Baths at Milan, Italy (film #7 on Pioneers of the French Cinema (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A bunch of swimmers dressed in bathing suits about as revealing as the average pair of long-johns practice their diving in a swimming pool. Another brief Lumiere film.

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

Drive-In Movie Double Feature #90 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]

This one has most of the good ones from #84, making it a better value for your money or disappointingly repetitive, depending upon your point of view. Included are the Jalopy Raffle, Manley's Hi-Pop, Chilly Dillies, Your Drive-In Potato Expert, and "the parched area at the back of the throat", as well as yet another jazzy Dr. Pepper promo.


Highlights:


  • Little kids in toy cars like ice cream. At least that's less scary than the manic car in the "Bring the Kiddies" announcement.
  • Conspiracy Buffs Alert! The Pepsi "Taste That Beats the Others Cold" promo has subliminal "NOW!" messages.

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

Anyone at All (film #6 on Oops! (A/V Geeks)). [Category: Educational]

Phil’s surprise party for his best friend Larry is ruined when Larry goes and gets himself killed in a car accident. As a result, Phil goes on an organizing frenzy, starting a teen safety council at his school and getting all kinds of other people in the community involved. Fortunately, everybody who gets involved has a tearjerking story to tell about a friend or relative whose life was ruined after getting into an accident. The campiest part is the end, where all the accident victims get to speak their piece about safety, including Larry, speaking from beyond the grave. When Phil is thanked by community leaders for getting everybody so fired up about safety, he says Larry really deserves the credit, a premise which is ludicrous after a moment’s thought. I guess Larry did everybody a big favor by dying in that accident, though I’m not sure he would like people to think so. Maybe we should all improve our communities by getting ourselves killed. A fairly campy film with lots of scenery-chewing.

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

Arrival of McKinley’s Funeral Train at Canton, Ohio.

This is just a scene of a train pulling into a station and lots of people going up to meet it. You wouldn’t know it was McKinley’s funeral train unless you were told. Still, this is an important historical document of a presidential assassination, so it has some value. A 1901 Edison film.

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

Hot Number (film #691 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Goodness, it’s hot in here! I do believe I’ll strip down to my undies in front of this camera! There! That’s better. Another rather silly stag film, folks.

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

Thank You Mask Man (track #14 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Comedian Lenny Bruce's "Thank You Mask Man" bit is animated here, using very 60s-style animation. The soundtrack, though, is Bruce himself performing the bit live. The bit provides us with a new spin on the Lone Ranger legend, involving messianic Jews, cuss words, and "unnatural acts". It's easy to see why people tried to censor Bruce back in the 60s (though he's nothing compared to somebody like Eddie Murphy today). It's a little bit hard to hear––Bruce talks so fast and the sound quality is only fair––and what you can hear is only mildly amusing, though I suppose it was funnier back when such things were much more outrageous.

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

Crisis in Morality (film #5 on Christian Youth Scare Films, Vol. 5 (Something Weird, 2000)). [Category: Public Service]

This sensationalistic 50s film diagnoses all social evils, including juvenile delinquency, increasing divorce rates, crime, and the nuclear threat, as symptoms of sin and moral decay, i.e. lack of sufficiently rigid religious beliefs. The answer, well besides everybody getting the One True Religion, is more Christian schools and colleges. This ending is surprisingly tame and pat considering the level of sensationalist hand-wringing that went on before. You get the feeling that this is just another sales film in the end. It’s pretty campy, though.

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

Apollo, Segment 4005 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]

This clip from a NASA film focuses on planes that fly through the stratosphere, gathering research data and taking photographs from the upper atmosphere. One of the highlights of this research is the detection of corn blight in the Midwest. That gives you an idea of the overall level of interest in this clip.

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

BBC TV Trailer #1 (film #104 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]

Remember back in 2000 when the Daleks invaded London? No? Then you need to watch this campy Dr. Who trailer from the mid 60s! Do it or you will be EX-TER-MIN-ATED!!!

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

The Adventures of Rupert the Bear #2 (film #34 in the Children’s TV section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Closing credits for the same tv show as #1. Again, this is quite cute, showing all the various puppet characters in the show. I particularly like the elephant dressed as a stuffy English gentleman.

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

The Big Train (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #216 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Made by the New York Central Railroad, this 50s film tells us how railroads are modernizing in standard industrial film style. It goes into a great deal of detail about this in a rather dry fashion. Railroad buffs will probably find it interesting, others less so. The last part of the film is a rather whiny lecture by Alfred Pearlman about how the government subsidizes other forms of transportation, but lets the railroads shift for themselves. After learning about how many government perks the railroads were given back in the 19th century, I can’t say his little talk stimulates much sympathy in me. Still, this is a quite historically interesting record of where the railroads were at in the 50s.

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

Hooray for Hollywood unsold tv pilot opening (film #2 on TV Turkeys (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

The opening credits for the pilot of an unsold tv sitcom, "Hooray for Hollywood". The show is based on the antics of the secretary of a tyrannical movie producer during the silent days of the 1920s. This is a potentially funny premise, and the slapstick opening seems like it ought to be funny, but isn't. I think they were trying too hard. And it's too professional looking to be campy. Little Shop of Horrors fans will want to watch for a brief appearance by Jackie Joseph.

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

Beyond the Blue Horizon (film #1384 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]

Hey, we’re swingin’ now! This soundie features not only an organist, but an accordionist as well, with an electric guitar for backup. Is that a young Lawrence Welk on the squeezebox? I hear that very white people like this sort of thing.

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

Arrival of Emigrants, Ellis Island (film #1 on The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This mostly involves large crowds of people carrying huge amounts of luggage being ushered into a building. Still, this has quite a bit of historical interest. A 1906 Biograph film.

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

Alcohol Is Dynamite (film #5 on The Educational Archives, Volume Seven: More Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2003)). [Category: Educational]

Some teenagers ask a guy on the street to go into a liquor store and buy some booze for them. Unfortunately, they are in a Sid Davis movie, so not only does the guy refuse, but he tells them a long, lurid story about three teenaged boys who start drinking and end up with police records, school trouble, and the inevitable horrible car accident. This is your basic Sid Davis number, which means that it’s quite lurid and preachy, and thus a lot of fun. Probably the most unbelievable moment is when two of the three guys, who must both at least be 17, are shown having their “first drink,” with the usual winces. Even for the 50s, it’s hard to believe that liquor has never crossed those lips before. Also fun are the heavily overacted scenes of teen drunkenness.

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

BBC1 – Trailer (film #105 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]

A late-70s trailer for two episodes of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, it is in black-and-white and poor quality. Who fans may find this interesting, others probably not.

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

Conquering Roads (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #371 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 30s Jam Handy film talks about the improvements in roads that have had to be made to keep up with innovations in cars. Divided highways, rotary traffic circles, railroad trestles, and cloverleaf junctions are particularly highlighted. This is a good historical record of the evolution of roads in the first half of the 20th century, and the breezy Jam Handy style makes it more interesting than it might be.

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

Apollo, Segment 4004 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]

This clip from a NASA film features unmanned rockets that were sent into the stratosphere to send back scientific data. Also featured is one of the first space telescopes. This is quite brief and has a little bit of historical interest, but not much else.

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

Black Marketing (film #224 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This film has an imposing beginning: “THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRESENTS" appears over scary, dramatic music. I've seen lots of government films, but none that begin that way. That would make a great opening sequence for just about any film or video you'd care to make. It begins a rather poorly-made film about black market meat trafficking during World War II. The entire film is narrated by a U.S. attorney addressing a jury in a very echoey courtroom. He presents a conspiracy by several shady-looking businessmen (who sit in the courtroom wiping sweat from their faces and looking generally nervous throughout the film) to buy and sell meat under the table at inflated prices. By an incredible coincidence, the ringleader of the racket is named Mr. A and his cronies are named Mr. B, Mr. C, Mr. D, Mr. E, and so forth all the way down the alphabet. Scenes are shown of members of the racket, who all dress, smoke, and generally act like gangsters, making shady deals with local butchers in the most suspicious-looking ways possible ("Got another 'soup bone' for me this week, mister (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more)?"). A title card at the end of the film tells us that all the people in the film are really law-abiding, decent folks who volunteered to help their country by portraying the "chiseling saboteurs" in this film. So I guess they were just kidding. I'm sure there really was some black market activity during the war, but this film is as unconvincing as all get-out.

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

The Future Is Now (film #3 on Atomic TV (Video Resources, 1994)). [Category: Industrial]

This gee-whiz early 50s film about the future was surprisingly accurate in some of its predictions, such as camcorders replacing home movies, refrigerators dispensing ice and water in the door, nuclear power plants, master-slave manipulators, and solar-powered gadgets. Other not-so-accurate predictions include pushbutton kitchen cupboards, preserving food with gamma rays instead of refrigeration, washing dishes with ultrasonic waves, and the ubiquitous picturephone (it must not be The Future yet, 'cause we don't have picturephones). The most jaw-dropping moment is a scientist carefully checking his Geiger counter before entering an irradiated cornfield marked with prominent warning signs, while the narrator tells us how radiation will improve the food of the future, implying that we're supposed to actually eat that radioactive corn. A great relic of 50s futuremania.

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 ...