Army in Space and Under the Sea (film #39 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This early-70s episode of “The Big Picture” documents the army’s early experiments with rockets and missiles that were precursors to the space program, and various forms of experimental deep sea diving. It’s pretty standard for the most part, with a definite pro-army spin to everything. Lots of footage of rockets taking off and of deep-sea diving here, if you’re a fan of that.

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

Check the Neck (film #1 on AV Geeks). [Category: Industrial]

Straightforward 60s film for emergency personnel for dealing with persons who have had a laryngectomy, and thus breathe through a hole in the neck. This is important information to know and it’s presented in a straightforward non-sensationalistic manner, so you don’t want to laugh at this film at all. One interesting part of it features a picnic of such people, and they’re all chatting away with each other, using the “esophagal method of speech,” which sounds suspiciously like the same process kids use to burp on command. Still, there but for the grace of God go I––these people actually deserve admiration for coming up with a new way to communicate. All in all, this is an interesting film, but not one to laugh at.

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

Additional Bit of Dialogue (film #19 in The Lost Lucy Themes section of TVParty). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This is a bit of dialogue between Fred and Ethel from an episode of “I Love Lucy” that was cut for syndication. It mainly involves Fred making jokes about Ethel’s appetite. This has mild historical interest, especially for Lucy fans, but mostly is pretty ordinary.

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

Aesop and Son (film #10 in the Daws Butler’s Cereal Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]

The “Aesop and Son” characters from “Rocky and Bullwinkle” pitch Cheerios. Somehow, this involves beavers (not evil ones, fortunately) and what was probably the first usage of the term “power breakfast.” Ordinary, but mildly fun, as Jay Ward characters usually are.

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

Purely Coincidental (film #23 on AV Geeks. Also, film #10 on The Educational Archives, Volume Four: On the Job DVD (Fantoma, 2002)). [Category: Industrial]

This maudlin industrial safety film has a convoluted plot. It features two guys who like to hunt––one who works in a dogfood plant, the other in a food processing plant. Both plants are chockfull of food handling violations, which are announced by scary synthesizer whines on the soundtrack, but which are nevertheless completely unnoticed by anybody. The guy who works in the dogfood plant uses a drill to fix a broken canning line, creating iron shavings which he casually brushes into an empty can. Before he can dispose of the can, he is called away from the line, and another clueless worker puts the can on the line to be filled with dogfood. Meanwhile, the guy who works in the food processing plant gets grease all over his fingers fixing a broken packaging machine, then later handles dough with the same greasy fingers. By an incredible coincidence, his prize hunting dog is killed from eating the can of dogfood with the iron shavings in it, while a package of contaminated food from his plant is eaten by the dogfood plant guy's little girl, who gets a bad case of food poisoning and has to have her stomach pumped, causing her mom to go into hysterics (good thing she wasn't Eggbert's mom!). Both guys complain bitterly to their friends that those guys in those other plants just don't care about food safety. Then they meet and befriend each other at a hunting lodge, still clueless about their coincidental attachment. Oh, the irony! This is one of the most labored films I've ever seen. The film makers try so hard to sell their point and are so unconvincing. There should be some sort of award for that.

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

Cabin in the Sky (recorded off of Turner Classic Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This 40s all-black cast musical was not made for black audiences, but for white, so there are stereotypes aplenty. Eddie Anderson plays a hapless gambler who gets a reprieve from hell provided he clean up his act in six months. Ethel Waters plays his good-hearted, religious wife Petunia and Lena Horne plays the temptress Georgia Brown who keeps getting him into trouble. Although the stereotypes and general portrayal of African American culture is awful, the cast, as you might expect from the names I just mentioned, often rises above the material. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a movie containing more black talent of that time in one place. Duke Ellington’s band provides the music and there’s even a cameo by Louis Armstrong as a minor devil who plays a smokin’ horn. This is also one of the few all-black cast films that had a sizable budget, and it shows. It’s too bad all this talent had to work with material that made them look (or tried to make them look anyway) ignorant, simple bumblers, in order to satisfy the prejudices of white audiences. But that’s racism for you. As you might expect, this is lively and fun if you can get past the stereotypes.

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

Date with Duke (film #2 on George Pal Puppetoons (Loonic Video)). [Category: Hollywood]

Duke Ellington conducts some anthropomorphic perfume bottles in a smoother-than-ice rendition of his "Perfume Suite." Then he accepts the challenge of an evil perfume-bottle-sprite-guy who insists that he doesn't like music and hates to dance, that is, until Duke produces some irresistably toe-tapping music. Only in animation and probably only in ephemeral animation do you see such goings-on presented as if they make perfect sense. Which they do.

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

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things . Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers t...