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Showing posts from January 4, 2004
Jericho (film #16 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Paul Robeson stars as a soldier who is wrongly accused of murder. He escapes into the Arabian desert and eventually becomes the leader of a large Arabian tribe. This plot is very similar to The Emperor Jones, but the similarity ends there. While Jones was a dark, serious film, this is more of a light-hearted adventure tale on the order of Gunga Din. Robeson’s character is likable and the situation in which he is accused is unjust enough that the Hayes Office let the film allow him to get away without being caught at the end. The movie is lively and full of fun little comic moments, though race issues in the army are also dealt with, though subtly (one gets the feeling that race was a factor in his unjust murder conviction, for example). Overall, this is an entertaining film that manages to be considerably less offensive to today’s sensibilities than most “race films” of t…
ATV Ident (film #38 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]60s network identification spot for the independent British ATV network. Features a dull-looking color wheel and a giant eye. Very 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
As in a Looking Glass (film #2 in the Comedy Sketches section of American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]A kid plays a prank on Grandpa involving a string, a hole in the wall, and a dresser drawer. What this has to do with a looking glass is a mystery to me. Still, you get an idea of the popular pranks of the time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Superman (film #22 in the When Stars Did the Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]This commercial for Sugar Smacks, done by the cast of TV’s “The Adventures of Superman,” is quite campy and fun. It features a cranky boss yelling “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” and complaining about Jimmy Olsen being late with breakfast, Jimmy doing a pratfall on his entrance (the boss threatens to fire him if he spills the Sugar Smacks), and Clark Kent acting cool as a cucumber. There’s also an evil animated clown appearance at the end. This one has something for everybody.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Decimal Coinage – New System (film #7 in the Public Info. section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]This brief British public service announcement tells people that if they’re confused by the new decimal money system, they should “think decimal,” i.e. 1 pound=100 pence. This totally clears up the confusion a ditzy housewife experiences upon receiving her change in a shop. This stereotype makes the PSA slightly campy.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 5002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]In this very brief clip from a NASA film, work on Skylab is reported, then things are wrapped up for 1971. Not much here, folks.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: *.
Drive-In Movie Double Feature #93 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]This one's only 3 minutes long! Hardy even worth getting. Come on, Sinister Cinema!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Bookbinders (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #228 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Part of the “America at Work” series made by the AFL-CIO, this vocational film portrays the bookbinding trade in a romanticized fashion. Most romanticized is the first part of the film, which shows the restoration of antique books, while romantic strings play in the background. The rest of the film shows the mass production of books in a step-by-step fashion and fairly straightforwardly. Actually, this is pretty interesting stuff––the bookbinding trade is a little closer to its craftsmanship roots than many other industries. This makes for a film that is pretty fun to watch, especially if you like “factory tour” films.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Three Little Kittens (film #7 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Three cute little kittens frolic in a grocery store until their fun is spoiled by a very large rat, whom they battle to the death. The only thing I can see that merits its inclusion on Cartoon Scandals is a mildly upsetting scene of one of the kittens almost getting put through a meat slicer. Other than that, it's a standard 30s toon, like many others.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
An Artist’s Dream (film #19 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]That same artist as in Dilemma has a silly dream about the female figures in his paintings coming to life, but being unable to embrace them due to camera trickery. About as weird as the average dream. A 1900 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Jasper in a Jam (film #1 on George Pal Puppetoons (Loonic Video). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Jasper gets caught in a pawn shop at midnight and thus gets to see all the musical instruments come to life and play a hot jam session. After he gets through being scared, he starts to play along––turns out he plays a pretty hot clarinet. Eventually, all the noise bothers a wooden Indian (let’s see how many ethnic groups we can offend, shall we?) who traps Jasper on a totem pole and starts heaving hatchets at him. The whole thing is stopped by a passing cop who, of course, sees nothing. Another fun Jasper cartoon with lots of jiving inanimate objects.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Deadline for Action (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #409 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This film, made by the electrical workers’ union of the CIO in the late 40s, gives the other side of all those pro-business films also made during that time. It criticizes big companies like GE for cutting paychecks after the war, ostensibly because they could no longer afford to pay wartime wages. However, the union’s research showed that production and labor costs to the company had actually gone down and that the pay cuts were done to increase profits. But it goes a lot further than just that issue, pointing out how American big business is getting bigger and bigger and more and more powerful. It also points out the links big American companies had with Axis companies during the war, and equates big businesses dream of an “American Century” with the Nazi goal of world domination. The answer is shown to be participating in strikes and voting the union…
Andy Reads a Story from One of the Later Episodes (film #2 in the Plunk Your Magic Twanger section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This clip from “Andy’s Gang” features Andy reading a story about Indians, which is then acted out on screen. The two Indians are most unconvincing and poor actors to boot, giving this some camp value. No Froggy here, so the faint of heart need not worry.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Horror Home Productions (extra on Monsters Crash the Pajama Party Spook Show Spectacular DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This is a montage of amateur and home movies with horror themes. Included are scenes of a guy in a vampire get-up terrorizing some 20s couples, a 40s amateur mummy movie, a 20s amateur Dr-Jeckyll-and-Mr.-Hyde rip-off, and some scenes of 60s trick-or-treaters and Halloween decorations. All with a spooky rock-and-roll soundtrack! Where does Something Weird get some of this stuff??
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Jasper and the Haunted House (film #3 on George Pal Puppetoons (Loonic Video)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Jasper is a little African-American boy who was unfortunately animated using the racist stereotypes of the time. Despite that, he’s an appealing character. In this puppet-animated cartoon, a scarecrow tricks him into taking a wrong turn and going into a haunted house, in order to steal a pie Jasper is trying to deliver. Unlike most “haunted house” cartoons, the ghosts and spooks in the house are suggested by having all kinds of inanimate objects move of their own accord, supposedly manipulated by invisible supernatural hands. This is a wonderfully creative premise for a puppet-animated cartoon. It’s quite fun to watch, especially the climax which features various objects dancing to a jazz tune. The scarecrow eventually gets his comeuppance from Jasper in a funny ending. This is one of the better puppetoons I’ve seen.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historic…
Apollo, Segment 5001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This short clip from a NASA film contains footage of the Apollo 15 mission, including footage taken from the Lunar Rover. That gives it a bit of historical value, though it’s rather short.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (film #3 in the When Stars Did the Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Mildly strange opening credit/commercial featuring the Nelson’s eating Aunt Jemima Pancakes while the theme-song singers shout out each character’s name in unison. This comes off weirder than it sounds.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Andy Griffith (film #2 in the TV ’68 section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This is the opening credit sequence that we all remember, featuring Andy and Opie coming home from a fishing trip, as well as the whistled-soundtrack song. Charming, but nothing you can’t see every night on TVLand.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Bird Dogs (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #220 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This silent film shows us how bird dogs are trained and hunted with. It’s actually a pretty interesting project and the dogs are cute and fun to watch. The first part of the film, which shows training, is more interesting than the second part, which focuses on hunting. Still, I enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Arrival of the Governor General, Lord Minto, at Quebec (film #17 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]Quebec here looks like the North Pole or something. A bunch of people arrive on a boat on the shore of a lake, or perhaps a very wide river. Snow is piled up everywhere. A bunch of people get out of the boat and pull it up on to the shore. Then they just keep pulling and pulling, and you see some other people, which must be the governor and his entourage still sitting in the boat. After awhile, it seems like they are unaware that the boat is no longer on the water and they expect to be pulled overland in the boat. An oddity. A 1902 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Blockade of Cuba (film #8 in the Cuban History section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Straightforward newsreel story about the American blockade of Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis, probably the scariest moment of the Cold War. No real surprises here, but this was an important piece of history.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value; N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Integration Report I (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #759 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This grass-roots film from 1960 documents the major protests in the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans. Included are the sit-ins at drugstore lunch counters in the south, Jackie Robinson protesting segregation at airports, a major march on Washington which included many white college students among the protestors, and the struggle to get children into primarily white public schools in New York City. Speeches by most of the major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. are also featured. This is a well-made, understated film that mainly lets the images and the speeches speak for themselves. The soundtrack features folksongs and African-American religious songs that inspired the protestors at the time. It all adds up to an interesting, historically important document of the civil rights struggle.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Va…
Darkness Before the Dawn: The Pride of Judea Story (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #394 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 50s film profiles the Pride of Judea Children’s Services, an agency which provides psychological and social work services to Jewish children in New York City. This film tries to be all things to all people. It starts with a brief, lurid handwringing about the problem of juvenile delinquency, then goes through all the things Pride of Judea is doing about it. There’s a lot of stuff, so the narrator chatters on and on without taking a breath, covering the summer camp for troubled and underpriviledged boys, the psychotherapy services provided for children and their parents, the homemaker service which provides help for families where the mother is temporarily incapacitated or absent, and the day nursery for single-parent families. Most of this is covered in a fairly standard fashion, with momentary lapses into sensational…
Going Places (film #7 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LSVideo)). [Category: Industrial]More "Goodyearites" go on vacation, this time in the good ol' U.S. of A., and show us their home movies. Very much like Across the Border, but not quite as historically interesting, as the places they visit are mostly pretty obvious. Wave at the camera, Mabel! Not to be confused with the animated Going Places, reviewed later.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Apollo, Segment 4007 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This short segment of a NASA film talks about research being done on moon rocks gathered by the crew of Apollo 14. This has some historical value, but not much else.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Bill Cosby Show (film #24 in the Lost Fall Previews of the 60s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Preview for Bill Cosby’s late-60s sitcom, where he played a high school P.E. teacher. This includes some mildly amusing Cosby schtick, including a conversation with his feet while jogging. A mildly fun glimpse at a young Cosby.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Chess-Nuts (extra on Drive-In Discs, Vol. 2 DVD (Elite Entertainment, 2001)). [Category: Hollywood]A couple of sedate men play chess, but with a difference: the pieces are different Betty Boop characters! Specifically, Betty is the Black Queen and Bimbo is the White King. They make eyes at each other, but unfortunately the Black King is a cranky Old King Cole that wants Betty all for himself. So war is inevitable. This is a wonderfully funny, strange, and "tooney" toon, which portrays the weirdest chess game you've ever seen, guaranteed. Koko is running around in there, too, and you can tell this was pre-code, because we get plenty of glimpses of Betty's undies. I would love it if they would make a chess set based upon these characters––I might even be persuaded to play the game then.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: *****.
Arrival of Prince Henry of Prussia and President Roosevelt at Shooter’s Island (film #1 on Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film). [Category: Early Film & TV]We see TR and said prince walk by on a pier, followed by a whole lot of other folks. This has one of the clearer shots of TR I’ve seen, so it has some historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Indian Love Burlesque (film #744 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]An “Indian” (a stripper in a fringed bikini and a one-feather headdress) does a “tribal dance” (a striptease) where she “reveals her innermost feelings” (she takes her bra off) in this “daring” (offensive to women and Native Americans) “art film” (stag film).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Andy Devine Calls Out Froggy with “Plunk Your Magic Twanger, Froggy!” (film #1 in the Plunk Your Magic Twanger section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]BUCKY BEAVER WARNING!!!! This is it, folks. The Heart of Evil lies here. You have been warned.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Bigger and Bigger (film #11 in the 100 Years in the Air section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]Clip from a British newsreel about the unveiling of the 747 jumbo jet. This is pretty straightforward, but it has some historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Apollo, Segment 4006 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This clip from a NASA film covers various experimental airplanes, including one that was a prototype for the space shuttle. Some of the plane designs are pretty cool.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
BBC TV Trailer #2 (film #105 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]Another early Doctor Who trailer featuring Daleks. This one isn’t nearly as much fun as #1, so the Daleks haven’t ordered you to watch it yet.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Dangerous Diamonds (film #6 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]British public service announcement warning people to steer clear of anything with a diamond-shaped safety sign on it. One campy moment comes when two women see a tanker truck with a “Flammable Liquids” sign catch on fire––their facial expressions are priceless.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Androids of Tara Blooper (film #88 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]An actress in the “Androids of Tara” episode of “Doctor Who” blows one of her lines. It’s one of those overblown Tolkienesque fantasy speeches, so you understand her dilemma. Still, this is a pretty dull blooper.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
Big Trains Rolling (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #218 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film is basically about how great our country is and how great railroads are and how railroads make our country great. It follows two kids, Carol and Jimmy, as they take a train trip alone. The narrator tells us that normally kids like that would travel with their parents, but “just for fun” they’re going to show them traveling alone. That just begs to be msted, as does most of the film’s narration, which is very breezy and simplistic. There’s lots of color footage of trains and of scenic vistas of America during the 50s. All of this adds up to a typical industrial film experience, one with few surprises, but fun nonetheless.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Banks and Credits (film #187 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]This is not your usual Coronet film. Instead of an earnest film about squeaky-clean teen problems, it's a dull, narrated film about banks and consumer credit which could have been made by Encyclopedia Brittanica. Of course, this sort of subject matter is just the kind of stuff that makes my eyes glaze over––if you're really into things like finance and economics you might enjoy it. But I doubt it. The big clunky adding machine the bookkeeper uses is kind of cool, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.