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Showing posts from July 25, 2004
The Army Mascot (film #2 on Disc 1 of Walt Disney on the Front Lines DVD (Disney, 2004)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This Disney cartoon tells us where all that rationed meat went––it went to feed the dog mascots of various army divisions. Pluto understandably wants a share of this bounty so he gets into a conflict with a goat (that’s right––a goat) for the role of mascot of a nearby army post. This involves, among other things, tobacco chewing, and it only gets weirder from there when Pluto accidentally swallows a whole plug. One of the weirder WWII, as well as Disney, toons I’ve seen, and that makes it essential.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Business Films (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #265 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This is a film about sponsored films for the makers of sponsored films. It features boring speeches by men in suits, talking about what an exciting visual medium film is. It then moves on to its real agenda, which is how to get sponsored films, with their messages of corporate propaganda, on tv during “non-commercial” “public service” time, into schools to infect the minds of the young, and into movie theaters disguised as entertainment. This is appalling, but we can take some consolation in the fact that the ultimate destination for these films is the internet, where they can be laughed at ever after by generations to come. Not this film, though, as it is dull as a convention of public relations executives.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Coveted East Indies (film #596 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]This late 30s color travelogue is missing its soundtrack, or maybe it was silent to begin with––it's hard to tell. Anyway, it's about the Dutch East Indies and it gives an interesting snapshot of what the islands were like on the eve of WWII. There's lots of class differences apparent here, with lots of footage of rich upper-class white people contrasted with the poor, hardworking natives. There's lots of military footage, too, as the island gear up for war. And there's lots of ordinary travelogue stuff, such as scenery and the locals showng us their culture. I sure wish there was a soundtrack to explain some of this stuff, but even without it there are some striking images, such as a bizarre poster of a political cartoon with the caption in Dutch, the sad face of a child peddlar who carries a huge yoke of stuff on his shoulders, and local women demonstrating various native crafts relate…
Being Different (film #6 on Campy Classroom Classics, Vol. 6 (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Educational]George spends the summer butterfly hunting with a local scientist and has a great time. Unfortunately, he makes the fatal mistake of writing about it in his requisite "What I Did This Summer" school composition and his teacher reads it in front of the whole class. You can imagine how well this goes over among the other boys. George's "best friend" spends the rest of the film trying to convince him that only "creeps" hunt butterflies. The film ends inconclusively, for class discussion purposes, no doubt. There's something strangely "off" about this film. The kids have strange accents and the world they inhabit seems familiar yet alien at the same time. I puzzled over this for some time, then I finally figured it out––it's Canadian! Shows you how conscious the average American is of our neighbors to the north (OK, I'm far f…
The Buckskin Kid excerpts (film #3 on TV Turkeys (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Early Film & TV]The video artists on "Alive from Off-Center" could only aspire to make something this weird. This early 50s tv western with an all-kid cast and dubbed-in adult voices just takes the cake in the strangeness department. In addition to the general weirdness generated by seeing kids talk in adult "character" voices and riding around on hobby horses, the production is incredibly cheap and shoddy, adding a dark mood to everything. Just where did Rhino dig this one up, anyway? I've had nightmares that were less spooky than this. A real video ephemera gem, worth alone the price of the TV Turkeys tape.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****+. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Atlantic City Floral Parade (film #8 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]A bunch of flower-covered floats and baby carriages pass by in this slice of early 20th century life. It’s too bad the print is so blurry––some of this stuff looks really interesting and unusual, but it’s hard to see. A 1904 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
BBC1 – Talons, Pt. 6 (film #3 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]Just starting on BBC1, yet another bumper for “Dr. Who,” this one announcing the final episode of “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” At least the announcer pronounces “Chiang” correctly this time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
Prehistoric Daze (extra on Mighty Gorga/One Million AC/DC DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]A very ugly caveman leers at some naked women swimming in a pool, while a narrator with a Yiddish accent wings it. Actually, that description makes the plot of this exploitation short sound more coherent than it is. But then, that implies that the audience this was aimed at cared about the plot. Of course, the whole point of this film can be summed up in the phrase “naked women swimming in a pool.” Still, this is mildly fun because it contains the usual caveman movie anachronisms, including well-shaven and carefully coiffed cavewomen and a man in a very bad dinosaur costume.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Hey Folks! It's Intermission Time, Vol. 4 (Something Weird). [Category: Commercial]Yet another fun collection of drive-in and walk-in movie ephemera. This one focuses mostly on local ads and celebrity charity pitches, though there's still plenty of snack bar promos and even a few wartime propaganda pieces. Essential, as always. Dick Swing recommends it.
Highlights:
The following merchants wish you happy holidays: Lancaster Plumbing, Heating & Well Drilling, Stump Printing Company, Grip Nut Co., Dick Swing - Standard Oil Agent, Co-Operative Produce Co., Cokl Auto Sales, Farmers Store, Farmers Elevator, Dick Woods Motor Clinic, Pook Feed & Coal Company (I hope their bags were clearly marked!), Schimek Variety and Dept. Store, Campbell's Shell Service, V.F.W. Post 2919, Green Parrott, French's Texaco Service, Harshman Cleaners, Johnson Bros. Neon Sign Co., Joy's Electric Shop, Maston Hardware (not to be confused with Matson's Food Market), Bauman Stock Yards…
For Health and Happiness (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #549 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 40s film features lots of children and teens frolicking and playing in bathing suits or sunsuits, while a female narrator goes on and on about how healthy and “well-developed” they are because of good nutrition, exercise, plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and all-around right living. She really does go on and on about this, and it’s only near the end of the film that some actual suggestions are given for how to bring this about. Most of the nutritional suggestions are reasonably sound (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, etc.) but the food looks really terrible, especially the dried fruit, the canned salmon, and the suggestion that pig’s liver is just as good as beef. A mildly campy look at another era’s childraising and nutrition standards.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Ratin…
The Old Farmer's Video Almanac (B/P Productions, 1990). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]The Old Farmer's Video Almanac?? Where's Robt. B Thomas when you need him? Judson Hale, the Almanac's current editor, says on this tape that the Almanac tries to strike a balance between the serious and the wacky. This concept is definitely in the "wacky" category. Willard Scott narrates, Roger Welsch provides various silly household hints, yokels of various stripes give tips on fishing, cooking, grocery shopping, gardening, etc., and just in case that's not enough folksiness, there's Jonathan Winters rocking on the porch telling tall tales. Like many small towns, there's something slightly "off" about this tape, though not in a disturbing sense. It's merely eccentric, like being stranded for awhile in Lake Wobegone or some such place. I'm a fan of the Almanac, and this tape is sort of like the Almanac, but in another way, the Almanac co…
Alien (film #14 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #2 in the Horror section of Brickfilms. Also, film #5 in the Sci-Fi section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Some Lego people on a Lego space station discover a podlike thing made of Lego. It turns out to be the egg of a huge alien monster, which promptly hatches and wreaks havoc on the space station. This science fiction Brickfilm is visually stunning, with amazing sets and costumes, all created from Lego. Unfortunately, the dialogue is all done in speeded-up electronic voices, and while this increases the science fiction (as well as the Legoey) feel of the film, it only allowed me to make out the occasional word here and there, while the rest was gibberish. It’s too bad––this would have been a much better film if you could hear what the characters were saying. (NOTE: This might or might not be a Lego version of the film Alien, but I’ve never seen that movie, so forgive my inability to identify the o…
Apollo, Segment 6011 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This is the beginning of a NASA film called America in Space, which celebrates the fifth anniversary of the space program. Again, the digitizer should be shot, as the print is overexposed and the soundtrack speeds up to Chipmunk speed at the very end. Other than that, there’s not much interest here.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
All Together (film #18 on disc #1 of Walt Disney on the Front Lines DVD (Disney, 2004)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Apparently, the Disney studios didn’t have enough to do to produce tons of educational and propaganda shorts for the American war effort––they also collaborated with the National Film Board of Canada to produce this Canadian appeal for a war bond drive. Mostly, this consists of the well-known Disney characters marching in a parade, to the music of Mickey’s band. This is quite cute and fun, but when it gets to the hard sell, it’s almost psychedelic in its brightly-colored imagery. A great wartime relic from the Disney vaults. By the way, I applaud Disney for finally having the courage to release this wartime stuff for its historical value. The whole DVD is well put together, the prints of the films are pristine, and the whole thing is packaged beautifully in a metal tin.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: …
Budweiser (film #258 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This is a random collection of silent film clips that may have been produced by a company called Hardcastle. Mostly it’s clips of female factory workers assembling unidentifiable items. This footage appears to be from the 40s, and the film begins with footage of a military parade, so we may be watching war production, but it’s hard to tell. Interspersed with the factory footage are clips from home movies, title cards from Hardcastle (including “The End” cards in the middle of the film) and footage of what look like science experiments. None of this seems to have anything to do at all with Budweiser, the beer company, so your guess is as good as mine on why it was given this title.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *** (gets docked a star for lack of context). Overall Rating: ***.
A Ceiling on Your Home (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #278 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This post-WWII film advocates rent control as a way to control inflation as a result of the post-war housing shortage. It portrays young couples struggling to find a decent place to live and start their families, and finding “No Rentals” signs everywhere. This is an interesting slice of life from the post-WWII era, before the problem would be eventually solved by huge housing developments in the suburbs.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Athlete with Wand (film #22 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]I know it says “athlete,” but this just looks like a middle-aged guy doing aerobics with a stick. Still, since this is a very early film, it has some historical value. An 1894 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
BBC1 – Talons, Pt. 1 (film #2 in the Cult section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]Another BBC bumper for “Dr. Who,” this one announcing the first episode of “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” Pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Perversion for Profit (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1147 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This 50s film features anti-porn crusader George Putnam preaching a sermon on the evils of pornography. He claims that the examples that he shows (from what looks like a vast collection) can be bought at any newsstand, but interspersed with the usual girlie and pulp magazine stuff are pictures from S&M publications, which I highly doubt you could buy at a newsstand during the 50s. The milder pulp and girlie magazine stuff, lest viewers think it really isn’t that bad, he argues against by saying it “leads to” certain kinds of deviancy, or purporting it has hidden meanings designed to lure youth down the long slide to moral degeneracy. Examples: A naked girl in a farm scene with a goat in the background is about bestiality; a bunch of naked girls together in the same picture is about lesbianism; scantily-clad musclemen in body-building magaz…
Mainline U.S.A. (film #1 on Lifestyles USA, Vol. 2 (Something Weird, 2000). Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #872 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film presents all the advantages of the modern American railroad system. And I do mean all. Breathless narration goes on and on about how great the railroads are. They just provide everything that is good and right with this country, all right?? At least until the next decade. Seriously, railroad buffs will probably enjoy this film as it has trains and train paraphenalia a-plenty.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.