America's Call to Arms (film #1 on Industrial Incentive Films (Vintage Video). Also, film #12 on WWII V for Victory War Bonds & Rallies Show (Something Weird, 1996)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Industry! Working to make the world safe for democracy! America gears up for World War II and this film shows all the details with a gung-ho spirit. When all is said and done, it's pretty much what you'd expect. It's fairly interesting from a historical perspective, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Action at Anguar (film #1 in the WWII Section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This film, directed by Frank Capra, documents a Marine invasion on the Pacific Island of Anguar. The story is told from the point of view of the GIs, which makes it far more interesting and human than most films of this type. We get a good idea of what it must have been like to be a GI loaded aboard a crowded ship and going to an unknown location to face who knows what. They show lots of footage of what the GIs did to amuse themselves, including surfing in Hawaii (and wooing the local women), having band concerts, and jitterbugging. They even include scenes of the little-known hazing rituals that happen when a ship crosses the equator. I don't want to know what's in that ladle of liquid being force-fed to some poor sap, that the narrator tells us is "not beer." This is one of the better World War II films––too bad Movieflix only shows us eight minutes of it!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
ADT: When Every Minute Counts (film #27 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]A fire chief and a police chief do their level best to convince us that we should all protect our businesses with ADT fire and burglar alarm systems, and they do a pretty good job of it, too, addressing all of our possible objections through the voice of the narrator. Since this is a well-made film, it ends up not as campy as it sounds, though. Police and fire department buffs should enjoy the film, though. Note: The film is sanitized by Modern Science for your protection.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Animal World (Mad Monster Video). [Category: Hollywood]This is supposed to be a documentary about animal life, but it's made by Irwin Allen, so you have your doubts right there. Actually, I think Allen came upon a bunch of stock nature footage and realized that it contained all the sex and violence any expolitation filmmaker could ask for. And where the footage doesn't supply it, there's always narration––like any good reporter, Allen never lets truth stand in the way of a good story. As a last resort, he tries to supply comedy by giving the action on screen lame sitcom plots. So overall, when it's not lurid, it's silly, and when it's not silly, it's lame. Still, the footage itself is often quite interesting, often featuring some of the odder members of the animal kingdom.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Age of Turmoil (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oClBRCJeKAg). [Category: Educational]This 50s film tries to help parents understand the psychological development of teenagers, by showing the Friday evening activities of six avereage specimens. We watch them go through their evenings and experience very minor problems, while the narrator gives a constant stream of interpretation and information. Some of it seems fairly accurate and some of it is less so. Some comments seem downright unsympathetic and judgemental such as the assertion that teens spend "hours in useless activity" or that one girl's dream to be a ballet dancer is totally unrealistic. Being a 50s film, there is a charming naivete about it. The "problems" these teens have seem miniscule compared with the problems of today's adolescents. Of course, other films of this period let us know that this was probably idealistic even for the 50s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp ["Aladin ou la Lamp Merveileusse"] (film #14 on The Movies Begin, Volume Three: Experimentation and Discovery (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]The traditional tale is told in about 10 minutes, with surprisingly elaborate costumes and sets for the time. The print is hand-tinted in garish colors––it looks like the tinter had tons of red and yellow to spare, only a little bit of watered-down green, and no blue at all. Still, the hand-tinting does increase the other-worldly fantasy quality of the film. The genie appears in several different guises––sometimes an imp, sometimes a half man/half bat, and one time as what must of been the earliest incarnation of the Jolly Green Giant on film. The story is not too difficult to follow for a film of its time, even though the title cards are in French (though it helps if you're already familiar with the folk tale). A 1905 Pathe Freres film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Anatomy of a Murder Premier Story (film #1149 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Commercial]This is a promotional newsreel about the premier of the movie Anatomy of a Murder. The premier took place in Detroit because the movie was shot in Michigan's upper penensula. Other than some mild historical interest about Michigan, this is pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Cartoons Celing Commercials, Vol. 2 (Ed Finn, 1991). [Category: Commercial]Volume 2 features more animated commercials and more pitches by cartoon stars. This one is not quite as fun as Volume 1––there just aren't as many good moments. Gets 25 extra points for the same stuff I gave points for in Volume 1.
- "Apple Jacks will not be sold to bullies!" Oh yeah? I would wonder how many kids took foolish risks and got beaten up because of this commercial, except I heavily doubt any kid bought this.
- BUCKY BEAVER WARNING!! Yes! For only an empty Ipana Toothpaste carton, you can get your own Bucky Beaver pin-up! I was just imagining a certain spouse of mine whose room this would look swell in, when unfortunately they announced the offer expired in 1956. So I had to get him a copy of Curse of the Demon instead.
- "Beefaroni!! Beefaghetti!!" If you're too young to know what Zorak and Moltar were arguing about, you need this tape.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Better Reading . Teenager Harold Wilson has a problem—he can’t read for (expletive deleted). So he has to spend all his free time studying ...
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...
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...
Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things . Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers t...