The Middleton Family at the 1939 New York World's Fair (Moviecraft, 1994). [Category: Industrial]

This film was made by Westinghouse to promote its exhibits at the 1939 New York World's Fair. It features an "average" middle-class family who come all the way from Indiana to go to the fair, an obnoxious teenaged son who says "Gee whiz!" and plays practical jokes all the time, and a love triangle involving the daughter, a godless Commie art teacher, and a clean-cut Westinghouse engineer who talks up the company and modern technology in general every time you turn around. The scenes with the art teacher will make you cringe––he is a slimy, cranky, spoilsport who can't argue his way out of a barrel, yet tries to anyway. He also buys the daughter a cheap, costume jewelry ring from a magic shop and tells her it's a priceless heirloom that's been in the family for generations. All this is supposed to be associated with communism, lack of enthusiasm for modern technology, and abstract art, somehow. The campiest scene is probably the demonstration of Electro the Robot. He is incredibly slow-moving and clunky and his feats are vastly unimpressive––he does such "amazing" things as smoking and counting on his fingers. Yet the Middletons are incredibly impressed by him. I'm with the cranky Commie on this one. There's also lots of fun scenes of various fair exhibits, giving the viewer a feel for what it must have been like, at least in the Westinghouse building. A wonderful, well-rounded piece of ephemera about a popular subject.

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


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