Bicentennial Celebration (film #4 in the Patriotism in America section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]A short clip of silent raw tv news footage of various Bicentennial celebrations that took place on July 4, 1976. A little carousel riding, a little watermelon eating, a little Uncle Sam, a little fireworks, a little hippies in sandals listening to an outdoor concert, and you're done.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Boo! (extra on Frankenstein DVD (Universal, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]Now this is a really fun and unusual short. Somebody at Universal took footage from several of its classic horror films, cut and pasted it together, and dubbed in a new silly soundtrack about how lobster gives you nightmares. This was back in the 30s, when the Universal horror films they stole footage from were at their height of popularity, making this even more of an oddity. Great fun and an excellent extra to throw on the Frankenstein DVD. Kudos to Universal for digging this up.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Amphetamines: Case Study (film #8 on The Educational Archives, Volume One: Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2001)). [Category: Educational]A 60s speed freak tells us what it's like to be a 60s speed freak, using lots of cool druggie lingo like "rap" and "wired." The scene of him trying to fix radios while high somehow reminds me of Dick York and his radios in Shy Guy. All that's included is this self-narrated segment about his feelings while on speed, making me think that this might be an excerpt rather than a whole film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
American Women: Partners in Research (film #135 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film, sponsored by Corning Glass, is purportedly about market research in consumer products, but it's really one long, oppressive collection of gender-role stereotypes. It starts with a campy sequence of head shots of housewives expressing their preferences, though for what, we don't know. Then our manly host Chet Huntley appears and over scenes of women shopping and drinking coffee in a kitchen says, "These women are doing research." Chet then tells us all about how companies like Corning are using the opinions of women to design household products, in a tone similar to one an animal behaviorist might use when presenting his paper on the social behavior of some rare species of jungle fauna. He does this while stroking a large phallic-looking rocket nose cone on his desk, and he is careful to specify that all the designers and engineers are MEN. He also mentions that although they are all great designers, all their hard work could come to naught because "women have minds of their own." Then we get to see the step-by-step process Corning uses to design a new coffee percolator. This includes lots of fun scenes of industrial machinery exposing Corningware dishes to various kinds of abuse. The only women employees shown are one woman whose job it is to test the coffee pot to see if it makes coffee that meets the standards of the Coffee Institute, and, of course, the "girls" in the test kitchen. All these women probably got home economics degrees from Iowa State College. In the end, the percolator is put to the ultimate test by being offered for sale in a department store. Husbands are informed that due to the sophisticated mind-control, er, I mean, "market research" techniques by Corning, their wives will demand the coffee pot despite all logic. This film is a must-see for a "ladies night" of msting––you hardly know where to start with it. Though no one instance of sexism is particularly jaw-dropping, it has a cumulative effect that just doesn't quit.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Attack on a China Mission (film #35 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]This film was a recreation of an actual event which took place during the Boxer Rebellion in China. A happy European family frolics in the front yard of a Victorian home when they are assaulted by a few Chinese rebels in traditional garb wielding swords. The family runs indoors in fright. Suddenly a huge group of European soldiers armed with guns appears. They kill the Chinese rebels with dispatch but go on firing at the house for some reason. One wonders on the accuracy of this recreation. A 1900 James A. Williamson film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Classic Sci-Fi Trailers, Vol. 8 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]Some more trailers from science fiction movies from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Lots of giant Japanese monsters on this one, plus both The Thing With Two Heads and The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant! Gets 5 extra points for throwing in some drive-in ephemera.
- Gimmick Alert! Teenage Caveman was filmed in Superama! Godzilla vs. the Thing is in Eye-Jolting Color and Terrorscope!
- Island of Lost Women stars John Smith!
- War Between the Planets is "great family film fare from Fanfare!"
- The Navy vs. the Night Monsters was released by the Standard Club of America. Cyborg 2087 was released by Feature Film Corp. of America. Such memorable names!
- "Boys! Here's a chance to see if your GHOUL friend can take it!" Yup, it's another great spook show promo for the Giant All-Color Spook-a-Thon.
- Mysteries of the Gods gives you William Shatner and Eric Von Daniken's theories all in one movie! How can you miss?
- At the end of the tape, Sinister Cinema thanks Steve Bishop for some of the trailers. My guess is that Steve was responsible for all the giant Japanese monster trailers, which are in truly stunning condition. Thanks again, Steve.
- Msties, take note: contains the trailer for Teenage Caveman.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
How to Undress (film #3 on Exploitation Mini Classics, Vol. 1 (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This most ridiculous example of a "Goofus and Gallant" film purports to teach wives how to undress in front of their husbands. Slinky Ethel is compared with fat Trixie, which allows the smarmy narrator to drool over one and humiliate the other. Of course, the real purpose of this film is to have a scene of a pretty woman stripping, which makes me suspect that very few women saw it in its day. Appalling.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Ed Sullivan Show (film #1 on Toast of the Town (Shokus Video)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This 1956 episode of "The Ed Sullivan Show" is a real hodge-podge from the days when tv was supposed to be for one mass audience. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz plug their movie Forever Darling, Desi and the Ames Brothers sing the title song from same (with Lucy trying to butt in, as usual), the Ames Brothers go on to do some impressions of 50s pop singers, Rodgers and Hammerstein are interviewed and the Broadway cast of Pipe Dream (one of the lesser Rodgers & Hammerstein efforts) sings some songs from the show, Orson Welles does a scene from King Lear, Ed introduces some celebrities in the audience, and ends up not having enough time for a rather lame ventriloquist to perform. Most of the stuff is only mildly entertaining, but it does have a real 50s feel, giving you an education in what 50s audiences liked to see on tv. The most appalling part is the Pipe Dream sequence––despite the assertion on the show that this show was incredibly popular and sold out the first night, it seems to be unknown today, and frankly, the scenes here explain why. The appalling part was that this musical was supposedly based upon a John Steinbeck novel, perhaps not the top author on the should-never-be-turned-into-a-Rodgers-and-Hammerstein-musical list, but certainly in the top ten. Still, Ed almost makes up for it by cutting the ventriloquist short. Extra highlights include commercials for big ugly 50s cars and a really cheesy "next week" promo.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
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