Ban Roll-On (film #1 in the Commercial section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Commercial]

Here's a little historical gem--a commercial that documents the introduction of roll-on deodorant. You can tell because they have to explain what it is and how it works. It also features a dainty 50s woman telling you that Ban is "safe for your finest clothes" and a bunch of statuesque figures of nice-looking people who may need deodorant (tennis players, dancers, etc.). A nice piece of 50s history.

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

Artist's Paradise (extra on Night of the Bloody Apes/Feast of Flesh DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

A bunch of pretty naked ladies bathe in a chilly stream until a gorilla chases them away. Well, what did you expect?? OK, I wasn't expecting the gorilla, but I guess they had to have some way to end it.

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

Around the World in New York (film #82 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This film documents some of the various ethnic neighborhoods in New York City, making the claim that you can go "around the world" without ever leaving the city. It is a viable presence considering the huge variety of ethnic groups with a presence in the city, even today. Mostly this film is interesting, though, for the glimpse it gives us of New York's ethnic neighborhoods in the 1940s.

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

Agricultural Aviation (film #30 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

We're talking crop-dusting, folks. Planes and more planes and helicopters, too, spraying chemicals on everything in sight. Like Crow says in the msting of The Truck Farmer, "There's nothing we can't spray!" The mst3k gang would have had a field day with this one, especially when they get to the part about tobacco farming. This is one to take to your next msting party. Just make sure there's no organic food fanatics coming––it would give them a heart attack!

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

Arctic Giant (film #3 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]

This is one of the better Superman cartoons. A tyranosaurus rex is found frozen in a block of ice in the Arctic. It is brought to New York City, where it is put on display in a museum. Unfortunately, New York is also the home of bungling Lois Lane, who, as usual, precipitates an accident that causes the dinosaur to get thawed out. Once thawed, it comes alive and starts rampaging the city in a most Godzilla-like way. Fortunately, Superman comes to the rescue. Visually, this cartoon is stunning, with its Art-Deco-inspired design, odd camera angles, and urban machinery that dwarfs the humans. But you want to slap Lois Lane after awhile––there seems to be no bad situation that she can't make worse.

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

Asphyxiated Heart (film #5 in the Indie Section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

I thought I was doing this whole film ephemera thing so I wouldn't have to watch stupid romances like this. At least it's only a few minutes long, which gives it an edge over most films of this ilk. But they still could have cut quite a few seconds out of the disgusting kiss scene and had a better film for it.

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

Alco-Beat (film #3 on The Educational Archives, Volume Three: Driver's Ed DVD (Fantoma, 2002)). [Category: Educational]

A bunch of folks are liquored up, then given a driving test, which they miserably fail, but they don't really care. All to prove that you shouldn't drive if you've had a few. This is a surprisingly wimpy film. The worst consequence of drunk driving is shown to be a few dented fenders, or, horror of horrors, having to take a sobriety test in front of a huge crowd of sneering onlookers. Considering the gore level of other films of the period, this film was probably a welcome relief to its audience.

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

The Battle of the Sexes (track #32 on Stay Tuned: Television's Unforgettable Moments DVD (Garner Creative Concepts, 2002)). [Category: News]

This documentation of the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match is a bit long on commentary and short on footage. Granted, you do need to provide some backstory for those who don't remember, or are too young to remember, this incredible moment in sports hype. But I wish they had included a little bit more of the actual match.

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

Adelante Cubanos (film #25 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Industry! Working to make the world safe for...uh, communism. This 1959 Cuban film looks no different from any American industrial film of the period. It might seem more different to me if I understood Spanish, which I don't. Visually, it all seems to be about industry cranking out more and more consumer goods so consumers can spend, spend, spend. All for the good of communism, of course. A weird twist on "we have met the enemy, and he is us."

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

Alice in Wonderland (film #1 on Alice in Wonderland/Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp DVD-R (Grapevine Video)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Somebody went to an awful lot of trouble back in 1915 to create this adaptation of the classic Lewis Carroll children's story. The costumes are wonderful, the acting is good, and the story is followed pretty faithfully. Some key scenes from the book are left out (such as the Mad Tea Party), but it's unclear whether or not footage has been lost (I think it probably has). Other than the possible lost footage, the print is in excellent condition. Overall, this is one of the best film adaptations of Alice I've ever seen, and that's saying something for a film made back in 1915. A 1915 American film.

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

Classic Commercials, Vol. 1 (Madacy Entertainment, 1998). [Category: Commercial]

I got this series from the $2.99 bin at Best Buy. This tape has mostly commercials from the 50s and they're practically all kinescopes, which means the video quality is not very good. But on the plus side there's a really fun assortment here with a number of really great ones, plus the tape turns out to be a little over 50 minutes long when it says only 30 minutes on the package. Not a bad deal for $2.99 really, especially if you love dancing cigarettes, as there's a whole slew of 'em at the beginning of the tape. This tape runs heavily in the animation department in general, which is just fine with me, as I love cute animated characters. The commercials seemed to be grouped into categories which could be labeled Cigarettes & Tobacco Products, Household Cleaning Products, Drugs & Personal Hygiene Products, Food, and Beer & Wine, with a motor oil commercial thrown on at the end. All in all, it's a fun assortment from the 50s.


Highlights:


  • "Here's a man who smokes Marlboro cigarettes. What kind of a man is he?" From the looks of the commercial, he seems to be a crazed loner on the order of Charles Whitman.
  • Watch a kindly uncle teach a kid to smoke in the Robert Burns cigar commercial!
  • Watch Manners the Miniature Butler solve one of the most vexing problems of our time: the problem of paper napkins slipping off peoples' laps.
  • Watch the birth of the psychedelic era in a 50s Band-Aid commercial!
  • Watch Arthur Godfrey search in vain for a bit of chicken in a bowl of Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup!
  • Watch some proto-Muppets advertise Wilkins Instant Coffee.

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

Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see ...