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Showing posts from August 15, 2004
MGM Studios Tour (film #1 on Blood of Floor Sweepings (LSVideo). Also, recorded off of Turner Classic Movies). [Category: Industrial]This is sort of a filmed tour of MGM Studios, made during the 1920s. Just about all the departments in the company get their few moments of filmed glory and a group shot before the camera. You get to see not just actors, directors, cameramen, and editors, but also the studio nurse, food service workers, and barbers. The film follows a loose progression of filmmaking from initial concept to developing the film. This is a wonderful snapshot of a major Hollywood studio in the early days of the studio system, when films were still silent and musicians were strictly for providing mood music for the actors.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
All of the Dead (film #5 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #3 in the Horror section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This old classic brickfilm is made in the horror mode of Night of the Living Dead. Which is pretty ambitious for a brickfilm, if you think about it. Mostly, it pulls it off, or at least as much as a brickfilm can be expected to pull it off. It’s not surprising that this film inspired others to start making brickfilms.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Apollo, Segment 6016 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This last of the Apollo segments features the end of a NASA film about preparations for the first Apollo mission. We get to see a space capsule being abused in various ways, and then the pontificating about Man and His Mission starts. During the end credits, the digitizer spaces off again, and we hear the music slow to a stop, which is somehow a fitting end to these endless, poorly-preserved NASA film clips.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Calvin Workshop (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This film, made by an industrial film company, would have us believe that all of the technical jobs in film production, as well as writing and directing, are done by chimps. On second thought, that explains a lot of the dreck Hollywood has foisted on us over the years. Monsters Crash the Pajama Party was only able to hint at this scandal, but as usual, ephemeral films tell us what is really going on.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
The Boat (film #2 on Side A of Disc #2 of Comedy Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]As if he didn’t have enough trouble, Buster Keaton builds a boat and subjects his family to one mishap after another, including destroying his entire house when he attempts to get the boat out of the basement where he built it, sinking his car in the bay during an abortive attempt to launch the boat, and having the boat sink completely during said launch. He fixes it so that it’ll float, but his problems have only begun. Again, this is a quite funny Buster romp, featuring bizarre items like a floating anchor, a picture of an ocean scene that leaks salt water, pancakes that are totally inedible but useful for patching leaks, and a lifeboat made from a bathtub. When inanimate objects are not turning against Buster, his two unruly kids cause further mishaps. Everything that can go wrong does, and that makes this fun watching.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***…
Crazy Inventions (film #17 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]Betty Boop hosts a Big Invention Show, featuring weird and wacky cartoon inventions. This is a great concept, though I think it could have been just a bit weirder in execution. Still, the cartoon really takes off when the Self-Threading Sewing Machine goes on a rampage and starts sewing up everything in sight, including ladders, rivers, and people's mouths. Lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Automobile Race for the Vanderbilt Cup (film #10 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]An early car race, filmed from various points on the track. On the final straightaway, the crowd stands much too close to the track––I’m surprised somebody didn’t get killed. Of course, the speeds of the cars were considerably slower back then, but still. A 1904 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
The Betty Hutton Show (film #6 in the When Stars Did the Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Really silly commercial Betty did for Post Raisin Bran that involves making a raisin bran flambé. This is one of the better examples of stars hawking their sponsors’ products that make up this particular section of TVParty.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Murder on Lenox Avenue (film #23 on Feature Films). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]From its title, you would think that this all-black cast movie was a murder mystery, but it isn’t. It’s really more of a soap opera, with more subplots than you can shake a stick at, including several interlocking romantic triangles, and an unwed mother who kills herself, though the main story seems to be about an upstanding fellow who tries to eliminate graft from the Harlem Better Business Society. Although there are several rather stereotyped comic relief characters, and one of the bad guys is a really poorly-done hunchback, for the most part this has a realistic feel. And even though the plot is hard to figure out at times, it holds your interest for the most part. An interesting slice of African-American culture from the 40s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Frontiers of the Future (film #574 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]Lowell Thomas narrates this “screen editorial” designed to tell Depression-era audiences that even though times are hard now, R & D departments of big companies are inventing new technologies will create lots of new jobs, and it’s all just around the corner. Gee, I wonder if big business had anything to do with this. Actually, this did happen for the most part, but with prices that were not mentioned in this film. The film does provide a historically-interesting snapshot of futuristic thinking during the Depression.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Crispy Cheeser: The End? (film #1 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #11 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms (both on the page for The Adventures of Crispy Cheeser: Where the Sharks Are!). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Oh, no! Evil triumphs! But I guess that’s what you have to expect with a name like Crispy Cheeser.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Apollo, Segment 6015 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]This clip from a NASA film announces the Gemini space program, as well as the goal to put a man on the moon by 1970. Mildly historically interesting.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Castle (film #1 in the 0800013 Operation Castle section of DOE Nevada). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Very short color clip of an atomic explosion. That’s it, folks.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Believe It or Not #2 (film #5 in the Schools section of TVArk). [Category: Educational]Very short clip of the opening credits of an episode concerning “Life and Death”. With such an important subject, you’d think they would have included more.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
California Cotton Mills (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1803 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Silent footage, probably from the 20s, of cotton being unloaded, spun into thread, and woven into cloth in a big mill. It’s mildly interesting factory footage with some historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Goodtimes, 1990. Also, Image Entertainment, 1997 (DVD)). [Category: Early Film & TV]This landmark German expressionist film set the tone for horror for years to come. A strange doctor comes to a village fair with a "somnambulist" who tells fortunes. Soon after his arrival, strange murders start happening. A young man solves the mystery by discovering that the doctor is the head of a local insane asylum and is using a strange cabinet to carry out the experiments of an 18th-century crazed monk named Caligari in controlling the behavior of a catatonic patient, including making the patient commit murder. The young man calls on the law to confront the mad doctor Caligari, who ends up locked up in his own asylum, raving mad. But the story is told in the young man's flashback––and he turns out to be the insane one! This is one weird film, especially for its time. Especially weird are the bizarre, twisted sets––everything that should be straight …
Hey Folks! It's Intermission Time, Vol. 6 (Something Weird). [Category: Commercial]Lots more snack bar promos, lots more local ads from strangely-named businesses, and a collection of title cards and campy promos from exploitation movies highlight this volume. Starts with a bang, with the thoroughly evil James River Smithfield Barbecue ad, and ends with a bang, with a campy "sex hygiene" promo for Slightly Damaged. Lots of great ephemera in between, too.
Highlights:
I'm not going to describe the evil barbecue ad I teased you with in the main revue because that would lessen its impact. But be duly warned that it deserves a Bucky Beaver 5-Star Evil Warning.
Other additions to the Bucky Beaver Evil List: the Firm Security Systems speaker thieves announcement (look for the sign of the big red fist––that franchise must have been a big hit behind the Iron Curtain), and the bizarre, incoherent 7-Up promo featuring a dorky teenage couple. Though the carnival barker in the hamb…
Suicide Theater unsold tv pilot excerpt (film #5 on TV Turkeys (Rhino, 1987)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]I don't understand why this show didn't sell. I mean, doesn't a weekly drama anthology on the subject of suicide sound like a great idea for a series (Warning! Sarcasm Alert!)? And the pilot even takes a humorous spin on the subject––it features a guy who's too poor to commit suicide (hyuck! hyuck!)! Just what kinds of drugs where those network executives taking when they came up with this idea? Of course, this makes it a must for ephemera collectors. I'm sure Ellen Corby put this on her resume when she auditioned for "The Waltons".
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.