Battle of China (tape #6 of the series WWII Special Edition (Madacy Entertainment, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This sixth film of the "Why We Fight" series documents Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion of their country. I expected to find this dull, but actually this seldom-told story is quite interesting and inspiring. China was ill-prepared for war, but after suffering terrible atrocities at the hands of the Japanese, they banded together, moved most of their population and industry to the west, destroyed most of what they left behind, and set about to develop the military strength they needed to drive out the Japanese. There are many amazing images in this film of the Chinese doing what seems to be the impossible with primitive tools and the sweat of their own bodies, particularly in the segments about the western migration and the building of the Burma Road. One of the most visually compelling films in this series.

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

Do It the Easy Way (film #5 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LSVideo)). [Category: Industrial]

If ever a film has elicited a giant "huh?", this is it. I mean, what is it about the 50s and weird sexual innuendo? This was made by Herpolsheimer's, a Grand Rapids department store, to promote something called EASY (it has to be an acronym but they never explain what it stands for) which, near as I can tell, is a brand name for their large appliances, though it's not completely clear. The middle of the film, which explains the sales campaign for EASY, is boring, boring, boring, but the beginning and ending plays like a filmed version of Freudian free association. Add to that the fact that the film was incredibly cheaply made and that it's silent apart from a single narrator, and you're left with an experience that leaves you scratching your head so hard it hurts. Of course, that makes it great ephemera.

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

The Bully (film #8 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)).

Flip the Frog has a run-in with a neighborhood bully and eventually gets roped into fighting him in the boxing ring. This leads to the standard set of boxing cartoon gags. The ending is pretty surprising, though.

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

Arranging a Buffet Supper (film #154 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

This is a Simmel-Misservey manners film, so there are rules, rules, and more rules for setting up a buffet supper. No candles on the buffet table and the centerpiece must go exactly in the center. If you don't arrange the forks correctly, your party will be a complete flop and everybody will hate you. The purpose of all this is gracious living.

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 ...