After Launching (film #8 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A boat full of people steams out of the harbor in this very short film. Wow, look at the boat. An 1898 Edison film.

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

King Size Canary (film #1 on Cartoons for Big Kids (Turner Home Entertainment, 1989)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This is the ultimate cat-and-mouse (and dog and canary) chase toon. A hungry cat finds a bottle of "Jumbo Grow" plant food, and since this is a cartoon, the stuff makes any character who drinks it grow to huge proportions. The bottle gets passed around from cat to mouse to dog to canary and back, and things get ridiculous real quick. The whole premise is followed to its ultimate conclusion, resulting in one of the greatest endings to any cartoon ever. This cartoon is a must.

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

Film Bloopers (extra on And Then There Were None DVD (Madacy Entertainment, 2001)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This is a somewhat better-than-average blooper reel containing moments of unexpected public embarassment and scenes from montage-style comedy shorts as well as the usual flubbed lines. Most of the stuff is from 30s and 40s Hollywood and much of it is from the filming of well-known classic movies. Most of it I've never seen before. Still, the blooper reel is a somewhat limited concept, though it's OK for a DVD extra.

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

Bridging San Francisco Bay (film #249 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This film documents in detail the building of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge. If you love bridges and are fascinated with how they are built, you will probably enjoy this film. If you don't, then you'll probably find it rather dull. There are some mildly interesting scenes of construction workers climbing all over the place without any safety provisions, and U.S. Steel, who sponsored the film, puts in a plug for its products whenever they are used on the bridge. But mostly, this is pretty ordinary.

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

Atoms for Peace (film #174 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

The peaceful uses of atomic energy are shown in this 50s film, with a focus on using radioactive isotopes as triggers. This is dull, dull, dull, folks, though it does leave you with the disturbing feeling after awhile that they're trying to make everything radioactive. No downside of atomic energy is portrayed, as usual.

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

Centron Commercial (extra on Carnival of Souls DVD (Criterion Collection, 2000)). [Category: Industrial]

Ooh, cool, a fish-eye lens! A cameraman at the Centron Corporation (famous for such stirring educational films as Cheating and What About Juvenile Delinquency?) got a new fish-eye lens and went crazy filming Centron's brand-new office/studio building. Add a groovy soundtrack and you've got a commercial for Centron, a modern, with-it film production company. This was made in the early 70s, and it looks it. The fish-eye lens is cool, though.

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

Ads & Clips (extra on Drive-In Discs, Vol. 2 (Elite Entertainment, 2001)). [Category: Commercial]

This collection of drive-in ephemera has a lot of the same ones as Volume One, so it gets docked a few points for that. Still, it does contain some classics, such as the "Hey kids! How would you like to hear this?" plea for silence, the Pic Ad, and an announcement forbidding "public displays of affection." And as far as I'm concerned, every collection of ephemera should have "Let's Go Out to the Lobby" on it. As usual, all promos are in excellent condition and menu-driven.

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

Animation Class: Lesson 1 (film #9 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #7 in the Drama section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This is the first in a series of films designed to teach beginners how to make Brickfilms, that is, stop-motion animated films made with Lego bricks. The film shows a rather unruly classroom of Lego guys being taught by a very patient teacher. It also features a bit of fake ephemera in the form of a film the teacher shows that tells us what kind of equipment you need to make a film, and featuring a claymation host! This film is very well-made, funny, and informative. I look forward to seeing the other films in the series.

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

Aristocrats of Fashion (film #149 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

My, fashions are certainly gay this summer! Many a drag queen could take tips in "femininity" from this incredibly stupid and shallow 40s fashion film, featuring BEMBERG rayon. A bunch of very shallow and silly upperclass women frolic at a club in incredibly ugly, gaudy rayon clothes. I don't know which is stupider––the narration, the silly "plot" involving "feminine scheming", or the loud "fashions", featuring such elements as stripes only a football referee could love, bows and collars of a size usually seen on cartoon characters, or snoods, a brief 40s headwear fad that's as ugly as its name implies and which thankfully didn't catch on. The dialogue is a scream, featuring whole passages a drag queen would be proud of. Example: "He found out from the caddy." "Oh no! You mean Vivian?" "No, silly, the golf caddy!" Somebody ought to put these gals out of their misery. This film is, of course, incredibly ripe for msting. Have fun with it on "Ladies Night".

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

The Fall of the Berlin Wall (track #21 on Stay Tuned: Television's Unforgettable Moments DVD (Garner Creative Concepts, 2002)). [Category: News]

This is one of the best segments of the Stay Tuned DVD. In addition to documenting the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, it contains footage of the wall's construction, footage of several presidents commenting on the wall, and breaking CNN news footage of the announcement by East Germany that travel between east and west will no longer be restricted. The footage of crowds of citizens participating in the tearing down of the wall show how much of a symbol of oppresion it had become. A great piece of history.

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

The Boogie Woogieman (extra on Monsters Crash the Pajama Party Spook Show Spectacular DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Hollywood]

A trio of teenage girls, wearing dresses no teenager would be caught dead in today, sing about the Boogiewoogieboogie Man, Andrews-Sisters style. For all I know, this could be an early appearance of the Andrews, but I doubt it. A cute 30s soundie.

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 ...