Hidden Grievance (film #11 on The Educational Archives, Volume Four: On the Job DVD (Fantoma, 2002)). [Category: Industrial]

This is another "discussion film," like The Grapevine. Jake, a machinist with a Canadian accent, has a lot of complaints––the light's too dim, his feet hurt, etc. His foreman tries to be accomodating, but no dice. Jake finally tells him his real beef––he thinks he's being given all the tough jobs and none of the easy ones. The foreman tries to tell him that the jobs he's been assigned are no tougher than what anyone else has to do, but Jake doesn't believe him. So he goes and files a complaint with the union that he's being discriminated against, for being Canadian, I guess. What's the poor foreman to do? Again, this has a "What do you think?" ending. This seems a little more fair than The Grapevine. Neither Jake nor the foreman is made out to be a total bad guy––it seems like the problem is more a result of a misunderstanding. I'm not sure how I would handle it, frankly.

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

Circus (film #22 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]

Flip the Frog runs a hot dog stand at the circus in this one, complete with anthropomorphic hot dogs. OK, folks, you know how I feel about walking and talking food, so we'll move on. Flip valiantly agrees to chase down a pickpocket, resulting in a ridiculous chase scene. Another cute and fun Flip the Frog cartoon, with extra points for the hot dogs.

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

BBC1 Schools #3 (film #6 in the Schools section of TVArk). [Category: Educational]

This counter is another mesmerizing one. Dots that make up a circle slowly count down, while unintelligible symbols gradually turn into letters that spell out “SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES.” I bet this killed a lot of time for students.

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

The Bewitched Traveller (film #15 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 6: Rare Films (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Ever have one of those days? You settle into a nice chair only to have it disappear on you? You sit down to a nice breakfast only to have the table suddenly shift to behind you? You get on a bus only to have it disappear entirely, leaving you rolling down the street? Apparently Hepworth was enamored of the dissolve effect for awhile and used it to ruin the day of some poor shmoe. It ends like you would expect it to. A 1904 Hepworth film.

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

The Flying Saucer Mystery Extras (on The Flying Saucer Mystery (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Commercial]

Since The Flying Saucer Mystery is such a short film, Sinister Cinema added some trailers to the tape. All of them are from 50s sci-fi movies with an alien invasion theme, which is a pretty fun subject for a collection of trailers. A nice extra bonus which rounds out the film well.


  • Gimmick Alert! The trailer for It Came from Outer Space features a fun explanation of the 3-D process, complete with animated stuff flying out of the movie screen.
  • The trailer for Killers from Space features the incredibly campy bug-eyed aliens of that film.
  • In the trailer for 20 Million Miles to Earth, a dumbfounded reporter, on being informed that the monster of this movie comes from Venus, says, "You mean the planet Venus?"
  • Msties, take note: Contains the trailers for This Island Earth, The Astounding She-Monster, and It Conquered the World.

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

The Dynamic American City (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #467 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

According to this film, cities remain dynamic by tearing down “obsolescence”, i.e. old buildings. That’s right, folks, no matter how beautiful or how historically important a building may be, down it must come, in order to make room for more parking garages! And all the stores moving out to the suburbs don’t affect the city one bit––it’s still as dynamic as ever! Why just look at all the wrecking balls and rubble! Actually, I’m making this piece of urban renewal propaganda sound a lot more interesting than it is––it drags on and on, with a droning narrator the only thing on the soundtrack. That is, if you can get to the actual film before falling asleep––the opening is the most tedious I’ve ever seen, featuring three guys from the United States Chamber of Commerce having the most boring conversation imaginable about how they made this film about cities and are selling a book to go with it. Perhaps the makers of the film attended too many tedious Chamber of Commerce dinners. Just wait until their headquarters gets torn down to create more parking.

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

Uncle Tom and Little Eva (film #13 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Lots of stereotyped black characters who look suspiciously like mice frolic and chase each other across ice in this 30s cartoon, very loosely based on Uncle Tom's Cabin. Very confusing.

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

Johnny Carson: His Favorite Moments from "The Tonight Show": 80s & 90s: The King of Late Night (Buena Vista, 1994). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This tape is a lot funnier than I expected it to be, but then it occurred to me that a tape of highlights is the ideal way to experience something like "The Tonight Show". The tape covers highlights from the 80s and 90s (there are two other tapes in the series which cover the 60s and 70s) and there's a wide assortment of clips, including bloopers, silly ad-libs, interviews gone strange, kids and animals upstaging Johnny, and early appearances by well-known comedians. My favorites are the weird guests they would get occasionally, such as the female accordionist who describes sitting on the toilet and playing new song ideas to her husband while he takes a bath ("Any marriage that can survive that is a strong union!" asserts Johnny), or the lady who sees faces in potato chips and brings her collection of chips to the show (Johnny plays a hilarious prank on her which I won't give away here). The end of the tape gets all sentimental as we see some of Johnny's last guests commenting on his retirement (including a jubilant Ted Koppel), but it fortunately doesn't get too weepy. A good record of the last years of the ultimate tv institution. Watch for the great surreal moment when Charles Grodin gets Johnny to admit the gut-level honest truth about his job as a talk show host.

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

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things

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