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Showing posts from December 14, 2003
Baretta (film #7 in the Fall Season Previews of the Seventies section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Standard-issue promo for the 70s cop show “Baretta,� featuring lots of Robert Blake clips. I’m not a cop show fan, so this didn’t interest me too much.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: *.
Children Watch Us Cross (film #5 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]Short, thoroughly charming British public service film about a little boy whose parents don’t cross streets safely. His mum and dad drag him into one near miss at getting hit by a car to another, until Mum almost manages to get them hit by Dad’s car (d’oh!!). The British pull off this kind of twist a lot better than Americans, and this will leave you smiling.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Apollo, Segment 4002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]Clip from a NASA film announcing the mission of the unmanned Mariner spacecraft that took some of the first close-up pictures of Mars. This has some historical interest, but not much else.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Ace of Wands (film #3 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits from a British children’s fantasy series. The prominently-featured pentagram would never fly in the U.S., unfortunately, religious fundamentalism being what it is. The slightly psychedelic graphics and the groovy soundtrack music definitely date this to early 70s, which also make it quite fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Besler Corporation Promo Film: Steam-Driven Vehicles (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1800 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This early-30s film looks like it was probably an anachronism in its own time. It’s all about the wonders of that latest technological marvel, steam power. Not only that, it’s a silent film, even though talkies had been around for several years by that point. The first part of the film is the most interesting, as we see a steam driven car that can go up to 85 miles per hour (wow!). It’s bizarre to see a car occasionally emit puffs of steam from its side like an old-fashioned locomotive. I bet that would have gone over real well on city streets. Then we get to see a steam-powered airplane, which I admit threw me for a loop––I’d never heard of such a thing. But we see it flying, emitting puffs of steam all the while. Then it settles into its real subject matter, commuter trains, and then it gets dull. Still, there…
Home Movies (film #14 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Clips from color, silent home movies taken at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Although it's interesting to see the fair in color, this is just way too short to be very interesting. A nice touch, though, is the "film noise" soundtrack which was added to these silent clips.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Ameta (film #31 in the Dance section of American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920). [Category: Early Film & TV]A well-dressed woman does a dance with big twirly scarves. In the finale, she portrays the big tornado scene from The Wizard of Oz (OK, I made that up, but that’s what it looks like). Probably more fun to do than it is to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Arrest and Trial (film #21 in the Lost Fall Previews of the 60s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Short, rather campy clip from the preview of the 60s courtroom tv series “Arrest and Trial.� In it, public defender Chuck Connors blatantly badgers a witness with the approval of the prosecuting attorney, who, when questioned, asks the judge to be “flexible with procedure.� I don’t think that would fly in a real courtroom.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Green Pastures (acquired through trading). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider] This all-black cast film portrays African-American versions of Old Testament stories such as the Garden of Eden, Noah and the Ark, and Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. As usual for this sort of movie, it’s full of both stereotypes and genuine African-American culture and it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. There’s a charming earnestness about the proceedings, but there’s also a patronizing undertone, as if the beliefs that are being portrayed are of simple, childlike folk. The theology is maddeningly simplistic at some points, while at other points, such as God’s discovery of mercy, it’s complex and fascinating. I would like to see a movie like this made without the constraints of white expectations and stereotypes. Still, overall it’s an interesting movie to watch, as it’s obvious a lot of effort was put into it. I especially enjoyed its down-to-earth portrayal o…
Beyond the Skies (film #9 in the 100 Years in the Air section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Clip from a Soviet-made (but narrated in English) documentary about cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth. This is interesting from a historical perspective, and also for showing us the Soviet perspective on the space race, though, as usual, I wish I could see the whole film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Children and Ponds (film #4 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]British public service announcement urging parents to keep young children away from garden ponds, as they are a drowning risk. The little girl in the spot is incredibly cute and the spot is well-made.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
A for Andromeda #2 (film #2 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Clip from an early-60s British science fiction drama. Julie Christie plays a woman who used to be controlled by a computer and who is now enjoying her freedom after the computer has been destroyed. This well-acted clip indicates that the show was probably excellent. Too bad it wasn’t all preserved.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 4001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]The opening credits to “1971 Aeronautics and Space Highlights,� prefaced with a bored-sounding female voice announcing a call number and a view of the number hastily written on a piece of paper. This has the feel of being stolen out of the editing room.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Birth of the B-29 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #223 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This is the Master Hands of World War II, with narration Norman Corwin would have been proud of. It tells the story of how the huge B-29 Superfortress bombers were made in huge factories staffed by workers from all walks of life. The visuals and the stirring narration work together to create a masterful piece of propaganda in that bombastic, yet lyrical style that is peculiar to the form. As is usual for war propaganda, the film starts with some frankly racist commentary about the Japanese designed to inspire hatred for the enemy. Then we get to see the B-29s being built in huge factories––this is really great factory tour footage. When the workers suddenly stop working and look to the skies to hear the "music" of the bombers going through the air, audience members' hearts probably swelled with patriotic pride. The part at the…
Air Traffic Control (film #8 in the 100 Years in the Air section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]This British newsreel story about air traffic control through radar is actually quite fun to watch and informative. It makes controlling those big jets seem like jolly good fun. Though I wonder how those controllers they show in those big rotating radar detectors keep from getting dizzy.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Aguinaldo’s Navy (film #11 on The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures). [Category: Early Film & TV]Said navy seems to consist of a few canoes and sailboats. Granted, they’re big canoes and sailboats, but still you can see here why Aguinaldo, whoever he was, probably lost. A 1902 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Andy Williams Show (film #20 in the Lost Fall Previews of the 60s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Promo for a mid-60s variety show starring Andy Williams. We get to see lots of musical guests such as Jose Feliciano, Donovan, and Aretha Franklin. Boy, this really brings back those 60s variety show memories.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Gorilla and the Maiden (extra on Night of the Bloody Apes/Feast of Flesh DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This starts with an exotic dancer whose dressed in clothes that one would expect her to strip, but she doesn’t. After quite a bit of hoochie-coochie, the film proper starts. Another exotic dancer in a skimpy belly dance costume is tormented by a guy in a very bad gorilla costume. Just what is it about these stripper-plus-gorilla films that brings on the snickers? Anyway, the big dumb ape manages to get the woman down to pasties and panties, even though she stabs him with a dagger she must keep handy for just such occasions. Then the other dancer comes back in a different costume and strips down to her teddy, said stripping involving only the removal of her skirt and gloves. As it sounds from the description, this film is quite silly.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Blood Donor – The Spinners (film #1 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]British PSA featuring a folk group called The Spinners, who all urge us to give blood in very charming British accents. They all do it themselves, quipping all the while. Fun to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
A for Andromeda #1 (film #1 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credit sequence for an early-60s British science fiction show that made Julie Christie a star. The credits have a nice Twilight-Zone-ish feel, with a Greek bust of a woman (probably Andromeda) superimposed over shots of deep space. Considering this was one of only a few clips of this show that was preserved, it has historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 3002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]One of the Apollo 13 astronauts tells us about an experiment they plan to do on the moon that involves using a large drill to––surprise!––drill holes in the lunar surface. This is probably a clip from the same film as Segment 3001––it even has the same film sprocket sound on the soundtrack.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Behind Your Radio Dial: The Story of NBC.This late-40s film gives the viewer a filmed tour of NBC studios at Radio City in New York, back when NBC was mainly a radio network. I love old-time radio, so I found this very interesting. We get to see radio stars such as Fred Allen or Fibber McGee and Molly performing, musical performances by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and the NBC orchestra, and the news being announced by H.P. Kaltenborn. Kaltenborn’s section on radio news is particularly fun, since he narrates it very bombastically. He also tells us that all news broadcasts were permanently recorded for posterity on wax transcription discs––wouldn’t you like to get ahold of that library! The film has a wistful quality, as its final section deals with the fledgling NBC television network, without even a hint of anticipation of the juggernaut of tv running over and killing network radio. A fascinating historic document of an entertainment medium that doesn’t exist anymore, that’s fu…
From Dawn to Sunset (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #2 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 2: Capitalist Realism CD-ROM (Voyager). Also, film #567 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]An idealistic portrayal of the "typical work day" of the typical worker at the Chevrolet plants in cities around the nation. First the all male workers kiss their wives goodbye and leave for work, while a chorus sings about "the beginning of a perfect day". Then they work for a little while (but not long). This "typical work day" happens to be payday, so there's a very long sequence of workers in each city where there's a Chevrolet plant getting paid and then going to the local stores and buying stuff. That's right––for each city you see a "Welcome to..." sign, hear the city's anthem sung over a few shots of the city's main attractions, then you see long lines of workers at the Chevrolet plant getting paid (they all s…
Casper, the Friendly Ghost (film #14 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]This was the original cartoon that inspired the Casper series, one of the treakliest things in the entire animation canon. Casper is a friendly little ghost who runs away from home when his family doesn't understand him. He tries to make friends but everybody is afraid of him. Finally, a couple of sticky-sweet children are too innocent to be scared and they befriend him. Unfortunately, their mother doesn't approve, that is, until Casper scares the evil mortgage collector away. It all ends happily with Casper being adopted by the mother of his new friends. I have a headache––I need to go listen to some Tom Waits for awhile.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Attitudes and Health.Marv is all bummed out because he didn't make the first team in basketball. He comes home to find out his older sister has taken sick after being passed over for a promotion at work. The doctor emerges from her bedroom and gives Marv and his mother a stern lecture about bad attitudes and how they make people sick, a problem that he believes affects over half of his patients! He makes some reasonable points about how excessive worry can cause health problems, but he's so self-righteous and overgeneralizing about it that you start to wonder if he overlooks serious maladies in his patients by being so quick to diagnose "bad attitudes". Marv, though, takes his talk to heart and starts having a "better perspective" on not making the team, planning to practice to improve his skills so he can make it next time (when you see his laughably bad ball-handling skills, you know exactly why he didn't make it this time). This is one of the most a…
Barque Sortant du Port (film #8 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some guys in a rowboat row around a stone pier where some women are standing. Another brief Lumiere slice-of-life film. An 1895 Lumiere film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.