Campus on the March (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #269 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This WWII-era film shows us in great detail how colleges across the nation are preparing for war. Mostly it involves doing lots of military training, along with training women to assume jobs usually done by men (what a radical concept!). Lots of scenes of military units marching around college greens are shown. One segment features an African-American college, which was unusual for the time this film was made (not unusual in the sense of existing––there were and are lots of such colleges––but that it was put into a film designed for mainstream audiences). Other than that, the film is pretty ordinary.

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

Leave It to Roll-Oh (film #2 on Lifestyles U.S.A., Vol. 1 (Something Weird, 2000). Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #819 on Prelinger Archive. Also, film #13 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager) (excerpt)). [Category: Industrial]

If you want something that's guaranteed campy, you can't go too far wrong with early visions of robots. Roll-Oh is a robot taken straight out of a cheap serial and placed in the home with a housewife. He waters flowers with his own water supply, vacuums the carpet with his feet, and scares away a delivery boy. Despite this, he looks incredibly clunky and more trouble than he's worth. After awhile, the narrator tells us he's "just a dream", but that his counterpart already exists in our homes in the form of modern appliances. This film was shown at the GM exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, probably as a rip-off of Electro, the Westinghouse robot that caused such a stir at the fair. But it's a really lame rip-off. This was made during the time when they still couldn't decide how to pronounce the word "robot"––in this film it's pronounced "ROB-but" one time, and "ROBE-it" another.

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

Coney Island USA (film #43 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]

This 50s film about Coney Island is also full of historical footage of the amusement park in its heyday, but presented with an arty and disturbing spin. The dark, atonal background music, reminiscent of modern jazz, particularly gives this feel, as well as the focus on the leering faces of various advertising dummies and automatons found throughout the park. And occasionally the camerawork gets all weird and psychedelic. I think this was all supposed to make a Serious Statement about amusement park culture, but I'm not sure what that statement is. Still, like the much more innocent and fun Coney Island, this movie also has lots of great historical footage of the grandest of the grand old amusement parks during the pre-theme-park era. The two films together encompass both the fun and the sleaze of the classic amusement park experience.

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 ...