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Showing posts from June 27, 2004
The Beatles and Pop Culture (film #8 in The British Invasion section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Hollywood]Silent newsreel footage shows us some rather fascinating factory footage of Beatle wigs being made. I wonder what happened to the soundtrack to this. Then the sound kicks in and we see the Monkees shamelessly ripping off the Beatles’ media schtick. A fun relic of Beatlemania.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Let's Go to the Movies (film #830 on Prelinger Archives. Also, recorded off of Turner Classic Movies). [Category: Industrial]The Motion Picture Academy made a series of films in the 50s showing how movies were made. This was the first of that series. It gives a brief history of movies and shows us some of the raw materials of film stock. It doesn't go into too much other detail, leaving that for later films in the series. Still, there are some interesting images in this, especially of old-time movie theatres.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Coo Coo the Magician (film #24 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]While vacationing in Arabia with his girlfriend, Flip the Frog has a run-in with a magician (Flip exposes his tricks as fakes) who kidnap's Flip's girlfriend and sends her to a harem, requiring the obligatory rescue from Flip. Like most cartoons of its time featuring an Arab setting, this features lots of racist Sambo characters as the Arab soldiers and henchmen, which is curious, since black people aren't native to Arabia. Other than that, this is a pretty ordinary Flip cartoon.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Kit Carson – Desperate Sherrif (film #3 in the Classic TV section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is one of the better Kit Carsons. Kit and El Toro help a young sheriff defeat a gang of bank robbers. It has all the standard Western elements of poker games, barroom brawls, chases on horseback, and good guys who outshoot the bad guys. El Torro goes through his usual stereotyped womanizing schtick. Western fans should enjoy this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
ABC Saturday Morning Lineup Promotion from 1974 (film #26 in the Fall Season Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]I don’t remember any of the cartoons advertised on this. Of course, by 1974, I was 14 and getting too old for Saturday morning tv. But still, these look lame, especially the one about the turn-of-the-century family (probably a Waltons rip-off).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Marching On (film #20 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]There is something oddly touching about this wartime film made for African-American audiences. This is one of the least stereotyped films of this type that I’ve seen so far, so that plays into it. It’s sort of an African-American version of This Is the Army, featuring a draftee that has a bad attitude towards the army until he has some unusual experiences when he attempts to desert. The film was obviously cheaply made and there are some excruciating moments of bad acting, bad dialogue, and overly-convenient plot contrivances. But still, unlike many African-American movies of its time, most of the characters seem like real people, rather than racist stereotypes. The patriotism is heavy-handed and thick, but the fact that African-Americans were not treated very well by the country they were supposed to love and defend gives the patriotism a poignancy that is hard to escape. And the film gi…
BBC1 Schools: Secondary (film #3 in the Schools section of TVArk). [Category: Educational]This counter is similar to the Primary counter, but the diamonds completely disappear after awhile, and the soundtrack is blander. Mesmerizing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
A Citizen Makes a Decision (film #322 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]Homer, an ordinary working-class guy, tries to decide whether or not to vote for a proposed dam project after his town is devastated by a flood. He ends up doing more research about this than the kid in How to Prepare a Class Report. He even goes to the library, which is something the film is careful to point out is unusual for him––he’s no longhaired egghead after all. Despite the many mstable moments in this film (such as the line “Homer was aroused!”) and the fact that the political process is shown to be the exclusive province of white males, the earnestness of this Centron film gets to you after awhile, and you can’t help but agree with its basic premise of thinking carefully and gathering facts before taking a political stand, even if the example shown way overdoes it. Another example of Centron getting away with murder because of its sincerity.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***.…
The Bob Kick (film #1 on More Melies (A-1 Video)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A pie-hatted, mustachioed "kid" has a little too much to drink. This causes the ball he was playing with to turn into a living human head! Then some other weird stuff happens, which is hard to see because the print is so bad. Still, this is weird enough to be worthy of Melies. What the point of the weird techno-rock sound track is, I don't know, though. A 1903 Melies film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
ABC Movie of the Week #1 (film #10 in the Fall Season Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits for the popular 70s series of tv movies. This one announces the Western Second Chance, starring Brian Keith, Juliet Prowse, and William Windom, a 70s tv-movie cast if ever there was one. This should bring back lots of 70s memories of mediocrity.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Acts of Nature (film #6 on News Bloopers DVD (Time Life Video, 1999)). [Category: News]Various forms of nature, such as wind, rain, or insects create blooper moments for newscasters. Most of these are pretty ordinary, but there are some fun moments, and the segment is edited together well. My favorite is when a hornet brings a local newscast to a complete standstill.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Able (film #2 in the 0800000 Nuclear Film Declassification Project section of DOE Nevada). [Category: Military & Propaganda]The fourth atomic bomb blows up real good in this very short clip from an official military documentation film. This one makes a huge hemispherical cloud, rather than the standard mushroom cloud. Lots more of these explosions to come, folks.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Branding, Ninety-Six Ranch (film #18 on Buckaroos in Paradise). [Category: Industrial]This short film shows the branding process in detail, so it’s not recommended for those who tend to identify with the calf. The calf gets a brand burned into its side, a wattle cut under its chin, an earmark cut into its ear, and several shots, all in the course of a couple of minutes. Fortunately, they only talk about castrating the bulls, rather than showing it. It certainly does not look like any picnic for the calf, but he does seem to recover from it rather quickly, but then what do I know? The film is a good record of cattle-raising practices, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Grandpa's Sci-Fi Hits (Amvest Video, 1988). [Category: Commercial]Al Lewis as Grandpa Munster is at it again, this time hosting a tape of trailers from science fiction movies from the 50's, 60's and 70's. This compilation is a little bit better than Grandpa's Monster Movies––there's a little less of Grandpa and a little more of the trailers and the trailers are little more fun. Most of the trailers are from pretty cheesy movies and the cheesiness comes through in the trailers, making them fun. Unfortunately, being a little better than Grandpa's Monster Movies is not saying much. The film and video quality of the trailers is quite good, though.
Highlights:
The trailers for the serials Flash Gordon, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, and Buck Rodgers have all of the campy fun of the original series with none of the boredom or incoherence.
Alert! The Lost World stars Frosty the Poodle!
This tape gets docked 10 points for listing the trailers on the package in the …
Africa Speaks (film #1 in the Documentary section of Movieflix). [Category: Hollywood]This memorable adventure documentary from the early 30s influenced many other films to come. It features a pair of white male documentary filmmakers making their way across Africa, filming the wonders of nature and having many adventures along the way. Because it was made during an unenlightened time, its portrayal of the natives and the way animals are treated are excruciating to watch at times. Particularly upsetting are the way they portray the native tribes’ treatment of women, but its hard to tell how accurate this is because the whole film is so skewed in its portrayal of natives. Still, the film is pretty entertaining to watch and has lots of action and wonderful scenes of animal life. And its unenlightened perspective makes it a historically interesting snapshot of popular attitudes towards Africa at the time. Many lesser films would be made according to this mold, so its good to see the orig…
The Adventures of Kit Carson – Border Corsairs (film #2 in the Classic TV section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]Standard-issue 50s oater in which Kit Carson and his Mexican companion Torro try to prevent a Mexican-American landowner from starting a border war. Torro is a stereotyped womanizer and there are several plot holes, but mostly this is pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
ABC Promos in the Sixties (film #4 in the Fall Season Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Hard-sell 60s promo for the ABC new fall primetime season. This has a cheesiness that is reminiscent of the drive-in snack bar promos of the era.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Maniac (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This legendary 30s exploitation flick is one ripe piece of cinematic cheese. It features one of the most over-the-top mad scientists ever, who gets killed early on by his assistant, who just happens to be a down-on-his-luck actor. Fortunately, we are not spared scenery-chewing, as the actor decides to take over the identity of the mad scientist, and shows himself just as capable of over-emoting as his mentor. The film also features scenes of cats fighting, weird montages of a laughable devil and his minions, a gruesome scene of the main character eating a cat’s eyeball, and the obligatory exploitation scenes of scantily-clad women conversing and a fight between two women that involves pulling each others’ clothes off. All of this is passed off as a documentary about mental illness by inserting title cards at random moments that spout psychobabble about various psychiatric diagnoses. For lovers of bad films, this is entertainin…
Monsters We've Known and Loved (Creepy Classics). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This tv documentary should please fans of cinematic monsters––it's an affectionate chronicle of them from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. There's not much in-depth analysis here, but there is lots of affection for the horror genre and tons of clips from both famous and obscure monster movies. Those who are not monster movie fans will find it less interesting, but it is a prime example of a mid-60s tv time-filler that local stations would use to plug up holes in their schedules.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.