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Showing posts from January 11, 2004
Tomorrow's Children trailer (film #1 on Exploitation Mini-Classics, Vol. 1 (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Campy, hyperbolic trailer for Tomorrow's Children, a 30s exploitation movie about forced sterilization. Lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Distant Drummer: Flowers of Darkness (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #442 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This late 60s film chronicles the worldwide opium trade and the contemporary problems of narcotic addiction in the United States. For the most part, this is intelligently done, though somewhat dry. Near the end, they talk about the shift in social attitudes from viewing addicts as criminals to viewing them as suffering an illness and how that has changed public policy. Unfortunately, that was not to last, and would be replaced by the strident, and ineffective, “War on Drugs.” This film provides a good historical record of drug policy during the 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
How to Irritate People (Castle Communications). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This episode of "The David Frost Show" features a pre-Python John Cleese narrating a treatise on "How to Irritate People"––a subject he is definitely an expert on. Graham Chapman and Michael Palin also appear, as well as Connie Booth (Polly on "Fawlty Towers"). The sketches are definitely proto-Python, allowing us to see how Python's lunacy evolved from more conventional sketch comedy. Early versions of the Pepperpots are here, as well as early versions of the Restaurant Sketch (the one with the dirty fork) and the Job Interview Sketch ("Good nigghhhhttttt...a ring-ding-ding-ding!!"). A highlight is a sketch with airline pilots who play some really terrible pranks on the passengers (and forget what I said about Up on Cloud Nine––this really is funny). Not quite as funny as real Monty Python, but Python fans will find this a quite interesting historical reli…
Apollo, Segment 6004 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]More soundtrack woes. This one starts out with no film soundtrack at all––you just hear background noises. Then, about a third of the way through, the sound kicks in, but after only a few seconds it speeds up to Chipmunk speed again and continues that way till the end of the clip. One wonders if the next clip will feature the sound of the boss yelling at the digitizer. Stay tuned.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
The Andy Griffith Show #2 (film #17 in the When Stars Did the Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Andy gets a visit from Carol Channing, who helps him pitch Sanka coffee. This also has that staple of 60s commercials, the surprise switcheroo with “ordinary people”: “This is Sanka? Really??” This really brings back those 60s tv memories.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Avengers #3 (film #7 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Now these are cool opening credits (for the 1965 series)! Also included is the opening scene of the episode “The Cybernauts,” which is genuinely exciting. This will bring back those 60s spy show memories.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bigger and Better (film #1385 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Silent color film footage from the 30s and 40s showing firefighters putting out various fires in the New York City area. Unfortunately, the film has been poorly digitized, with lots of pixelization, so it’s hard to see what’s happening, especially in the night scenes. Still, it’s kind of fun to see those big old firetrucks in glorious color.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
All Together Now (film #3 on WWII Cartoons, Vol. 1 VCD (The Authentic History Center)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Brief Disney toon in which the Seven Dwarves bring their diamonds into the bank and use them to buy War Bonds, singing all the while. There’s some historical interest here, in how the Disney characters were used for propaganda purposes, but not much else.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Assembling and Testing Turbines, Westinghouse Works.A guy with a clipboard inspects a big steam-belching turbine. He finds many things to note on his clipboard. A slice of life from an early factory.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Booby Traps (film #10 on The Complete Uncensored Private SNAFU DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). Also, film #3 on Private S.N.A.F.U. (Rhino, 1992). Also, film #4 on V for Victory WWII Cartoons & Shorts Show (Something Weird, 1996)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Warner Brothers made the Private Snafu cartoons for the army, to explain various important concepts to the GIs. Private Snafu was the Goofus of the army, who could be counted on to show what not to do. The cartoons definitely had the Warner Brothers stamp on them, which means they're pretty great. In this one, Snafu enters a zone recently vacated by the enemy and, despite warnings to keep his nose out of things, gets hoodwinked by various booby traps. Features one of the first appearances of the classic Warner Brothers exploding piano gag.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Dialogue with Life (film #436 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 60s film touts the advances in medical science that have taken place during the previous 50 years or so. Actually, it sings the praises of medical technology, even at the expense of human relationship or bedside manner. It also sings the praises of health insurance. It ends by showing us the glory of a high-tech hospital birth, something that would be abandoned for routine pregnancies due to grass-roots efforts in only about 10 years. In its time, there was some justification for these attitudes, but looked at from today’s perspective it about makes you want to throw up. Still, it does give an interesting perspective on how health care got into the mess it’s in today. It drags a bit, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Andy Griffith Show #1 (film #12 in the When Stars Did the Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Commercial from “The Andy Griffith Show” where Andy does a magic trick of opening up an ear of corn to reveal that it is full of Post Toasties. I’m not sure that’s what I want to get my cereal from.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Juke Joint (film #17 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix (www.movieflx.com)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Movieflix added an introduction to this all-black cast film that gives some historical background to films like this, which were made completely by African-Americans. This film is a light comedy, featuring a couple of con men who drift into a small town and endear themselves to a local family when they help one of the daughters win a beauty contest. The juke joint of the title plays only a minor role in the film. This is a rather strange movie with a plot that kind of meanders around. The two con men are mildly amusing, but the scenes of the mother beating her husband and one of her daughters are upsetting to today’s sensibilities. It’s also curious that the two con men are never unmasked and are actually a benign influence on the family throughout the film. This is a good example, though, of a film that was made from an African-American perspective.
Ratings: Camp/Humor…
The Avengers #2 (film #6 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits for the 1962 season of “The Avengers.” We’re starting to get cooler and more 60s spy-like here, with giant letters and the silhouette of a man running. We’ll see how this develops.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 6003 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]Is anybody at NASA paying attention to how these film clips are being digitized? About two-thirds of the way through this one the sound suddenly speeds up to Chipmunk speed. It goes on like that for awhile, then it suddenly stops, then continues on to the end of the clip on a too-slow speed. Of course, this increases the humor value of this clip vastly, and God knows these Apollo clips need something.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Artificial Respiration (film #1384 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Silent film from the 20s about how to do the old out-with-the-bad-air, in-comes-the-good method of artificial respiration. The film repeatedly emphasizes that after a victim is resuscitated he should not be allowed to get up––this is portrayed on screen by showing rescuers literally wrestling victims to the ground. They also move victims’ spines around a lot when preparing them for artificial respiration. This is a quaint view of resuscitation techniques from another era––aren’t you glad it’s better now?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
Going Places (film #1 on An American Retrospective Through Animation (Moviecraft, 1994). Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #603 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Little Freddie Futzo, forced to stay indoors and help his mother make soap instead of go fishing, thinks up a better way to make better soap and step by step grows up to be the CEO of Fudso Industries, Inc., a thriving, profit-making corporation. This is shown to be better not just for Freddie, but for everybody, as the profit motive eventually creates utopia in Freddie's cartoon world. This film is a bit less annoying than some of the others on this tape. Some of the points it makes are valid––it just has a rose-colored view of capitalism, where industrial development is always an improvement over what existed before, where savvy consumers are impossible to cheat, where profitable businesses always share the wealth with their employees, and where the free market always quickly thw…
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Assembling a Generator, Westinghouse Works.Overall-clad workmen assemble a big turbine-like thing, which I assume is the generator. That?s it, really, but it?s a mighty piece of equipment and thus kind of fun to watch being assembled. A nice bit of factory history. A 1904 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Ajax Liquid (film #2 in the Video Vault section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]A housewife tells her friend on the phone that she’s using the “white tornado” to clean her floors. The emphasis on ammonia is what’s campy here––she shouts that Ajax has way more ammonia than “that green stuff” and you can tell “by the smell!” A campy fun glorification of toxic chemicals.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Bright Lights: Cycle Safety (film #2 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]Very short British PSA urging cyclists to keep their headlights clean so that they will shine brightly and improve visibility at night. This is too short to say much about.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
The Avengers #1 (film #5 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits and the first few seconds of a 1961 episode of “The Avengers.” This is smoothly cool, but not yet very wacky. It does have historical value, though, in being a from a very early episode.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 6002 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This clip from a NASA film features pictures of Mars sent back by the Mariner 9 unmanned spacecraft. The pictures are kind of blurry and hard to see, but this has historical value anyway.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
A Chinaman's Chance (film #14 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999). Also, film #4 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot, Volume 3: Things That Go Bump in the Night (Kino Video, 1993)). [Category: Hollywood]In which our hero, Flip the Frog, in the guise of a policeman, tracks down the notorious Chinese criminal Chow Mein. This is a delightfully "toony" toon, complete with the most "toony" car you've ever seen, and a plot that unfolds with "toony" logic. The water scenes are beautifully done, and the scene in the opium den will remind you of many anti-drug films to come. Great fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
John Henry and the Inky Poo (film #18 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999). Also, film #3 on She (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This puppet-animated retelling of the John Henry legend is rather unusual. First of all, it’s an African-American version of the story, and though its portrayal of that culture probably wouldn’t pass muster today, it’s not to bad for its time (the 40s). And although it features music and singing, it doesn’t really sing at any point the folksong we all remember. The strangest part concerns John Henry’s birth––he is born fully-grown and about the size of Paul Bunyan and politely introduces himself to his mother (I don’t even want to think about what she went through!). And the film specifies that John Henry started working on the railroad at about the age of 3 weeks. The Inky-Poo of the title is the steam drill––I cannot imagine where they got that name for it. Strange as it is, though, the cartoon is rather stirrin…
Albany St. Lumber Yard (film #1383 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Silent film footage from the 30s of firefighters fighting fires in various Boston locations, including the Albany St. Lumber Yard. Some of the scenes of fires are pretty spectacular while other scenes are murky and hard to see. This is gritty, real firefighting footage, though, so if that interests you, this is a film to check out.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Asia in America, St. Louis Exposition (film #5 on America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is footage of a parade of Asians in cultural dress at the St. Louis Exposition, taken from a rather far away vantage point so it’s hard to see things. This has some historical interest, I suppose, though. A 1904 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Ajax Laundry Detergent (film #16 in the Video Vault section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]This is one of the classic “Stronger Than Dirt” commercials from the 60s, featuring a white knight on a charging steed and a cranky housewife. This one is not the best example I’ve seen from this series, but it’s still pretty fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Democracy at Work in Rural Puerto Rico (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #414 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 40s film, made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Extension Service, chronicles the services the Extension Service provides to rural Puerto Rican families, including training in better farming methods, help with starting home-based businesses, and starting 4-H clubs for the kids. It’s pretty straightforward, though the emphasis on “American” values seen in a Hispanic culture is a little bit unusual in spots. Mostly, though, this is just what you’d expect. It does give a historically interesting glimpse into rural life in Puerto Rico during the 40s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Barbiturates: Case Study (film #5 on The Educational Archives, Volume One: Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2001)). [Category: Educational]A former pothead describes how he got hooked on "reds" and "yellows" when pot just didn't do it for him anymore. Since this is a 60s film, the description of the drugs' effects is quite psychedelic, involving the same amoeba-like camera effects seen in practically all anti-drug films of the period. Again, this seems to be an excerpt rather than an entire film. Groove along to catchy, poppy music in this film about downers.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 6001 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This is the opening credits to another Aeronautics and Space Report from NASA. Again, it’s prefaced with a crummy handwritten title card with a number on it, backed by a female voice reading off the number. But first, her little brother or somebody makes her laugh. This might have some value to somebody, but I don’t know who.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: *.
Booked for Safekeeping (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #229 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This early 60s police training film, made in New Orleans, was designed to educate officers in how to handle people who are mentally ill, a type of situation that is more common in police work than you might think. The film is quite well-made and realistic, showing us scenes of police officers handling a confused, senile old lady making a scene at a grocery store; a depressed man who tried to kill himself by jumping off a bridge; a frightened, paranoid psychotic armed with a knife; and a catatonic who doesn’t speak English who suddenly goes from a state of stupor to a violent attack. The main cop in the film keeps his cool in these very difficult and dangerous situations, trying to talk down the disturbed people, and when this fails, physically subdues them in the least painful and frightening ways possible. The film points out in a number of different sc…
Battle in the Clouds (acquired through trading). [Category: Early Film & TV]The print I have of this is pretty poor quality, so it's a bit hard to follow, but this seems to be an early vision of what war would be like enhanced by airborne technology. There’s airships aplenty, a battle between an airplane and an airship, an armored vehicle that gets blown up, a house that gets bombed, and, of course, a love story. The planes and airships are a lot of fun to look at and the special effects in general are quite good for its time. I wish I could follow the story better, but hey, you can't have everything.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.