The Antiques Toadshow (film #4 in the Indie Section of Movieflix ( [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This parody of "The Antiques Roadshow" would have probably been a lot funnier if it had been written by somebody over the age (or mental age) of 20. As it is, one segment makes fun of dumb blondes, one segment makes fun of old women, and one segment makes fun of people from South America. This would be offensive but it's just way too lame. And where are all the toads?

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

ABC News Good Morning America (film #2 on Television Archive). [Category: News]

Why has a recent episode of "Good Morning America" been preserved on the internet? Well, the date of broadcast was 9-11-01––does that give you a clue? The Television Archive contains streaming videos of 9-11 "we interrupt this program" footage from around the world. This 30-minute clip of "Good Morning America" is mostly ordinary and uneventful: a veterenarian talks about special pet food that increases the lifespan of dogs and cats, the lead actor of "The Mind of a Married Man" talks about the premiere of that show, the weatherman makes silly comments about audience members (this segment just screams "slow news day"), Sarah Ferguson talks about Weight Watchers, cut to commercial. And then the biggest news story in years breaks. This doesn't happen until about 3/4ths of the way through the clip, so be patient. This is real "we interrupt this program" stuff, as the GMA hosts are totally confused about what has just happened and are flailing around to find things to say. They make contact with an ABC reporter on the scene, who tells them he heard the initial explosion and is sure it wasn't a prop plane that crashed into the building, but thinks it might have been a missle. This is exactly the sort of thing I really want to collect for the News category––breaking news stories exactly as they were originally broadcast. The Television Archive deserves a lot of credit for preserving this stuff. Unfortunately, the site is rather undependable––sometimes you can watch the footage and sometimes you can't. I encourage readers who are unsuccessful with the archive to keep trying at other times. Eventually, you'll pick a day when the site is working properly and the footage is worth the effort.

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

An Answer (film #385 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

JFK, along with LBJ, members of Congress (is that Gerald Ford having breakfast with the enlisted men?), NATO representatives, and other bigwigs, inspects the Navy and Marines, who do their best to give him the best show possible. Military buffs will probably enjoy this, as it contains lots of ships, planes, and things blowing up, but others will probably find it rather dull, though there is some eerie footage of JFK riding in an open car. And it does have historical value as a document of state-of-the-art military hardware and techniques from the early 60s.

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

Life Looks Back (Goodtimes, 1989). [Category: News]

Another "photo album" of news-bites, coincidentally starting just about where Headline Stories of the Century leaves off––early 60s––and going on through the 70s and 80s. This time it's tv news footage we're seeing, but it just isn't as interesting as the other tape, mainly because they focus on the big news stories instead of the silly pop culture stuff of the other tape. And they deal with each story so briefly that it really doesn't tell you anything new about it. Only of marginal interest.

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

Alaska's Silver Millions

Millions of salmon, that is. This well-made film, sponsored by the American Can Company and narrated by "the glacier priest," first gives an overview of Alaska's geography, then shows us the life cycle of the salmon from birth to spawning, then shows how the salmon are caught and canned in Alaska's biggest pre-oil industry. It's part travelogue, part nature documentary, and part industrial film, and all three parts are quite well done and interesting. Some of the more spectacular scenes include glaciers breaking apart, salmon fighting their way upstream, thousands of salmon being caught in huge nets and traps, and the amazing, fully-automated canning process, where salmon go from live ocean fish to canned food product in the space of 12 hours. This film has a great deal of historical value and is also one of the better factory-tour-type industrial films. Corporate propaganda is kept to a minimum, probably because the visuals speak for themselves.

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

American Harvest.

This slick, GM-sponsored film, part of the series which produced American Look, at first seems to be a tribute to farmers and miners and all others who produce raw materials. But there's something a little off about the tribute--corn is for making plastics and synthetic rubber, sugar is for carbon and lampblack, cattle are for producing leather--none of these raw materials seem to be for the purposes we usually think they are for. And then it becomes clear after awhile--these are all materials that are used to make cars. And the uses the auto industry makes of these materials are shown to be the only really important uses. Just about when we figure this out, the film turns into a sort of 50s version of Master Hands, only with much less effective visual imagery and lots of bombastic narration to tell us what we're supposed to think. And what we're supposed to think is that what's good for General Motors is good for the country. This becomes all too clear in the final segment of the film, in which we get to see how much the automobile has changed our lives and how wonderful it all is. I mean, isn't it great that we get to go to drive-ins and eat in the car instead of going to eat at a stuffy old sit-down restaurant? Or that rural children are bused to large consolidated schools with lots of other children instead of walking to small one-room schoolhouses? Or that boring old downtown business districts have been replaced with shiny new shopping malls in the suburbs? There's a large dose of the kind of corporate religion spouted in Round and Round, too--the word "interdependent" is used in practically every sentence. This film is rather boring and ordinary on the surface, but the more you think about it, the more appalling it becomes.

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

Balloon Land (film #20 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999). Also, film #10 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot, Volume 3: Things That Go Bump in the Night (Kino Video, 1993)). [Category: Hollywood]

It doesn't get more "toony" than this, and that's great. Imagine a land where everybody is a balloon. Who would be their arch-enemy? Pincussion Man, of course! A delightful example of 30s wacky, rubbery animation at its best.

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

Better Reading

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 ...