Baggies Food Wrap Commercial (film #425 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Commercial]

Arrgghhhh!!!!! This commercial says it's presenting "the sounds of freshness," but actually it's the sounds of people chewing!! I hate hearing people chew!!

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

Boudoir Buccaneer (film #11 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LS Video)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

A naked lady trims a set of long underwear (with a pair of scissors she must have borrowed from Harpo Marx) into a stylish two-piece set from the Daisy Mae Collection. This is the first stag film I've seen where the woman starts out naked and gets dressed.

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

American Cowboy (film #352 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

A city-slicker reporter from Detroit spends a year on a cattle ranch in order to find out what the life of a cowboy is like. This film provides an interesting and quite complete snapshot of the life of cattle ranchers and ranchhands during the 50s. By that time, some aspects of ranching had been modernized, but others were virtually unchanged from the 19th-century days of the open range. A full year's worth of cowboy activities are shown, including branding, driving cattle to the upper ranges, rodeos, haying, and driving the cattle to market. Cowboy buffs and anyone geniunely interested in what real-life ranching is like (or was like during the 50s, at least), should enjoy this film immensely.

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

The Atomic Dilemma: Challenge of Our Age (film #4 on Atomic Memories (Video Yesteryear)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This short, possibly incomplete film documents an atom bomb test in the Utah desert in which a model town called "Survival City" was built and nuked. The city contained fully furnished houses, complete with mannequins and real food. There's lots of striking, somewhat surreal scenes of the houses blowing up, mannequin parts flying everywhere. It's similar in feel to the crash test scenes in Safety Belt for Susie. An oddity.

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

The Artwork in Its Age of Mechanical Reproducibility (film #15 in the Film & Video section of Illegal Art). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

A large variety of FBI warnings flash by to the strains of "Mack the Knife." The concept of whether or not this video maker will be prosecuted for copying all those FBI warnings gets aburd with only a moment's thought. And adding "Mack the Knife" gives the project a nice Kovacsian feel. And the FBI warnings themselves count as ephemera flotsam and jetsam.

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

Chasing OJ (track #22 on Stay Tuned: Television's Unforgettable Moments DVD (Garner Creative Concepts, 2002)). [Category: News]

This track documents perhaps the most famous tv car chase in history––the real-life chasing of O. J. Simpson's Ford Bronco by the police after he was charged with his wife's murder. Unfortunately, the chase was somewhat less than exciting. Interviews with the first reporters to find Simpson's vehicle add interest somewhat, but I guess you really had to be there with this one.

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

Atom Bomb (film #408 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Newsreel clips from the 50s heyday of atmospheric atomic testing. Some of the more famous test are shown here, including the tests at Bikini Atoll and the Nevada tests where houses of various types were nuked. Lots of spectacular blast footage here, as well as footage of soldiers and sailors being exposed to radiation. Wonder how many of them died of cancer later?

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

American Thrift (film #5 on Lifestyles, U.S.A., Vol. 1 (Something Weird, 2000). Also, film #375 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This third General Motors "American" film puports to be a tribute to the "Woman American" and her thrifty ways. Basically, the point being made is that Americans are so darn thrifty, especially American women, and our country thrives because of it. The problem with this idea is that this was made in the early 60s, a time when throw-away consumer culture had pretty much taken over, and economic wealth was (and is today) not based on thrift, but on spending, spending, and more spending. The emphasis on savings in the film will particularly make you snicker. Well-dressed wives are shown carefully saving for the things they want in little budget envelopes, not whipping out credit cards like in reality. The point of all of this is not clear––you'd think that a big company like GM would make a film singing the praises of spending and credit instead of saving and thrift––unless it was to lull the indebted public into a false sense of security, at least until the bills come. Apart from that, this film is a wonderful slice of idealized early-60s middle-class life, complete with spotless homes, perfect families, people dressing up for church, women and girls wearing little white gloves when they go shopping, and even a token black family. It's not nearly as sexist as you'd expect given its theme––it's even admitted that some women have careers (though these are made possible by innovations in household appliances) and some families can actually afford to send their daughters to college! It's also much less car-oriented than the other "American" films, perhaps because cars were more associated with men at the time.

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

America for Me (film #341 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

A woman gives up her teaching career and her hope of earning a master's degree (for which she is writing a "theme" instead of a thesis––I wonder if there are book reports involved, too?) in order to marry a guy from Texas that she meets on a Greyhound bus. Of course, said bus exists in a 50s Jam Handy universe, where every passenger is pleasant, white, and middle-class, and there are no stinky guys, but that only makes it slightly less appalling. More appalling is the fact that everyone the woman meets tries their level best to get her interested in the cowboy, even though it's obvious that she can't exchange two words with him without feeling waves of disgust. Even more appalling is the fact that this peer pressure sinks in after the guy leaves––you can gauge the woman's slow, tragic slide into total mind control by the way her fashion sense, which was no great shakes to begin with, deteriorates throughout the movie. It's enough of a shock to the eyes in the beginning to see the woman's baby-blue eyeglass frames, which are a size usually associated with clowns and novelty stores, and shocking red lipstick that was applied with a trowel, but by the end of the film she is reduced to donning an artificial rose that is the size of the average head of cauliflower, and wearing a black dress with huge red polka-dots, a red hat that matches her lipstick, and little white gloves. And I don't even have any fashion sense, so it must be bad if I mention it! This is not the most appalling thing about the movie, though. The most appalling thing is after the woman throws her future away for the sake of Tex the Drifter, the bus driver, and then the entire bus, breaks into song. Don't say I didn't warn you about this one.

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

Bargain Madness (recorded off of Turner Classic Movies). [Category: Hollywood]

30s housewives battle over bargain merchandise as if it all was the Cabbage Patch version of Tickle Me Elmo. A narrator makes fun of them, but he saves his biggest taunts for a fat lady who tries on girdles who are too small for her. This is much too sexist for today's audiences, though we've hardly outgrown the illness being depicted. It is an amusing snapshot of 30s culture, though.

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

The Alphabet Conspiracy (Rhino, 1991). [Category: Educational]

This Bell Science film introduces the viewer to the science of linguistics, a topic not widely known to the general public, in the partly-animated, slightly silly, slightly trippy Bell Science way. Judy, a schoolgirl with too much English homework to do, falls asleep at her desk and dreams that Hans Conreid as the Mad Hatter tries to involve her in a conspiracy to destroy the alphabet. Before he can get too far, though, friendly old Dr. Frank Baxter, a.k.a. Bunson Honeyd...I mean Dr. Linguistics, comes along and takes Judy under his wing, telling her just about everything she needs to know about language and then some, with the help of animated segments and film clips. Much of the material is quite interesting and even the dry stuff is presented in an interesting way. Conreid is a lot of fun and I only wish his speech patterns had been analyzed by Dr. Linguistics. Like most Bell Science films, this is a lot of fun. As well as being incredibly populuxe and containing the benign presence of Dr. Frank, the film has incredibly huge, clunky-looking "state-of-the-art" computer technology and one of the most fake beatniks in film history (though he's overshadowed when Dr. Frank himself starts talking in beat lingo). The film is both campy and genuinely engaging, which is a great combination for film ephemera. Every educational collection needs at least a few Bell Science films.

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

Aurora Stunt and Drag Race Set Commercial (film #416 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Commercial]

Mildly cute commercial from the 60s for a Hot-Wheels-type racing car set featuring two boys talking in awed tones about same. One of the boys seems to have a cute speech impediment. I think I vaguely remember seeing this one on tv as a kid.

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

Blonde (film #26 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Short, silent stag film of a blonde stripper who takes her undies off for our pleasure, but leaves her garter belt and stockings on. She's also careful not to show us her naughty bits, though she is topless. Actually, this is fairly erotic, more so than this sort of thing usually is.

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

Ask Me, Don't Tell Me.

This film documents the Youth for Service project in San Francisco during the 50s; a project that recruited youth gangs to do various community service projects, usually involving construction, maintenance, or environmental work. The project itself looks quite successful in channeling the gangs into constructive activity; one wonders if it is still going on today and if not, why not. But beyond that, this film is a wonderful document of 50s gang life and teen culture. Gang members narrate certain parts of the film themselves, using almost unintelligible gang lingo. We get to see inner city youth in their own environment, hanging out at various places and amusing themselves in various ways, both acceptable and not acceptable. A whole host of gang jackets and insignia are shown and the film even has a cool homegrown rock-and-roll soundtrack. The adult narrators speak about the youth in surprisingly respectful terms, yet they are not overly idealistic about their project. Their attitude is refereshingly free from either fear or pity. Overall, this is one of the most realistic and best juvenile delinquent films I've ever seen.

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

Arrivee des Congressiates a Neuville sur Saone (film #5 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Some people disembark a riverboat. Obviously made in the days when film was so new and exciting that people would watch anything. An 1895 Lumiere film.

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

And the Curtain Closed (film #4 in the Indie Section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

A young man waits anxiously for the results of his HIV test and we get to hear his innermost thoughts, which tell us that his possible exposure was due to cheating on his wife. Talk about regrets. This is rather gutwrenching to watch, yet my empathy was undercut somewhat by the fact that the guy seems so priveleged and his transgression was an act of gross irresponsibility. It also is rather obvious in spots. Still, it does stir some emotion, which is more than I can say for a lot of the other Indie films on Movieflix.

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

California State Highway 101 Opening (film #1808 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: News]

Silent newsreel footage of 20s California bigwigs cutting the ribbon on Highway 101, otherwise known as the Bayshore Highway. There's not even much historical value here, as much of the footage is washed out and what there is is mostly self-congratulatory footage of bigwigs anyway.

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

The Army Nurse (film #393 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This excellent film from WWII is a tribute to the army nurses who worked tirelessly at the front and at home to care for wounded soldiers. Their experiences are shown in a complete way, from basic training to shipping out to long hours on duty to taking up and putting down field hospitals to using their combat helmets for all kinds of household chores to recreational activities to writing home. We get a real appreciation for how hard they worked and how they really helped ease the suffering of the sick and wounded. This film is an excellent historical document of one aspect of the war that should not be forgotten.

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

Classic Sci-Fi Trailers, Vol. 4 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]

Even more science fiction movie trailers, most from the 50s, with a few from the 60s and 70s. More campy fun. Ends with the trailers for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, which is fitting, somehow.


Highlights:


  • The trailer for Invasion of the Body Snatchers features Kevin McCarthy as a raving lunatic shouting, "You're next!!" A must.
  • Bride of the Monster is not only "Horrorific and All New!", but "You'll Never Believe It!" I certainly didn't when I saw it.
  • Creature With the Atom Brain is supposedly "based on scientific fact". This assumes an awfully loose definition of either "based on" or "scientific fact" or both.
  • The trailer for I Was a Teenage Frankenstein features a scene that is identical to a scene in the trailer for How to Make a Monster.
  • Gimmick Alert! The Fabulous World of Jules Verne was filmed in Mystamation. The Alligator People is in Screaming Horrorscope! The trailer for The Angry Red Planet repeatedly touts its Cinemagic process, which is really just a red filter in the camera lens.
  • Seeing the trailers for The Fly and Return of the Fly back to back really shows how much higher class the first film was than its sequel.
  • I learned from the trailer for King Kong vs. Godzilla that Godzilla has the proverbial brain the size of a walnut, "while Kong is a thinking animal."
  • The trailer for The Green Slime (pronounced "Greeeeeeennnnn Sliiiimme!") features a little bit of the outrageous faux Jimi Hendrix theme song.
  • Flesh Gordon, though "a parody of yesterday's superheroes", is "not to be confused with the original Flash Gordon."
  • Msties, take note: contains the trailers for Bride of the Monster, The Astounding She-Monster, and The Black Scorpion.

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 ...