involves large crowds of people carrying huge amounts of luggage being ushered into a building. Still, this has quite a bit of historical interest. A 1906 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Alcohol Is Dynamite (film #5 on The Educational Archives, Volume Seven: More Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2003)). [Category: Educational]Some teenagers ask a guy on the street to go into a liquor store and buy some booze for them. Unfortunately, they are in a Sid Davis movie, so not only does the guy refuse, but he tells them a long, lurid story about three teenaged boys who start drinking and end up with police records, school trouble, and the inevitable horrible car accident. This is your basic Sid Davis number, which means that it’s quite lurid and preachy, and thus a lot of fun. Probably the most unbelievable moment is when two of the three guys, who must both at least be 17, are shown having their “first drink,” with the usual winces. Even for the 50s, it’s hard to believe that liquor has never crossed those lips before. Also fun are the heavily overacted scenes of teen drunkenness.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
BBC1 – Trailer (film #105 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]A late-70s trailer for two episodes of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, it is in black-and-white and poor quality. Who fans may find this interesting, others probably not.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Conquering Roads (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #371 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 30s Jam Handy film talks about the improvements in roads that have had to be made to keep up with innovations in cars. Divided highways, rotary traffic circles, railroad trestles, and cloverleaf junctions are particularly highlighted. This is a good historical record of the evolution of roads in the first half of the 20th century, and the breezy Jam Handy style makes it more interesting than it might be.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 4004 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This clip from a NASA film features unmanned rockets that were sent into the stratosphere to send back scientific data. Also featured is one of the first space telescopes. This is quite brief and has a little bit of historical interest, but not much else.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Black Marketing (film #224 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This film has an imposing beginning: “THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRESENTS" appears over scary, dramatic music. I've seen lots of government films, but none that begin that way. That would make a great opening sequence for just about any film or video you'd care to make. It begins a rather poorly-made film about black market meat trafficking during World War II. The entire film is narrated by a U.S. attorney addressing a jury in a very echoey courtroom. He presents a conspiracy by several shady-looking businessmen (who sit in the courtroom wiping sweat from their faces and looking generally nervous throughout the film) to buy and sell meat under the table at inflated prices. By an incredible coincidence, the ringleader of the racket is named Mr. A and his cronies are named Mr. B, Mr. C, Mr. D, Mr. E, and so forth all the way down the alphabet. Scenes are shown of members of the racket,…
The Future Is Now (film #3 on Atomic TV (Video Resources, 1994)). [Category: Industrial]This gee-whiz early 50s film about the future was surprisingly accurate in some of its predictions, such as camcorders replacing home movies, refrigerators dispensing ice and water in the door, nuclear power plants, master-slave manipulators, and solar-powered gadgets. Other not-so-accurate predictions include pushbutton kitchen cupboards, preserving food with gamma rays instead of refrigeration, washing dishes with ultrasonic waves, and the ubiquitous picturephone (it must not be The Future yet, 'cause we don't have picturephones). The most jaw-dropping moment is a scientist carefully checking his Geiger counter before entering an irradiated cornfield marked with prominent warning signs, while the narrator tells us how radiation will improve the food of the future, implying that we're supposed to actually eat that radioactive corn. A great relic of 50s futuremania.
Ratings: Camp/Humor …
Catching Trouble (MST3K Episode #315; Teenage Caveman (short #2)). [Category: Hollywood]Joel apologizes to everyone everywhere for this highly upsetting newsreel featurette about live wild animal capture, and rightly so. We're supposed to admire the antics of Ross, the wild animal hunter as he runs through the Florida everglades catching animals for cheesy reptile farms and the like, but after hearing the animals' anguished screams you root for them every time. Almost too painful to watch, but the msting helps. And to cleanse your soul afterwards, you absolutely must view the host segment that follows, entitled "Catching Ross", where Joel and the bots give the great white hunter a taste of his own medicine!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: BOMB. Msting: *****. Overall Rating: **** (with msting)/BOMB (without).
Bacteria: Friend and Foe (film #184 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]This film starts out a little bit like a Coronet film, with high-schooler Ted struggling to see bacteria in a microscope and being helped by his older brother Frank, a bacteriologist who bears a slight resemblance to Dr. Radford Baines. Unfortunately, it's not long before this becomes a standard dry EB science film about the various kinds of bacteria. There aren't even any killer shrews in it. The graphic elements are mildly fun, with title cards in various shades of Pepto-Bismol pink and a sort of periodic table of bacteria on the wall that Frank refers Ted to. But mostly this is the sort of film most students probably slept through.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Big Delivery Wagon (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #214 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]The Big Delivery Wagon delivers Heinz products to your store, or it did before wagons were replaced by trucks. This mildly amusing industrial film spotlights national distribution of Heinz food products in garish color. All tomatoes, ketchup bottles, and housewives’ lipstick are bright, screaming red especially. Mostly this is pretty ordinary, but since it’s about food products, it’s pretty fun, and it does have some curious moments, such as when the various different kinds of food products are spotlighted, one after the other, but all we see are stacks of shipping cartons marked with each product’s name. Mildly fun and good for msting.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Haunted House Soundie (extra on Monsters Crash the Pajama Party Spook Show Spectacular DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This soundie has no title and I can’t identify the song, so bear with me. An African-American couple is spooked by ghosts and skeletons in a haunted house. This is full of the racist stereotypes of black people as cowardly and superstitious, especially in the performance of the male actor. The special effects and the general look of the film is fun and creative, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bataille de Boules de Neige (film #10 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Hey everybody!! SNOWBALL FIGHT!!! Hey, let's get that guy on the bicicyle!! Let's pummel 'im!!! Stop it, you hooligans!!! Arrrgghh!!! (sound of a guy falling off a bike). He eventually beats a hasty, snow-covered retreat. One of the more fun Lumiere films. An 1896 Lumiere film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Rupert the Bear #1 (film #33 in the Children’s TV section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Cute opening credits for a British children’s tv show featuring puppet animation of stuffed animals. The notes on the site say this is “scary,� but I find it to be genuinely cute. I ought to send them Watch Out for Poisons––now that’s really scary!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Arrest in Chinatown, San Francisco, Cal. (film #2 on Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1916. Also, #16 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]A guy is carried off in a paddy wagon, back in the days when it really was a wagon. One of the arresting officers just couldn’t resist repeatedly waving at the camera. An 1897 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Bassett’s Jelly Babies (film #1 in the Adverts section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]Weird British animated commercial for that very British of candies, jelly babies. I didn’t know babies could do the Charleston.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Confidential File: Medical Quacks (film #367 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 50s tv program starring Paul Coates attempts to blow the lid off of medical quackery. First it tells the story of a little old lady with a lump in her throat, whose “friendâ€� takes her to see a “doctorâ€� in a hotel room, who “treatsâ€� her with a machine made of an old phonograph with lots of knobs attached. Then Coates interviews a California food and drug inspector, who, speaking very stiltedly, tells us that quacks who are caught are generally slapped on the wrist by the courts. He is very boring and hard to listen to, but it gets more interesting when he starts showing us various fake bizarre fake medical devices of the type that can be found in the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices today. Then Coates interviews says we are probably thinking that people who fall for such quackery are pretty stupid. He then interviews a guy who had half his ear eaten away by a “cancer s…
Harlem Review (film #643 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This all-black 30s soundie has stereotypes aplenty, some pretty offensive. It starts with two black sailors who look straight out of a minstrel show talking about how they used to be admirals in the African Navy. Then we see them dressed as admirals on the S.S. Topsy, a ship decorated with racist cartoon characters. This is the most offensive part of the film. Then it switches to the music, which consists of several African-American performers probably trying very hard to get a break into show business. It’s too bad they had to appear in such a film in order to get started. Not only is it racist, but the sound quality is terrible, especially when the jazz band plays––it sounds like it was recorded from the other end of a dance hall. This film is a good historical record for how difficult it was for black performers to get started in one of the few fields they had a chance to make good money in, if t…
Apollo, Segment 4003 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]In this clip from a NASA film, unmanned space probes designed to study the sun are announced and explained. Pretty standard.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Adam Adamant Lives (film #4 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes and Obscurities]Groovy! These opening credits for a British science fiction television show just scream the 60s. This is probably where Austin Powers gets his inspiration. Lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Drive-In Movie Double Feature #84 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]Is it just me or are these intermissions getting shorter? It's not just me––the timer starts at 5 minutes! Dock Sinister Cinema 10 points! Still, this one has a couple of priceless items that haven't appeared before in this series.
Highlights:
According to my husband, Chilly Dilly just barely makes it to the Evil List.
Your Drive-In Potato Expert seems just a little too interested in those potatoes he's inspecting!
Is that motor oil they're pouring into the popcorn popper in the Manley's Hi-Pop Ad? It's either that or the darkest butter I've ever seen!
The highlight of this intermission is a promo for soft drinks featuring a "doctor" showing us a diagram of the "parched dry area at the back of the throat". This ranks right up with the best hokey "scientific" explanations in cheesy 50s science fiction movies!
For some reason, the drive-in is raffling o…
The Big Board (film #212 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This film tries to explain in simple terms the workings of the New York Stock Exchange, but fails (at least for me, anyway). It does have some rather campy scenes of stockbrokers handling big blocks with stock certificates printed on them, going into start, secret-looking rooms, and making phone calls on colored telephones (one of these phones is bright red, just like the phone the President could use to usher in World War III––this just begs to be msted!). Mostly, though, this is rather dull.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Greenwich Village Sunday (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #635 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This laid-back early-60s film shows us street life in Greenwich Village on a Sunday. We see such things as sidewalk art displays, folksinging in the circle, and beatniks reciting poetry. This definitely brings back a memorable time and place, giving us a glimpse of the birth of the 60s counterculture. One rather silly aspect of the film is a prim woman in a striped dress and little white gloves who appears in almost every scene and reacts to things as if she was on Mars (though with a smile on her face). This film could have perhaps had more content to it, but then it wouldn’t have been as laid back as a Greenwich Village Sunday.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
Andy Pandy (film #1 in the Children’s TV section of TVArk). [Category: Early Film & TV]Very cute opening credits to an early 50s British children’s tv show. I love the spelling of the show’s name in alphabet blocks. The very cute and British narrator may be found insufferable by some, but I liked her––she reminds me of somebody’s nanny. Watch this when you’re in the mood to be coddled for a bit.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Sheep Shape (film #5 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Blackie the Sheep dresses in drag in order to catch a wolf who has stolen money donated to the orphan's home. Not quite as weird as that sounds, unfortunately.
Ratings Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Baretta (film #7 in the Fall Season Previews of the Seventies section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Standard-issue promo for the 70s cop show “Baretta,� featuring lots of Robert Blake clips. I’m not a cop show fan, so this didn’t interest me too much.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: *.
Children Watch Us Cross (film #5 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]Short, thoroughly charming British public service film about a little boy whose parents don’t cross streets safely. His mum and dad drag him into one near miss at getting hit by a car to another, until Mum almost manages to get them hit by Dad’s car (d’oh!!). The British pull off this kind of twist a lot better than Americans, and this will leave you smiling.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Apollo, Segment 4002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]Clip from a NASA film announcing the mission of the unmanned Mariner spacecraft that took some of the first close-up pictures of Mars. This has some historical interest, but not much else.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Ace of Wands (film #3 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits from a British children’s fantasy series. The prominently-featured pentagram would never fly in the U.S., unfortunately, religious fundamentalism being what it is. The slightly psychedelic graphics and the groovy soundtrack music definitely date this to early 70s, which also make it quite fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Besler Corporation Promo Film: Steam-Driven Vehicles (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1800 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This early-30s film looks like it was probably an anachronism in its own time. It’s all about the wonders of that latest technological marvel, steam power. Not only that, it’s a silent film, even though talkies had been around for several years by that point. The first part of the film is the most interesting, as we see a steam driven car that can go up to 85 miles per hour (wow!). It’s bizarre to see a car occasionally emit puffs of steam from its side like an old-fashioned locomotive. I bet that would have gone over real well on city streets. Then we get to see a steam-powered airplane, which I admit threw me for a loop––I’d never heard of such a thing. But we see it flying, emitting puffs of steam all the while. Then it settles into its real subject matter, commuter trains, and then it gets dull. Still, there…
Home Movies (film #14 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Clips from color, silent home movies taken at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Although it's interesting to see the fair in color, this is just way too short to be very interesting. A nice touch, though, is the "film noise" soundtrack which was added to these silent clips.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Ameta (film #31 in the Dance section of American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920). [Category: Early Film & TV]A well-dressed woman does a dance with big twirly scarves. In the finale, she portrays the big tornado scene from The Wizard of Oz (OK, I made that up, but that’s what it looks like). Probably more fun to do than it is to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Arrest and Trial (film #21 in the Lost Fall Previews of the 60s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Short, rather campy clip from the preview of the 60s courtroom tv series “Arrest and Trial.� In it, public defender Chuck Connors blatantly badgers a witness with the approval of the prosecuting attorney, who, when questioned, asks the judge to be “flexible with procedure.� I don’t think that would fly in a real courtroom.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Green Pastures (acquired through trading). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider] This all-black cast film portrays African-American versions of Old Testament stories such as the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Ark, and Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. As usual for this sort of movie, it’s full of both stereotypes and genuine African-American culture and it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. There’s a charming earnestness about the proceedings, but there’s also a patronizing undertone, as if the beliefs that are being portrayed are of simple, childlike folk. The theology is maddeningly simplistic at some points, while at other points, such as God’s discovery of mercy, it’s complex and fascinating. I would like to see a movie like this made without the constraints of white expectations and stereotypes. Still, overall it’s an interesting movie to watch, as it’s obvious a lot of effort was put into it. I especially enjoyed its down-to-earth portrayal o…
Beyond the Skies (film #9 in the 100 Years in the Air section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Clip from a Soviet-made (but narrated in English) documentary about cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth. This is interesting from a historical perspective, and also for showing us the Soviet perspective on the space race, though, as usual, I wish I could see the whole film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Children and Ponds (film #4 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]British public service announcement urging parents to keep young children away from garden ponds, as they are a drowning risk. The little girl in the spot is incredibly cute and the spot is well-made.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
A for Andromeda #2 (film #2 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Clip from an early-60s British science fiction drama. Julie Christie plays a woman who used to be controlled by a computer and who is now enjoying her freedom after the computer has been destroyed. This well-acted clip indicates that the show was probably excellent. Too bad it wasn’t all preserved.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 4001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]The opening credits to “1971 Aeronautics and Space Highlights,� prefaced with a bored-sounding female voice announcing a call number and a view of the number hastily written on a piece of paper. This has the feel of being stolen out of the editing room.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Birth of the B-29 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #223 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This is the Master Hands of World War II, with narration Norman Corwin would have been proud of. It tells the story of how the huge B-29 Superfortress bombers were made in huge factories staffed by workers from all walks of life. The visuals and the stirring narration work together to create a masterful piece of propaganda in that bombastic, yet lyrical style that is peculiar to the form. As is usual for war propaganda, the film starts with some frankly racist commentary about the Japanese designed to inspire hatred for the enemy. Then we get to see the B-29s being built in huge factories––this is really great factory tour footage. When the workers suddenly stop working and look to the skies to hear the "music" of the bombers going through the air, audience members' hearts probably swelled with patriotic pride. The part at the…
Air Traffic Control (film #8 in the 100 Years in the Air section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]This British newsreel story about air traffic control through radar is actually quite fun to watch and informative. It makes controlling those big jets seem like jolly good fun. Though I wonder how those controllers they show in those big rotating radar detectors keep from getting dizzy.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Aguinaldo’s Navy (film #11 on The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures). [Category: Early Film & TV]Said navy seems to consist of a few canoes and sailboats. Granted, they’re big canoes and sailboats, but still you can see here why Aguinaldo, whoever he was, probably lost. A 1902 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Andy Williams Show (film #20 in the Lost Fall Previews of the 60s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Promo for a mid-60s variety show starring Andy Williams. We get to see lots of musical guests such as Jose Feliciano, Donovan, and Aretha Franklin. Boy, this really brings back those 60s variety show memories.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Gorilla and the Maiden (extra on Night of the Bloody Apes/Feast of Flesh DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This starts with an exotic dancer whose dressed in clothes that one would expect her to strip, but she doesn’t. After quite a bit of hoochie-coochie, the film proper starts. Another exotic dancer in a skimpy belly dance costume is tormented by a guy in a very bad gorilla costume. Just what is it about these stripper-plus-gorilla films that brings on the snickers? Anyway, the big dumb ape manages to get the woman down to pasties and panties, even though she stabs him with a dagger she must keep handy for just such occasions. Then the other dancer comes back in a different costume and strips down to her teddy, said stripping involving only the removal of her skirt and gloves. As it sounds from the description, this film is quite silly.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Blood Donor – The Spinners (film #1 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]British PSA featuring a folk group called The Spinners, who all urge us to give blood in very charming British accents. They all do it themselves, quipping all the while. Fun to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
A for Andromeda #1 (film #1 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credit sequence for an early-60s British science fiction show that made Julie Christie a star. The credits have a nice Twilight-Zone-ish feel, with a Greek bust of a woman (probably Andromeda) superimposed over shots of deep space. Considering this was one of only a few clips of this show that was preserved, it has historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 3002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]One of the Apollo 13 astronauts tells us about an experiment they plan to do on the moon that involves using a large drill to––surprise!––drill holes in the lunar surface. This is probably a clip from the same film as Segment 3001––it even has the same film sprocket sound on the soundtrack.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Behind Your Radio Dial: The Story of NBC.This late-40s film gives the viewer a filmed tour of NBC studios at Radio City in New York, back when NBC was mainly a radio network. I love old-time radio, so I found this very interesting. We get to see radio stars such as Fred Allen or Fibber McGee and Molly performing, musical performances by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and the NBC orchestra, and the news being announced by H.P. Kaltenborn. Kaltenborn’s section on radio news is particularly fun, since he narrates it very bombastically. He also tells us that all news broadcasts were permanently recorded for posterity on wax transcription discs––wouldn’t you like to get ahold of that library! The film has a wistful quality, as its final section deals with the fledgling NBC television network, without even a hint of anticipation of the juggernaut of tv running over and killing network radio. A fascinating historic document of an entertainment medium that doesn’t exist anymore, that’s fu…
From Dawn to Sunset (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #2 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 2: Capitalist Realism CD-ROM (Voyager). Also, film #567 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]An idealistic portrayal of the "typical work day" of the typical worker at the Chevrolet plants in cities around the nation. First the all male workers kiss their wives goodbye and leave for work, while a chorus sings about "the beginning of a perfect day". Then they work for a little while (but not long). This "typical work day" happens to be payday, so there's a very long sequence of workers in each city where there's a Chevrolet plant getting paid and then going to the local stores and buying stuff. That's right––for each city you see a "Welcome to..." sign, hear the city's anthem sung over a few shots of the city's main attractions, then you see long lines of workers at the Chevrolet plant getting paid (they all s…
Casper, the Friendly Ghost (film #14 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]This was the original cartoon that inspired the Casper series, one of the treakliest things in the entire animation canon. Casper is a friendly little ghost who runs away from home when his family doesn't understand him. He tries to make friends but everybody is afraid of him. Finally, a couple of sticky-sweet children are too innocent to be scared and they befriend him. Unfortunately, their mother doesn't approve, that is, until Casper scares the evil mortgage collector away. It all ends happily with Casper being adopted by the mother of his new friends. I have a headache––I need to go listen to some Tom Waits for awhile.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Attitudes and Health.Marv is all bummed out because he didn't make the first team in basketball. He comes home to find out his older sister has taken sick after being passed over for a promotion at work. The doctor emerges from her bedroom and gives Marv and his mother a stern lecture about bad attitudes and how they make people sick, a problem that he believes affects over half of his patients! He makes some reasonable points about how excessive worry can cause health problems, but he's so self-righteous and overgeneralizing about it that you start to wonder if he overlooks serious maladies in his patients by being so quick to diagnose "bad attitudes". Marv, though, takes his talk to heart and starts having a "better perspective" on not making the team, planning to practice to improve his skills so he can make it next time (when you see his laughably bad ball-handling skills, you know exactly why he didn't make it this time). This is one of the most a…
Barque Sortant du Port (film #8 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some guys in a rowboat row around a stone pier where some women are standing. Another brief Lumiere slice-of-life film. An 1895 Lumiere film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Drive-In Movie Double Feature #71 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]This collection of drive-in ephemera is probably the most food-oriented of the series. There are lots of really short snack bar promos advertising a single item, and a wide array of treats, including more obscure ones such as snow cones and hot tamales. And it's the most nutritious, too (see the Nutrition Alert below)!
Highlights:
Nutrition Alert! This drive-in has more "nutritious" and/or "healthful" items than ever: ice cream is "healthful", popcorn is "nutritious and "healthful", and two promos claim the entire snack bar line is "nutritious"!
Prissy Fearless Fred says "I forgot my Toddy!"
Get your "satisfaction" fix with more hot coffee.
A genuinely amusing parody of movie trailer hyperbole used to advertise snacks: "Torrid Hot Dogs!! Action-Packed Popcorn!! Sizzling French Fries!!"

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdne…
Annual Parade, New York Fire Department (film #3 in America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915. Also, in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]First we get to see the backs of the bigwigs as they ascend the steps of the reviewing stand. Then we see row after row of firemen marching in various formations. Then we see lots of different horse-drawn fire wagons, including elaborate hook-and-ladders and huge steam pumpers. These are the highlight of the film for my money. There are also a few trucks in the mix, but they are vastly outnumbered by the horse-drawn wagons. It ends with the marching band, which we can’t hear because this is a silent film. If you want to get a good look at turn-of-the-century fire wagons, then this is your movie. A 1904 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Sheba Wore No Nylons (film #4 on Exploitation Mini-Classics, Vol. 2 (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]A brief male sexual fantasy set to music, featuring fake belly dancing, strange facial expressions, and a big fat bearded guy who looks like a Cossack in a Russian fantasy movie. Did this turn anybody on?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bufferin II(film #13 in the Commercials section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]Another fun Bufferin commercial, this one featuring a guy getting beat over the head with a drumstick, as well as the usual cutaway diagrams of the stomach. Maybe not quite as much fun as the first Bufferin commercial, but it will still bring a smile to your face.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Gags and Gals (film #579 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This exercise in female objectification is actually a lot of fun. There are three soundies here. The first, “Male Order,” features women a guy can purchase on approval, who arrive in shipping cartons and dance in his living room. The second, “At Your Service,” is all about how women, specifically carhops at drive-ins, live to serve men, even to the point of wearing skimpy uniforms and dancing on car hoods so that the male customers can look up their dresses. The third soundie, “Playmates,” features grown women dressed up and acting like little girls, while singing the familiar playground song. The titillating quality of this gets pretty creepy after awhile, even though it’s obvious that these are grown women, especially when they bend way over to peek into rain barrels, so we can get a good look at their undies. Again, these soundies are appalling, but still lively and a great deal of fun. “At Your Servic…
Amelia Earhart (film #4 in the 100 Years of Flight section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Newsreel footage of Amelia Earhart, part silent, part with sound. In the sound portion, her gender is emphasized repeatedly; she accepts this with style and good humor. An interesting clip from the history of flight.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bay of Pigs Fiasco (film #6 in the Cuban History section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]American newsreel clip announcing the Bay of Pigs Invasion. This was before the government officially admitted any responsibility for it, so it is reported as an invasion of “Cuban rebels,” and Adlai Stevenson categorically denies everything. That gives it quite a bit of historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Behind the Lens: A Camera Goes to College.This film starts out pretty interesting, as it shows us and tells us about special scientific kinds of motion picture photography, such as time-lapse photography and slow-motion photography. But since it is a Jam Handy Chevrolet film, it has to get around to cars eventually, and when it does, showing us how special photography is used by Chevrolet engineers to understand how cars withstand bumps in the road, it gets rather boring. Fortunately, though, it’s a short film, and that means the boring part is short, too.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Hollywood Dinosaur Chronicles (Rhino, 1990). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This documentary about dinosaurs in the movies is a lot like Dinosaurs! in many ways, though shorter, pared-down, and not nearly as much fun. There's not nearly as much here to interest ephemera buffs, and most of what there is can be found on Dinosaurs! (though mystery fans will want to check out a brief clip of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle talking about The Lost World––it's the only time I've seen him on film).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness:**. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The City of Little Men (recorded off of Turner Classic Movies). [Category: Public Service]Sentimental 30s film about Boys Town and the good work it does rehabilitating homeless boys. The beginning is a real tear-jerker, as a scruffy little boy and his dog show up on Father Flannigan’s doorstep and beg admission to Boys Town. The rest of the film gives a detailed portrait of the boy’s home in the 30s, and thus has quite a bit of historical interest. Father Flannigan himself appears in the film, which increases its historical interest. Of course, the portrait is idealized, as this was obviously designed to solicit contributions. Still, the story of Boys Town is pretty interesting and this film tells it pretty well.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Big Brass Ring (film #9 on Short 2: Dream (QuickBand Networks, 2000)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This is a scene from an Orson Welles script about a political candidate’s working relationship with a legendary expert adviser in the Democratic party who is also openly gay. In the scene, the elderly political adviser is interviewed by a tabloid reporter. This was basically made in order to sell a feature film project and it shows. I don’t think the scene really stands alone as a short. The story is so involved that without the proper context, it’s impossible to figure out what the characters are talking about. What you’re left with are rather typical Hollywood characters trying very hard to look cool and sophisticated. The political adviser seems to speak in witty, quotable turns of phrase, while the young, attractive, female reporter behaves flirtatiously, even though there is no reason for her character to do so. Again, with the enough context to be able to follow the story…
Annual Baby Parade, 1904, Asbury Park, NJ (in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]The beginning of this all-kids parade looks a little bit like other parade footage from this period, only in miniature, with tiny cops and soldiers in uniform. Then there’s a long stretch of very overdressed baby carriages. Actually, this is pretty fun to look at. It’s a wonderful little slice of life from another time. A 1904 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bufferin (film #12 in the Commercial section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]This classic 50s commercial features not only those essential cutaway diagrams of stomachs, but a very painful image of a guy’s head being used as the clapper of a bell. Yeah, that would give one a headache, I would think. Lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Fighten Femmes of France (film #510 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Two women in their underwear have a very poorly-acted catfight in this vintage stag film. Eventually, they both end up falling between the bed and the wall, ridiculously enough. This doesn’t seem like it appealed even to its intended audience, though perhaps their standards were low.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
City of Hope (film #324 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This very bombastically-narrated 30s film tells us all about the City of Hope, a huge tuberculosis sanatorium. It brings back the days when TB was a dread disease that baffled doctors and whose treatment usually involved long months of convalescence at a sanatorium in a remote area with “fresh air.” Such sanatoriums bit the dust when antibiotics were invented that cured TB. It’s a fascinating little piece of history, though, making this film pretty interesting. The bombastic narration makes it unintentionally funny in spots, especially the scene where the first sanatorium, which was literally a couple of tents, blows over in a windstorm. Mostly, though, this is about the many families and organizations who gave sizable donations to the City of Hope and had buildings named after them. Of course, it’s designed to get audience members to give till it hurts, as the narrator keeps reiterating that there is a long wait…
The Birth of Juvenile Delinquency (film #4 on Teenage Confidential (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Like As the Twig Is Bent, this film does a lot of hand-wringing about the effects of the war on our nation's youth. And like the other film, though it gives lip service to social factors such as working mothers and families moving away to find defense jobs, it basically places the blame for delinquency on the shoulders of parents. It does seem a little less self-serving than the other film, though. Watch for Johnny from Boy in Court show up in a brief cameo appearance. Also, watch for a scene that shows you what teenage stoners looked like back in the 40s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Beside Me (film #12 in the Indie section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This longer Indie film tracks the relationships of two college-age couples. Caleb, a real love-‘em-and-leave-‘em women-are-sex-objects type, has lots of sex with Willow, a party gal who stupidly doesn’t bother with birth control. He thinks it’s all just about sex until Willow gets pregnant, then he surprises himself by wanting to be a responsible father. His roommate, Trenton, a religious wait-until-marriage type, meanwhile, gets involved with Jacquelle, a woman who was sexually abused as a child and has major issues with men. I’m not sure what I think about this film, frankly. It’s actually a lot better than it sounds, but there are parts of it that are excruciatingly bad. While other parts seem like they should be bad, but aren’t. I guess there’s a real sincerity here that shines through all the stupid stuff that at least partially won me over. I do get the feeling that …
Apollo, Segment 3001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This is a clip from an “Aeronautics and Space Report,� announcing the Apollo 13 mission. This has historical interest as it is interesting to see the pre-launch perspectives on the ill-fated mission. The person who digitized this clip should be shot, though. The opening credits suddenly stop (with the sound that you get when you suddenly stop a record player’s motor and it slows to a stop) and then start up again from the beginning, reminding one of the repeated credit sequences in Monty Python’s “The Bishop.� And somehow the clackety-clack sound of the film projector was recorded on the soundtrack! This really brings back the old days of 16mm films and incompetent projectionists.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Behind the Freedom Curtain. Made by a manufacturer of voting machines, this film tries to convince us that voting machines are so much better and fairer than old-fashioned pencil-and-paper voting, mostly by constantly repeating that machines can’t make the mistakes people do. Ah, if it were only that simple, we wouldn’t have had that mess in the 2000 election. Actually, this is pretty well made and makes its points well, though it does tend to go on and on and on. It gives an interesting perspective on the problems of running elections, problems that still exist today. Its pontificating about “democracy” gets so overblown it’s campy in spots. But mostly this is pretty straightforward.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Freedom Highway (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #2 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 6: The Uncharted Landscape CD-ROM (Voyager)). Also, film #561 on Prelinger Archive. [Category: Industrial]This very 50s film features a group of nice 50s people who travel across the country from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. on a Greyhound bus. Instead of becoming totally exhausted and stressed-out by this cross-country bus trip (you weren't expecting reality, were you?), they all become quite chummy and some even find a sort of patriotic salvation in "seeing the country". Featured are Tommy Kirk as a Boy Scout who utters "gee whiz!" at everything, Angie Dickenson and football star Bob Roberts who fall in love during the trip and decide to get married right away (I'd like to see her explain that to her parents!), and Tex Ritter who drops by to sing a song about the Alamo. Spoilsport Morris Ankrum plays an embittered man whose only son was killed i…
Animal Act (in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is, as promised, an animal act, featuring a violin-playing baboon, a rope-jumping dog, and a mule that refuses to be mounted. This is really a great deal of fun, especially considering that you don’t run across such acts today. The baboon, in particular, is quite talented and fun to watch. A fun slice of early-20th-century entertainment. A 1919 Hans A. Spanute film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bruce Lee We Miss You (film #27 in the Trailers section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]More chop-socky action as Bruce beats up a bunch of Buddhist monks (I thought those guys were supposed to be pacifists) and lots of other people. Periodically, an old bearded monk looks on and smiles. I guess I’m not enlightened enough to get this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Bergen, Norway, etc. (film #96 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Silent home movie footage from the 30s of a family touring Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries and Russia. Despite the title cards, this has the true home movie feel, with shaking, ever-changing camera angles and seemingly random choice of subject matter. It does give you an idea of what it was like to tour pre-war Europe, especially Russia, which was hard to get into at that time. It drags after a bit, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Case of the Screaming Bishop (film #12 on Sherlock Holmes: The Early Years (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Hollywood]This very silly cartoon features Hairlock Combs, his assistant Garson, a leering, laughing, pretty disturbing maniac, and lots of silly British accents. It walks a fine line between being weird and being lame, and it never quite goes one way or the other. It's not really very funny in the ways that it's trying to be funny, but it's weird, and even campy, in ways that are unintentional. This makes it an interesting oddity.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Expose of the Nudist Racket (extra on The Beast That Killed Women/The Monster of Camp Sunshine DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Cheeky (in more ways than one) 30s short about nudism, in which the narrator rather sassily promotes its benefits while we see the usual footage of nudists frolicking in a nudist camp. This would be innocent fun, except that the narrator keeps ruining things by missing no opportunity to ridicule a fat woman, all while claiming that nudists accept all body types. That, and some of the rather “busty” camera angles, make this more of an exploitation piece than a serious discussion of the acceptability of nudism.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apa Tani Bleeding Tubes (in the Educational section of Open Video Project). [Category: Public Service]Silent footage of Asian native peoples performing some sort of bizarre ritual involving sucking blood out of tubes. Lots of natives are shown with tubes sticking out all over their bodies, including their faces. Since I don’t know the context of this, it’s pretty disturbing, though I’m sure the natives themselves thought of it as mundane. I don’t know if this practice is still being done today, but if it isn’t, this is a valuable historical record of it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Apollo, Segment 1003 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]Another clip from a pre-Apollo 11 documentary, probably the same one as in 1002. What the astronauts intend to do on the moon is described, over footage of the astronauts training on a simulated lunar landscape. Also, footage taken by unmanned lunar spacecraft is shown. Another mildly interesting bit of historical footage.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Behind the Bright Lights (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #199 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 30s film tells us how the huge lighted Chevrolet sign in New York City worked, including the part where letters crawl by spelling various advertising messages. It’s actually pretty interesting and well explained. Of course, I love old signs anyway so this is just up my alley.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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As Others See Us.This 50s manners film for high-schoolers gives us lots of garishly-colored scenes of 50s high school life, such as jostling through the halls, eating lunch (check out the selections and prices on the menu board!), and, yes, the prom. If you went to high school during the 50s, this should trigger flashbacks and nightmares; for all others, it's a real hoot.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Alphonse (in the Historical Section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]Two silly guys go into a bar and start making like the Goofy Gophers. “After you!” “No, after you!” “No, I wouldn’t think of it!” Etc., etc. Then Yosemite Sam comes in and makes them dance with his gun. Tarnation! I want the one silly guy’s checkered pants for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices, as well as my wardrobe. A 1903 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bruce Lee the Invincible (film #26 in the Trailers section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]Bruce Lee beats the crap out of some bullies who torment his girl. The guy should sell a body-building course with ads in comic books. Seriously, the fighting is pretty clever in this trailer.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Agricultural Cycles in Apa Tani Villages (in the Educational section of Open Video Project). [Category: Public Service]Silent footage from the 1940s of Asians tending crops in muddy fields which perhaps are rice paddies. This pretty much has historical interest only, but it does give a snapshot into a culture that is far from our own.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Abusive A-Bomb (film #114 in Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This movie stinks. OK, it’s not that bad. After all, it’s just a few minutes of what Legoland would be like after nuclear holocaust, and that can’t be pretty.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
Baron Munchausen's Dream (film #1 on Melies III: The Search for Munchausen (A-1 Video)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Baron Munchausen eats and drinks way too much and pays for it by having a weird, disturbing Meliesian dream. It took the director of Merry Frolics of Satan to do the "dream of a rarebit fiend" theme right. The film takes a bit of time to build up a head of steam, but once it does, look out, Baron! Dancing girls lead to demons lead to a trio of dandies poking him with pitchforks leads to a really scary dragon leads to a really disturbing and evil scene of a sick and twisted Man in the Moon and his tongue! By this time, you're ready to swear off of rich food forever! A classic Melies romp through the subconscious, though I'd hate to see what Freud would say about it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Apollo, Segment 1002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]Clip from a documentary about Apollo 11, made before the mission. The three astronauts are profiled, and we get to hear interview clips and watch them training. It’s kind of interesting to see a pre-mission point of view here, before anybody knew if the mission would be successful.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Excitable Red-Head (film #13 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LSVideo)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]The silliest chiropractic appointment I’ve ever seen. The “nurse” wears a uniform usually associated with French maids in the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog, the patient has a bunch of bizarre reflexes that cause the doctor injury, and it ends with the nurse and the patient giving each other rather unorthodox “adjustments”. More ridiculous than naughty, which is probably deadly for these sorts of films.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Drive-In Movie Double Feature #63 (Sinister Cinema). This one is a tad bit disappointing. It mostly contains the duller promos. And it gets docked 5 points for ending with an incredibly dull black-and-white 3 minute counter, complete with easy-listening soundtrack.
Highlights:
A Coca-Cola promo ends with a really cute parade of animated snacks marching in a circle.
Nutrition Alert! What's "nutritious"? According to the "Refreshment Quiz", the answer is "candy bars"!
Watch the kids from the Ubiquitous Family fight over a hot dog with really disgusting toppings!

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat (film #3 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]If you're looking for African-American racial stereotypes, look no further––this toon has 'em all. It also has a great jazz soundtrack and lots of energy. A sexy Lena-Horne-type jazz singer brings rhythm to Lazy Town, showing a mammy how to really get those clothes clean. Both quite appalling and quite fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Groucho and the Marx Brothers (Goodtimes, 1988). This collection of Marx Brothers ephemera is mildly interesting, more so if you're a Marx Brothers fan. It consists mostly of trailers from their movies, most of which are quite amusing. There's also a short clip from a newsreel featurette about a mini car race between Groucho, Harpo, and Jackie Coogan, a clip from a filmed wartime radio broadcast to the Marines featuring Groucho, and the complete, uncut 1949 tv pilot of Groucho's game show "You Bet Your Life" (reviewed seperately under "Early Film & TV").
Highlights:
In the trailer for The Big Store, the Marx Brothers announce their retirement from motion pictures and state that The Big Store is their "first farewell picture". Fortunately, they are persuaded not to retire by a stock footage crowd of screaming fans.
At the Circus features a "Colossal Congress of Stuff and Things!"
The trailer for Monkey Business is priceless. It fea…
Beef Rings the Bell (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #195 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This is a film about meat. About big honkin’ slabs of red meat. Beef, in particular. The first half is all about cattle raising, selling, and feeding. It has footage of the Omaha stockyards in their heydey, when they used to be the biggest in the world. Being from Omaha, this had some nostalgic value for me, as those stockyards no longer exist. The footage of a cattle auction is also mildly interesting. But it’s not until the second half of the movie that it really gets going. Then it becomes the most meat-intensive film you ever saw, featuring extensive, detailed footage of meat cutting, long refrigerated cases of shrink-wrapped packages of “rich, red meat,” billboards with giant steaks on them, and backyard barbecue footage straight out of the Big Boy Barbecue Guide (I also collect old recipe booklets), including tacky barbecue aprons and huge steaks ser…
Battle of Russia (film #7 in the WWII section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com). Also, tape #5 of the series WWII Special Edition (Madacy Entertainment, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This fifth and longest film of the "Why We Fight" series (it was made in two parts), documents the Russian resistance and victories against the Nazi invasion of their country. Russia was a powerful ally and had some of the earliest victories against the Nazis, so their story needed to be told. But unlike most of the other nations fighting the Nazis, the Soviet Union was definitely not a democracy, and most Americans already feared and hated Russian communism, so the filmmakers had a bit of a difficult sell. They did it by focusing on the military victories and the determination of the Russian people, and carefully sidestepping any political issues. Communism is not mentioned once, nor is the German-Russian Non-Aggression Pact (which Germany ended up breaking). And unlike the other …
R.I.P., Retromedia. Sniff! Sniff! And I just started reviewing that site...
Albany, NY Fire Department (in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]Before there were such things as fire trucks, kids, there used to be fire wagons. Yup, horse-drawn wagons that would rush to the fire! Some of them even had big steam-driven water-pumps on ‘em. They used to run down the street, one after the other, while everybody in town would watch ‘em. What, you don’t believe me? I swear it’s true! Just watch this film and see! Sheesh, the kids these days! A 1901 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bruce Lee in New Guinea (film #25 in the Trailers section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]This Chinese trailer for a Bruce Lee movie consists entirely of martial arts fighting action, with lots of “HAs!” on the soundtrack. I guess they cut out all the boring parts.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The City (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #326 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This classic New Deal public service film of the 30s contrasts city slums with “planned communities” such as Green Belt, Maryland. It does this in a very arty fashion, with skillfully edited montages of urban problems backed with a glaring, yet compelling, soundtrack by Aaron Copeland. Ultimately, it doesn’t really make its point very well, because it ignores the economic, social, and political problems that result in urban slums, attributing them entirely to planning failures. But it is a fascinating, historically valuable montage of life in the 30s, covering urban life, automation, roadside woes, and even fast food. My favorite scene is a bizarre montage of automated diner equipment and people eating at a frenetic pace. This is the sort of film that is ripe for mining for footage for a video project.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical In…
Ellis in Freedomland (Hollywood's Attic). When I saw the description of this one in the Movies Unlimited catalog, I knew I just had to have it, and when I got it I was not disappointed. This industrial film made by Westinghouse delivers a triple whammy of weirdness. The first part of the film tells the story of Ellis, a discouraged Westinghouse appliance salesman, and how he falls asleep in the department store he works for one evening and wakes up to find all the appliances talking to him––and not just talking, complaining about how he's been trying to sell them. The second part outlines the Westinghouse Freedom Fair––one of the most blatant examples of corporate coopting of women's desire for emancipation. And then it turns into another Design for Dreaming, as a harried housewife is whisked away from her messy kitchen by a Westinghouse salesman and taken to "Westinghouse Wives' Heaven", where women dress in frilly pinafores and dance ecstatically around app…
Every Saturday Night (film #12 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LSVideo)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Every Saturday night a nude woman takes a bath in a cinderblock bathroom, and we get to watch. That’s pretty much it, folks.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
California the Golden (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #158 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]This straightforward 30s travelogue about California is historically interesting for the view it gives us of California in the 30s. Perhaps the most dated aspect of it is that it was made by a steamship line, and it assumes we've taken a cruise through the Panama Canal in order to get there. Not very campy, but pleasant and watchable all the same.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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As Boys Grow.This 50s sex-ed film is very straightforward and informative about puberty and sex. It even covers––are you ready for this––how the sperm gets into the uterus! Thus, it was probably never shown in the vast majority of American classrooms. A friendly high school track coach answers any and all questions about sex and stuff that members of his team fire at him, even bringing along helpful, though not inappropriate, visual aids to some practices. He never even hints that sex is evil, does not mention any horrible diseases the guys could get from it, and tells them that masturbation is "normal at your age" and will not lead to blindness or sterility. Therefore, it is pretty safe to assume that he was fired at some point by some of the boys' parents. Such healthy and informative sex education has never been tolerated in the schools, not even today, making this film a real curiosity.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Ov…
The Barber Shop (film #7 on The Movies Begin, Volume One: The Great Train Robbery and Other Primary Works (Kino Video, 1994). Also, film #7 on The Art of Cinema Begins (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A man gets a nice shave and a haircut while two other patrons enjoy a joke in a men's magazine. Another early slice-of-life film. I want the sign that says, "THE LATEST WONDER: SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT FOR A NICKEL." An 1894 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Drive-In Movie Double Feature #58 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]Rip-Off!! This double feature's intermission is only seven minutes long, instead of the required ten minutes. It does have the Rico's Nachos promo, though, which is essential.
Highlights:
BUCKY BEAVER WARNING!! Well, not exactly. But the bizarre animated characters in the Rico's Nachos promo did cause my husband to exclaim, "They're relatives of Bucky Beaver!", which means they require a warning of some sort.
Now we want everybody to support their local P.T.A., and to make sure, we're going to give the announcement a psychedelic, amoebae-like background.
Other items for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices: the bizarre coffee machine from the coffee snack bar promo, and a really cool neon Coca-Cola clock from the Coca-Cola promo.
Try our one-line snack bar promos.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **** (gets docked a s…
Red Hot Riding Hood (film #4 on Cartoons for Big Kids (Turner Home Entertainment, 1989)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This cartoon has one of the all-time great beginnings: the characters from "Little Red Riding Hood" complain about having to do that hoary old tale one more time, so the animators change it to reflect modern sensibilities. This time, the wolf is of the Hollywood-and-Vine type, Grandma is a Mae-West-type proprietor of "Granny's Joint", and Red is a sexy nightclub singer. Add lots of great Tex Avery gags, and you've got one of the all-time classic cartoons. And I want for my museum the wolf's clapping and whistling machine and the sign that says, "Imagine that! No door!"
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Godzilla and Other Movie Monsters (Passport Video, 1998). This is a two-tape history of Godzilla, but obviously there's only so much you can say about Godzilla, so it ends up broadening its focus to include movie dinosaurs and giant monsters of all types, making it a lot like the Dinosaurs! set. Most of the clips are from feature films, though it does have the usual array of movie trailers and clips from early dinosaur films. So this is really only marginally ephemera, but it's pretty fun anyway. There are a lot of really creatively-edited montages of all kinds of footage, with lots of fun juxtapositions, such as when the narrator tells us that eventually the dinosaurs died out and we see a clip of a cartoon dinosaur floating up to heaven from "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur." And it does have the complete Bambi vs. Godzilla near the end of tape two (not that that's particularly hard to find). Giant monster fans should enjoy this quite a bit, non-giant monster fans …
The Battle of London (film #10 in the Documentary section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This British film rather breezily documents the London Blitz and the pluck of the Londoners in coping with the hardships of the bombings. It's historically interesting and fun to watch, but not especially deep. This has more nostalgia value than value as an historical document, though it was made at the time. A mildly interesting bit of WWII ephemera.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 1001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This is a short film about the Apollo XI mission, the first one to land a man on the moon. There’s mostly just footage of highlights of the mission, with radio transmissions to and from Mission Control and synthesizer music on the soundtrack. The synthesizer music gets rather annoying after awhile, but other than that, this is a nice little wrap-up of the most memorable space mission ever.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Beer and Art (film #10 in the Indie section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]A neurotic woman shares a poem she wrote with a coworker who ridicules her. She then goes psycho and tries to kill the coworker, but she can’t escape the vision of her stern writing teacher. I suppose you’re supposed to sympathize with the coworker, but I’m a bit neurotic myself and I root for the poet every time (though I will admit the poem is excruciatingly bad). This is pretty well done, but I don’t really get what the point of it is supposed to be. The fact that it was directed by a man doesn’t reassure me, either. Still, it’s better than much of the stuff in the Indie section of Movieflix.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Down & Out! (film #2 on The Educational Archives, Volume Four: On the Job (Fantoma, 2002)). [Category: Industrial]This safety film about fall prevention has one actor in it who is required to fall over and over and over again, poor shmoe. After awhile, you begin to wonder about the workplace safety conditions of this stunt man, that is, if you're not busy laughing at all his pratfalls.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: ***.
California Picture Book (film #157 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]This black-and-white, silent film from the 40s shows us a series of scenic views of things to see and do in California. That's it, really. It's sort of like a film version of one of those postcard strips, only in black-and-white. It does have some historical value, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Beatrice Foods News Reports from Around the World (film #191 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This early 60s film is pretty much what the title says––news reports from all over the world about Beatrice Foods’ various corporate subsidiaries. We get to see milk processing on a military base in Japan, a company that makes cookware and serving utensils for restaurants, a Belgian milk processing plant, and a bizarre underground storage facility near Kansas City. This is all narrated in a way that implies that its audience finds this all fascinating. And it is, in an odd sort of way, though you have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. Me, I like stuff about foods and the kitchen, so this held my interest. There’s lots of factory footage for folks who like that sort of thing. And the last segment, about the underground storage facility, is the weirdest. The employees of the facility have their lunches in a “Caveteria,” a name that is so lame it’s brilliant. But the…