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Showing posts from 2005
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Army-Navy Agree on Merger (film #68 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]40s newsreel featuring stories about the merger of the US armed services, border skirmishes in Greece, the retirement of longtime Secretary of State James Byrnes, a feud over who has the legal right to be governor in Georgia, a cute little kids’ fashion show, and a fairly creepy story about the fur business which features fur animals in tiny cages and a bizarre fashion show of stuff made of fur, such as a fur bikini. Animal lovers will find this upsetting. Mostly, though, this is a fairly ordinary newsreel.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Commander of the UN Forces (film #7 in the Korean War section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This newsreel clip documents President Truman stripping General Douglas MacArthur of his command during the Korean War. The clip gives a short history of MacArthur’s military career but fails to say much about why Truman fired him. Still, this has some historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Dateline: Tomorrow (film #398 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Now this is an industrial film! It not only has lots of excellent factory tour footage, but it shows how little metal tags off things are made, a real fascination of mine. It also shows all kinds of neat-looking aluminum products, such as hardware, kitchen utensils, office furniture, architectural details, bottle caps, aluminum foil packaging, and license plates. All of this stuff is accompanied by narration that says how modern and futuristic it all is, while the designs, when looked at from today’s perspective, are all charmingly retro. I guess this film proves that the future has officially become the past. I only wish it was in color, so that we can see brightly-colored aluminum tumblers in all their glory, and that it had a Mr. Product, like Aluminum Man in Aluminum on the March.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Bear That Wasn’t (film #18 on Disc #3 of Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 3 DVD (Warner Bros., 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]Charming 60s cartoon made by Chuck Jones and Frank Tashlin at MGM about a bear out of water, so to speak. A bear wakes up from hibernation only to find his forest has been chopped down and plowed over and made into a factory, Worse, the plant foreman refuses to believe he’s not a bear, thinking he’s just a recalcitrant employee in a fur coat. He takes the bear up the chain of command and each boss refuses to believe he’s a bear. The bear finally gives in to all this pressure when they show him some bears in a zoo, and they refuse to believe he’s a bear because he’s on the other side of the bars. This cartoon has a highly interesting and rather surprising theme of how groupthink does not necessarily equal truth. Considering it was made by a big company, it’s surprising the project saw the light of day. The story is charmingly animated in the sparse 60s sty…
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Burial of the Maine Victims (film #43 on Edison Film Archive. Also, film #14 on The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures). [Category: Early Film & TV]Remember the Maine? Personally, I’m too busy remembering 9/11, the Kennedy Assassination, and Pearl Harbor. Anyway, this film shows a long funeral procession of victims of the shipwreck that started the Spanish-American War. It’s basically a more dour version of the various parade films that Edison made. An 1898 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Felix the Cat Ducks His Duty (track #3 on Felix the Cat, Vol. 1 (Video Resources, 1994)). [Category: Hollywood]This one tells us where Felix got his cranky wife. After some upsetting experiences as a soldier, Felix discovers that married men are exempt from military duty, so he goes out and proposes to the first tabby he sees. He then discovers that the horrors of war are nothing compared to the horrors of domestic violence. This one is somewhat disappointing, in that it doesn't have much of Felix manipulating the environment. Still, the whole concept is bizarre, and some of the battle scenes are interestingly animated.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Automobiles (film #21 in the Daws Butler’s Cereal Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Cute animate commercial from the 60s for Ford used cars featuring that ever-recognizable voice. A guy trades in his magic carpet for a used Ford. It must be cursed, I say.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Doggone Tired (film #524 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This sign-language interpreted cartoon is one of the weirder ones. The original toon features a rabbit who tries to keep a hunting dog awake so that he won’t be able to get up for the big rabbit hunt the following morning. Most of the gags here, as you might expect, involve the rabbit making noises, a concept I have a hard time imagining deaf kids being able to relate to. Still, the interpretation seems to actually add to the proceedings this time, rather than being an intrusion, though I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole the line “How cute! The rabbit and the dog are sleeping together!”
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Don’t Spread Germs (film #6 on National Archives). [Category: Public Service]Clever little British PSA featuring the guy from Coughs and Sneezes being trained by an unseen narrator to use a hankie, for God’s sake, when sneezing. Then he’s trained to immediately place the hankie in a bowl of disinfectant. Considering how many sneezes there are in the average cold, this must have made the hankie manufacturers very happy, at least until Kleenex was invented. I somehow doubt that anyone did this, though. This is a fun PSA anyway.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
A-Hunting We Will Go: Chuck Jones’ Wabbit Season Trilogy (film #17 on Disc #1 of Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Vol. 3 DVD Boxed Set (Warner Bros., 2005)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This DVD featurette profiles that classic trilogy of Warner Bros. toons: Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit! Duck! You remember, the ones where Bugs and Daffy compete to confuse Elmer Fudd about what hunting season it is. The featurette combines making-of information with comments from admirers, as well as clips from the toons. The comments are generally intelligent and witty, and, of course, the clips are classic gags, making this a lot more fun than this sort of thing usually is. One would expect quality extras on these Looney Tunes sets, and this one doesn’t disappoint.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
CNN Millennium (film #2 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Logo and a very brief snippet of CNN’s coverage of the turning of the millennium. The logo is pretty cool, with lots of little clips of historical footage. Wish they would have included a bit more of the coverage, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Army Digs in for Defense of Arctic (film #66 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This 50s newsreels features all kinds of stuff, including military maneuvers in the Arctic (talk about a Cold War!), tanks in Spain (you’re welcome!), Billy Graham in Japan (all those who understand English get saved), a train wreck in Maryland (aka Death Rides the Rails), Christmas in February (complete with scary Santa), ladies’ fashions (complete with Plastron buttons), skiers experiencing the Agony of Defeat in the Winter Olympics, and stock-car racing in Florida. The variety of this one makes it fun, giving you a real feel for the 50s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Cheating (MST3K Episode #515: The Wild World of Batwoman. Also, film #4 on Disc #4 of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Rhino, 2002). Also, film #289 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]"So, is this Ingmar Bergman's first American film?" asks Crow, and it would seem so. High school big-shot John talks his sweet girlfriend Mary into providing him with the answers on algebra tests (he's too busy being a student council member to study). Eventually he gets caught and must suffer for his transgressions. Being kicked off the student council is the least of his troubles, though, as he is tormented by the disembodied head of the algebra teacher, dark lighting, depressing sets, and an incredibly loud ticking clock. This is one of the most depressing films I've ever seen. Never has the concept of shame been so aptly depicted. The triviality of the sin compared with the tone of the film creates a remarkable absurdity. And the msting is grea…
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Dateline Long Island (film #397 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film profiles Newsday, Long Island’s daily newspaper, and how it was rising to meet the challenge of a population explosion on the island that was part of the overall flight to suburbia that was going on at the time. There’s a brief, but historically interesting, section on Levittown, and an extended and quite fascinating segment on how the paper was printed, back in the old days of metal type. Mostly, this is a great film about Long Island in the 50s, about suburbia, and about newspaper publishing at the time. Not much is surprising, but this is a solid film with lots of historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Curtain Pole (film #3 on Before Hollywood, There Was Fort Lee, New Jersey DVD (Image Entertainment, 2003)). [Category: Early Film & TV]In this amusing slapstick comedy, a klutzy fellow tries to do a good deed by buying a new curtain pole for a young lady after he breaks her old one. Unfortanately, the guy can barely move without knocking everything and everybody over with said pole. When he hires a buggy to take him home, it gets a lot worse. This results in one of those legendary Mack Sennet cumulative chases. According to the narration, this was the first of those chases, giving this film historical value. And it's a lot of fun, to boot.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Cruise of the Zaca (extra on Disc #2 of The Adventures of Robin Hood DVD (Warner Bros., 2003)). [Category: Hollywood]This short features Errol Flynn and friends going on sea adventures on his sailing ship, the Zaca. Scientists are involved in the expeditions, which were ostensibly done to study sea life. The film, though, is mainly designed to show what a carefree adventurous life movie stars like Flynn live, who flies off to his ship on his private pontoon helicopter with only an apple, a banana, and a camera with him, to go on an extended sea voyage. This, I’m sure, satisfied the fantasies of the movie-going public in the way Hollywood never did better than during its golden years, when this film was made. Which means, for a film about a scientific sea expedition, it’s pretty entertaining, and it makes a fun extra for The Adventures of Robin Hood DVD.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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The Burglar’s Slide for Life (film #42 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]Ever have one of those days? You’re burgling a nice apartment in a high-rise tenement when the owners catch you and send their dog after you. You manage to escape out the winder and cleverly use a pulley to slide down all the clotheslines, but it turns out the dog is trained to do the same thing! Then once you reach the ground, the damn dog won’t let you drop! Finally, he goes away and you make it over a fence, but just when you have a chance to catch your breath at the top, the damn dog returns and pulls you down. Then the housewives come at you with their brooms and, well, let’s just say this was not a stellar day in the annals of burgledom. This is an amusing early film with a clever premise. A 1905 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Command Performance excerpts (film #4 on Disc #1 of Pearl Harbor: Before and After DVD (Triton Multimedia, 2001). Also, film #11 on World War II Remembered (Diamond Entertainment, 1995)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]More excerpts from the "Command Performance" radio show, featuring Dorothy Lamour, Bob Hope, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Jerry Colona, and Ethel Smith. This is pretty standard "Hollywood entertains the troops" stuff, but then they blindside you with a really weird musical short featuring singing cows animated Clutch Cargo-style doing a jazzed-up version of "Git Along Little Dogie". This segment is not to be missed. Bob Hope winds things up by singing "Thanks from America" to the tune of "Thanks for the Memories."
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***** (4 are for the singing cows segment). Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **** (an extra star was added for the singing cows).
Aunt Jemima Frozen Waffles (film #17 in the Daws Butler’s Cereal Commercials section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Do you remember Wallace the Waffle Whiffer, the repetitive thief of Professor Goody's Aunt Jemima Waffles? I bet not. But once you hear his annoying "Waffle, Waffle, Waffle", it will all come rushing back to you. (OK, I admit I lifted this straight from my review of Cartoons Celing Commercials, Vol. 1. But what else can you say about the Waffle Whiffer, except that he’s one of the most annoying advertising characters of all time?)
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Annoyance Factor: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Dolemite Trailer (film #9 in the Blaxploitation section of Bedazzled. Also, film #9 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #9 in the Trailers section of Bedazzled. Also, film #9 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Another fun blaxploitation trailer, courtesy of Bedazzled. It’s narrated by the main character, a hard-shootin’, hard-lovin’ black dude dressed to the nines. Nothing real surprising here, but it’s done with style and energy, and it’s over the top, so it’s fun to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Soul Quotient: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Felix the Cat and the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg (film #9 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004). Also, film #1 on Film Chest Vintage Cartoons). [Category: Hollywood]This is a later sound Felix toon, which means its far less interesting and creative. Felix battles Captain Kidd to win back his goose that lays golden eggs. This is really just a standard adventure toon––it could have just as easily starred Popeye as Felix. And when you can manipulate the environment as Felix can, who needs gold? Felix was really wasted here.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Coughs and Sneezes (film #1 on National Archives). [Category: Public Service]Amusing British PSA urging people to cover their noses and mouths with a handkerchief when sneezing. The narrator literally waylays an offender and teaches him proper sneezing hygiene with the help of a large pepper shaker. This is about as controlling as I’ve ever seen a PSA get, which is, of course, what makes it amusing. Remind me not to sneeze in England.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Acquaintance (film #1 in the Indie section of Movieflix). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]A private detective working on a rape case meets and converses with an old friend of his, who just might be…well, I won’t give it away. This is well made and conveys a lot for its short length, leaving you with an eerie feeling. Not bad for a Movieflix Indie film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Clouds of Venus (film #2 in the Science section of Movieflix). [Category: News]This NASA film from the early 70s documents the Mariner II unmanned spaceflight to Venus. Unfortunately, this was before such spacecraft could send pictures back, so you don’t really get to see much except lots of scientists and technogeeks sitting around monitoring the flight. This has historical interest, but it’s pretty dull going.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
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Argentine Admitted to World Parley (film #64 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel from 1945 featuring a story about Argentine being admitted to the United Nations. This is fairly dull, however the next story, about the Russian takeover of Berlin is grisly, as it shows dead Germans in the streets, townspeople attacking Nazi prisoners, Nazi torture devices, and corpses from a death camp. This is historically important, but hard to watch. Also included is a straightforward story about the Navy shooting down Japanese airplanes.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Charlie’s Atlas (film #288 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]I’m not sure what this film is supposed to prove. I’m not even sure it belongs in the Educational category. A little boy shoots off a bottle rocket and imagines it to be a rocket that goes into outer space. Or something. Short with no dialogue. Maybe it’s an industrial film, but it was made by an electrical company, not a company that makes rockets. The rocket Charlie looks at admiringly in the beginning is an ICBM, so this might be a Cold War film, except that the only reason I know that is because another reviewer on the Prelinger Archive mentions it in his review, not because of any hint the film gave me. Oh, I give up!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Dashes of N.Y.F.D. (film #1387 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This collection of silent footage of the New York Fire Department during the 30s is a lot of fun to watch. The first section feature technical details of the fire alarm system. Then it gets really exciting, as we get to ride in the fire chief’s car, viewing its rapid journey through the streets from the perspective of a camera mounted on the dashboard. This is exciting footage, not just because of its high speed but because the streets are snow-covered, the car has to go up on the sidewalk periodically to get past traffic jams (watch out, pedestrians!), and the action goes inexplicably upside-down at one point. Then we get to see the firemen fight a five-alarm warehouse fire. This is all a very historically interesting look into firefighting practices of the period, as well as being as exciting as, well, watching a fire.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating:…
The Crazy Ray (film #45 in the Silents section of Movieflix). [Category: Hollywood]Curious French 20s silent film about a nightwatchman on the Eiffel Tower who discovers all motioned stilled in Paris in the wee hours of one morning. People are still alive, but in a state of suspended animation and nothing moves. He eventually meets up with a group of rich playboy-types who arrive in an airplane. They have lots of fun looting the still world, until they get bored, and then things start to get unpleasant. They eventually discover a mad scientist who is responsible for the freezing of everything––he invented a ray that stops all motion. This ends up being less of a typical sci-fi adventure plot, and more a Twilight Zone-ish exploration of what people would do under these strange circumstances. Making this a great example of the science fiction movie in its infancy.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Charley Junior’s School Days (film #12 on National Archives). [Category: Educational]Animated British film from the 50s explaining the educational reforms of the time. Charley’s son, who is still in heaven waiting to be born, has all kinds of questions about what sort of schools he’ll go to, questions that are answered by a patient heavenly nursemaid. This is all charmingly animated, especially the scene of various merchants bringing all kinds of goods to the newly-built schools. A fun way to learn about how England’s school system changed during the post-war period.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Building a Harbor at San Pedro (film #24 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, film #41 on Edison Film Archive. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]A big steam-powered pulley on a pier picks up big rocks and throws them into the water. Lots of ‘em. Four minutes’ worth of ‘em. And the cameraman looks like he’s working up to a good case of seasickness. This sure gives you a good idea of a typical workday in 1901. A 1901 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Countryman and the Cinematograph (film #17 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The Eurpoean Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A bumpkin watches some short film clips (his first movies, obviously) and reacts predictably––dodging a train, etc. Too short to be of much interest, though. A 1901 R. W. Paul film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Avon (film #11 in The Modern 70s Woman section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Fairly standard 70s commercial for Avon. This has some historical value as the customer in the ad has just gotten a job, and the Avon lady is selling her lipstick and jewelry so she can have a professional appearance. Too bad she won’t be home for further Avon calls. A brief blip from the 70s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde Trailer (film #76 in the Trailers section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Fairly standard trailer for the gender-bending Hammer flick Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. This plays up the horror rather than the sex, so it’s not nearly as lurid as the title makes it sound. It actually looks somewhat classy, which makes it less interesting from an ephemera standpoint.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Charley’s March of Time (film #10 on National Archives). [Category: Public Service]Charming British animated film from the 50s meant to explain the National Insurance Act. Charley, a sort of British Everybloke, complains about the cost of the new government insurance plan, so the narrator shows him what it was like in the bad old days before any government help for people in need. In fact, he goes way back to the beginning of life on Earth. Since this is way overdoing it, Charley eventually relents, just to stop the time travel. This is a cute film that makes its point well and provides a great historical snapshot of the history of British social services.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Above/Under (“Oben/Unten”) (film #11 on German Cinema). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Experimental German film featuring people dancing to techno/noise music. Bizarre camera angles and tricks are experimented with, resulting in a moderately strange, trippy experience, though nothing as disturbing as The Buckskin Kid. The music really carries this one, having a bit more structure and interest than most techno/noise stuff.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Close-Up of TR’s Grave, 1920 (film #6 on Theodore Roosevelt). [Category: News]This is exactly what the title says: a close-up of Theodore Roosevelt’s grave that lasts about 11 seconds. No soundtrack, no movement, no nothin’. They might as well have just posted a still picture.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: *.
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Anglo-US Amity: US, British Pledge United Front (film #60 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel clip from 1961 featuring a dull story about talks between President Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold McMillan. More interesting are the stories that follow it, which involve Russian dogs into space, Khruschchev being presented with a sheep at a Siberian agricultural festival, automatic pilots for NATO B-47s, a zoo workers’ strike, and a German women’s soccer tournament. These last two stories are narrated in a smarmy fashion reminiscent of Chevrolet Leader News. A lighter-hearted slice of the Cold War.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Brief City (film #21 on National Archives). [Category: Industrial]This film documents the building and architectural design of the 1951 Festival of Britain, a world’s-fair-like exhibition held in London during the austere post-war period. As such, there is a dark backdrop to the film, unlike the usual cheery optimism that marks most world’s fairs. You get a sense that the hopefulness is a defense against despair, though in a healthy sense. The film is also very British, with the narrator explaining that many of the design decisions were made specifically to appeal to the British people––this is also a change from the internationalism usually touted at such fairs. The design is fascinating, involving not grand vistas, but little hideaways and cul-de-sacs, secret places for individuals to discover and enjoy. I personally love that sort of design, so I found the film very enjoyable on that level. This is one of the most unusual world’s fair films I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely worth a l…
Combat Fatigue: Insomnia (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #356 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This WWII vintage navy training film looks like it could have been made by Coronet, and not just because of the presence of Dick York. “Combat fatigue” was the term they used to use for posttraumatic stress disorder brought on by combat. Insomnia is a common symptom of PTSD, but here it’s treated like one of the teen “problems” found in Coronet social guidance films. Dick York is concerned about his buddy Buzz, who has a serious insomnia problem. Both sailors wear squeaky-clean uniforms and are stationed in a unit that looks like the worst combat it ever had to deal with was alcoholic fisticuffs. Actually, maybe not even that––these sailors’ main form of recreation seems to be watching Donald Duck cartoons. After having a trite conversation with Buzz about his lack of sleep problem, Dick finds he can’t get to sleep. Fortunately, help com…
The Conquest of Everest (film #1 on Side A of Disc #10 of Historic Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]This 50s documentary covers the first successful climb of Mt. Everest by British, New Zealander and Tibetan climbers. As usual for this kind of film, the footage makes you wonder about the difficulties the cameraman had to go through, which were just as arduous as the other climbers. The film is a bit slow-moving in spots, but that’s somehow appropriate, as the entire expedition was agonizingly slow-moving due to lack of oxygen at that altitude. Mostly, it’s an interesting story of an amazing climb that pushed the climbers to their limits. A bit of 20s footage from the unsuccessful Mallory climb is included, increasing the historical value of the film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Felix Monkeys with Magic (film #6 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]Felix’s master gets a magic book and begins tormenting Felix with various tricks. Felix gets his hands on the book by getting his master to turn himself into a mouse, allowing Felix to overpower him and steal the book. Felix then has various adventures where he manipulates the environment even more than he usually does, making this a fun cartoon.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Buffalo Police on Parade (film #22 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, film #39 on Edison Film Archive. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is your standard police parade, similar to Policeman’s Parade, Chicago. Watch for the smoking guy who has to run off to make room for all the cops. What, besides smoking, has he got to hide? An 1897 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Avenger Trailer (extra on Hercules Against the Moon Men/The Witch’s Curse DVD). [Category: Commercial]Fairly standard trailer for what looks to be one of the classier sword-and-sandal movies. Agnes Moorhe––uh, sorry, Steve Reeves fans should enjoy this. Others will find it pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Charley – Strangers (film #3 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Educational]Short, animated British film reminding kids not to go off with strangers. A little boy is lured by a strange man at the park to go look at his “puppies.” He almost goes, but luckily his cat Charley reminds him that this is not a good idea. Too bad most kids don’t have such superintelligent pets. This is charming and cute, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde Trailer (film #8 in the Blaxploitation section of Bedazzled. Also, film #7 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #8 in the Trailers section of Bedazzled. Also, film #8 in the Video section of Bedazzled. Also, extra on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde DVD (Kino Video, 2001)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Very silly trailer for what was probably a very silly, though violent movie, Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde, the blaxploitation version of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale. This mainly involves the African-American hero getting his face all made up in ghostly makeup and wearing googly contacts before he goes out and kicks peoples’ butts, instead of just kicking butt without cosmetics. Narrated entirely in rappin’ rhyme, and actually contains the line, “Don’t give him no sass or he’ll kick your ass!” Lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Soul Quotient: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Including This Long-Running Promotion for Reading and Libraries (film #6 in The Good Captain section of TVParty). [Category: Public Service]Charming animated PSA on the benefits of reading, showing how it opens up a wider world. This fits well with the “Captain Kangaroo” theme that frames it, and has a simple, nurturing quality, like the good captain himself.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Ambush (film #7 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #9 in the Drama section of Brickfilms. Also, film #1 in the War section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Very short, black-and-white brickfilm of several snipers encountering each other. I’m sure that one encounters this kind of situation in combat all the time, but that doesn’t mean we want to see it done in Lego bricks. Although it does have a twist en––WAHH!!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Count of Monte Christo (Video Yesteryear, 1996). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is really hard to follow if you're not familiar with the Alexandre Dumas novel it's based on. Part of the reason is the poor-quality print––peoples' faces are washed out, so it's hard to tell them apart, and it's practically impossible to read the letters that appear in the film (and many of them are important to the plot). But it seems to be a standard revenge tale. A man is unjustly imprisoned due to the machinations of three jealous comrades. He spends years digging his way out of his prison cell, only to find he's dug his way into the cell of another prisoner. This other prisoner promptly dies, but not before giving our hero a treasure map of the island of Monte Christo. And his death gives our hero the opportunity to escape by substituting himself for the corpse in the body bag. He ends up getting to Monte Christo and aquiring the treasure, and then returns home and sp…
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Civilian Conservation Corps (film #11 in the 1929 Stock Market Crash and Great Depression section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Silent newsreel footage of CCC crews building accommodations at national parks, with striking scenery in the background. At the end, there’s a sound clip of FDR having dinner with the boys and cracking mild jokes. This is a good historical clip that gives you an idea of what the CCC was all about.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Combat Bulletin No. 42 (film #2 on tape #7 of This Film Is Restricted (Marathon Music # Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]In this last Combat Bulletin of the set, you can tell that the war is winding down. In "Meeting of Allied Leaders," we see footage of the famous meeting of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at Yalta. In "Nazi Shipping Attacked Along Norwegian Coast," we see aerial footage of sea battles off the coast of Norway. In "New Air Crew Oxygen Bottle," resourceful GIs figure out a way to improvise a larger oxygen tank for use when crew members must repair the plane while at an altitude requiring oxygen (repair work requires more oxygen than piloting). In "St. Nazaire Truce for Civilian Evacuation," trains carry French civilians out of St. Nazaire, which is still held by the Germans. In "Capture of St. Vith," the workings of a captured German mortar are shown. In "Boots Improvised to Fight Trench Foot,&qu…
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America Not Secure Against Brute Force, Says Cordell Hull (film #57 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel clip from 1940 featuring Secretary of State Cordell Hull telling us that recent disturbing developments in Europe justify a beefing up of American military might. This predates American superpower status, and considering the events to come, it was probably justified. The film itself is rather dull, though, being Hull just reading his speech to the camera.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Countdown Leader, Technicolor Corporation (film #1812 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]A good example of a countdown leader, bringing you back to the days of 16mm projectors, and having to synch up sound with picture and making sure that the film is threaded correctly so you don’t get that sprockety sound. Lights!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Focus: A bit off. Overall Rating: ****.
Felix in Hollywood (film #1 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]Felix gets money for his owner to go to Hollywood by helping a bankrupt shoe store owner to sell his shoes by dropping wads of gum all over the street, so that people will get their shoes stuck in them. His owner, the ingrate, announces that Felix will have to stay home while he goes to Hollywood, so Felix masquerades as the man’s carpetbag so he will get taken along. In Hollywood, he meets animated versions of various silent screen stars, such as Charlie Chaplin and Ben Turpin, and gets his big break by helping a guy who was being tormented by some vicious mosquitoes. Again, this is a wonderfully weird, fun Felix, with shapeshifting and star cameos to boot.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Comic Strip (film #32 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Juke Box Movies section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Music section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Music Video section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Scopitones section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Serge Gainsbourg section of Bedazzled. Also, film #21 in the Television section of Bedazzled. Also, film #69 in the Video section of Bedazzled. Also, film #18 on Scopitones). [Category: Hollywood] Bizarre French Scopitone that appears to involve a male singer singing about, and to, a sexy female super hero, who provides the sound effects. The art direction in this is really cool, with balloons with cartoon sound effects painted on them and trippy cinematography. Those French sure have a sense of style.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Buffalo Fire Department in Action (film #21 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, film #38 on Edison Film Archive. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]We get to see a bunch of firemen rushing off to a fire, and this back in the days of steam-powered, horse-driven fire engines! This is a great image of something that no longer exists, which is what I really like to see in these early films. An 1897 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Attack of the Crab Monsters Trailer (extra on Attack of the Crab Monsters DVD (Allied Artists)). [Category: Commercial]Campy, fun trailer for the 50s sci-fi flick Attack of the Crab Monsters. Plenty of hyperbolic claims and cheesy special effects in this one. Watch for the scene where a guy in BVDs gets crushed by a giant crab claw. Fun, like most 50s sci-fi trailers are.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Amos ‘n’ Andy Cartoons (film #3 in the Amos ‘n’ Andy section of TVParty). {Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Clip from one of a number of cartoons made in the early 30s based upon the radio show “Amos ‘n’ Andy.” The characters are drawn in a very stereotyped way, but mostly this is typical Amos ‘n’ Andy stuff. Still, it’s a lot more offensive when animated this way. Bet these toons don’t see the light of day too often.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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The Long Street (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #851 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 50s film profiles the Salvation Army in California and attempts to convince the viewer to contribute to its Redevelopment Fund, a fund for expanding its facilities to meet the increased need for services caused by a population boom in California at the time. This is done very straightforwardly, focusing on showing all the different social services provided by the organization, and keeping the religious posturing to a minimum. This was probably wise, as it needed funds from as many quarters as possible, and not all of those quarters would totally agree with its religious philosophy. It actually comes off as fairly impressive and not campy at all, though I do like their giant $7,000,000 tambourine.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Also Thwacked Zarathustra (film #30 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #5 in the Music Video section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Millions of minutes ago, at the dawn of Lego, Lego monkeys were terrorized by a Lego T-Rex, until one of them finds a monolith made of Legos, and…well, I won’t give away the ending. This send-up of 2001: A Space Odyssey is a must for all brickfilm fans.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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City Gold Rush Starts (film #126 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]Brief newsreel story from the early 30s about gold being struck on a farm outside of Cincinnati. This, as you can imagine, causes a local epidemic of gold fever, which is reported breezily by the narrator. A slice of life from the desperate days of the Depression.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Allies Sign Control Law for Germany (film #55 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This newsreel from the days after V-E Day features stories on Allied generals dividing up control of post-war Germany, American soldiers touring Hitler’s private mountain hideout, General Patton visiting President Truman, a highly dangerous-looking technique for clearing fog from airports that involves burning gasoline, Norway celebrating its independence from Nazi domination, GIs going on R & R in Venice, and a government plea for private citizens to stay off trains and buses so that troops returning from Europe can be moved to the Pacific as soon as possible. There are no real surprises here, but it is historically interesting.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Copper Mining and Smelting (film #379 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This is, as you might suspect, a straightforward film about how copper mining and smelting is done. It’s actually pretty interesting considering its dry subject, since it sticks to the basics and doesn’t dwell too much on technical details. Fans of explosives will enjoy the scenes of ore being blown up real good with dynamite, and fans of hell will enjoy the scenes of the fiery furnaces. Unfortunately, the print is not in very good condition, being dark and hard to see in a lot of spots. Still, that makes the scenes of molten copper even more dramatic. And it has a cool ending card, with “The End” over streams of molten copper, making you think the end of hell is at hand.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Cautious Twins (film #8 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 8: Social Engineering 201 DVD (Fantoma, 2003). [Category: Educational]This cheesy, limited-animation educational film features Doreen and Dan, two squeaky-clean, perfect Gallant-inspired kids who always do what they’re told. Unfortunately, they live in a neighborhood where there are child molesters on every block, offering candy, rides, and puppies. They are even forced to have one of these creepy guys sit between them at the movies. Of course, since they are perfect, they scream bloody murder and run away from all of them. And they never go into the super-scary alley of doom. The cheesy limited animation, organ soundtrack, and rhyming narration make this a camp classic.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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La Cloche (film #5 in the Ephemera section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Juke Box Movies section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Music section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Music Video section of Bedazzled. Also, film #6 in the Scopitones section of Bedazzled. Also, film #1 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]French Scopitone featuring a pretty female pop singer who sings a pop ditty in a babyish voice while rattling a percussion instrument and going horseback riding with a couple of male companions. This is mild, perky 60s fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Buffalo Dance (film #37 on Edison Film Archive. Also, film #2 on Feature Films). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some Native Americans perform a buffalo dance. This is pretty strange-looking, but it was probably authentic, given its time period, so I’m not going to comment. It does have a lot of historical value, though. An 1894 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Another Remaining Season for Lost in Space (film #2 in the Irwin Allen’s Lost Sci-Fi Pilot section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Dr. Zachary Smith from “Lost in Space” tells us all about the new fall CBS lineup. Since he’s over the top, and he has to talk about the likes of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” this is great. In fact, it’s just him talking, making this better than most fall season promos.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Cleopatra Jones Trailer (film #5 in the Blaxploitation section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Movie Trailers section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Four words: Shelly Winters as “Mommy.” That’s right, not only does this trailer provide soul brothers, violence, hip ghetto lingo, huge Afros, and a feminist answer to Shaft, but it has an over-the-top performance from the queen of tv movies as the feminist answer to the Godfather. I’d say it has just about everything, sugah! Better protect the family jewels, fellas!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Soul Quotient: *****. Tough Babe Quotient: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
The Cord of Life (film #7 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 4: The Arrival of D. W. Griffith (Video Yesteryear, 1995)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A dastardly villain harasses a nice imigrant fellow––why is not made clear. At one point, the cad hangs the imigrant's baby out of a high window, arranging it so when the window is opened, the baby will plunge to his death. Will our hero make it back home in time to save the baby before his unknowing wife thoughtlessly opens the window? We get faked out in a number of ways as she almost opens it to dry laundry, clear out smoke, etc., but is always interrupted at the last minute. A fun melodramatic cliffhanger of a film. A 1909 D. W. Griffith film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Last Commercials He Filmed (film #9 in the Cigarette Advertising on TV section of TVParty). [Category: Public Service]PSA John Wayne made for the American Cancer Society during the late 60s. Although TVParty bills this as an anti-smoking PSA, Wayne actually doesn’t mention smoking at all, but instead urges the folks at home to go get medical checkups, attributing his life to early detection of his lung cancer. He’s actually pretty convincing, since he tells us his story in a way that pulls no punches. An interesting John Wayne relic.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Alternate Endings (extra on Freaks DVD (Warner Bros.)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]A narrator presents us with several alternate endings for the movie Freaks, created as a response to censorship efforts in various states. This is mildly interesting, though it would have been more interesting had they been able to get the original highly lurid ending that is described at the beginning of this segment. Still, this provides some interesting background information for the film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
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Chimp Into Space (film #123 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]Newsreel story about one of several US spaceflights where a chimp was launched into orbit to see if it would be safe for a man to do it. This is fairly interesting, though the chimp looks none too happy during his post-flight medical examination. A historically interesting newsreel from the early days of the space program. Next up: John Glenn!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Combat Bulletin No. 37 (film #1 on tape #7 of This Film Is Restricted Boxed Set (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]In "Additional Films of the Landing of Mindoro," we see more gritty and violent combat footage, including corpses, stuff blowing up, and stuff burning. In "North American Air Ferry Route to Siberia," war materials are flown to Russia from Montana by way of Canada and Alaska. In "Advance in Burma," engineers build roads and bridges in Burma to ease the way for troops and war materials to be shipped in. In "Nazi Version of Action in the East," we see captured German footage of the bombing of Warsaw, intercut with other aerial footage the Germans shot years ago, the narrator tells us. In "Factories in Paris Subway," we see Frenchmen in newly-liberated Paris taking apart a German aircraft factory that was built in a subway tunnel, so the tunnel can be used again for the subway. In "A…
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Allies Seize German Loot and Criminals (film #54 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Interesting newsreel from late WWII on German loot, especially artworks, stolen from conquered nations being discovered Allied troops after Germany’s surrender. Hermann Goering’s vast collection of stolen art is especially featured, and we get to see pieces from that collection. Also shown are various Nazi bigwigs who decided not to kill themselves being taken into custody for war crimes. Also included are stories about a British undersea gasoline pipeline and a victory garden at sea (this story is missing its soundtrack). Plus there’s a cool “Buy Bonds” ending, making this one of my favorite of the WWII-era newsreels.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Felix Goes West (film #3 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]Felix strikes out in getting a meal in his home town, so he decides to go west to the Land of Opportunity. There he has run-ins with a bear, a cowboy, and some Indians, who end up sending him back where he came from. This is a pretty ordinary Felix, though it does have a few amusing moments, such as how he takes care of the bear.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Consuming Women (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #374 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This looks like an excerpt from a longer 60s film aimed at marketing professionals which attempts to profile the “average woman.” A pretty but generic-looking model poses in various female roles, such as single women, wife, mother, secretary or little old lady, while the narrator tells us that “she” is all of those things, but mostly, “she’s a real person.” However, the female depictions shown are incredibly stereotyped and fake, leaving you with the impression that though the marketers of the time were trying to understand the needs and desires of women, they were horribly failing. The film ends with a bizarre sequence of the woman spending a lot of money for a gold-wrapped package, then looking horribly sad, which is an ironic image for a film supposedly showing women as consumers. I wish the whole film was available––it looks priceless.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Va…
Caught in a Rip-Off (film #2 on Sound of Centron DVD). [Category: Educational]This 70s Centron film is narrated by a teenage shoplifter, telling the story of how he was caught trying to shoplift a can of spraypaint from a hardware store and felt intense shame as a result. The narration of his story starts out cool, hip, and self-justifying, and gradually gets more and more overwrought as he discovers there is no way out from getting caught and having the police called. If you were a teen during the 70s, this film will probably bring back memories, and probably not pleasant ones. Memories of shame and humiliation. Still, these feelings were more likely to result from peer rejection rather than being confronted by a police officer. Even though it’s no fun to be arrested, the anguish shown by the main character of this film seems out of proportion to the situation. It’s not particularly campy, though, because the anguish seems all too real nonetheless. I doubt, though, that this had much…
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C’est Fou Mais C’est Tout (film #5 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Juke Box Movies section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Music section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Music Video section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Scopitones section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK!!!!!! French Beatles impersonators!!! They’re so dreamy!! But where’s Faux Ringo? He’s my fave! More early 60s weirdness dredged up for our pleasure, courtesy of Bedazzled.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Parade (film #20 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, film #7 on The Life of a City. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is basically just a very ordinary turn-of-the-century parade, with lots of people walking along side, folks. Bit of a disappointment considering that Buffalo Bill’s shows were have supposed to have been so exotic. A 1902 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Atom Age Vampire Trailer (extra on Bloodlust/Atom Age Vampire DVD (Madacy Entertainment)). [Category: Commercial]Campy, over-the-top trailer for what looks like an incredibly cheap dubbed 50s sci-fi film, Atom Age Vampire. Lots of bad special effects and bad dubbing in this one.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Black Belt Jones Trailer (film #3 in the Blaxploitation section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Movie Trailers section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Incredibly campy trailer for that stalwart of afternoon tv advertising, the blaxploitation flick Black Belt Jones. Highlights include the female lead giving new meaning to the term “doing the dishes” and Jones himself fighting a bunch of baddies in a pile of suds. This has enough silly sequences in it that you wonder of they were starting to parody the genre. At any rate, if you want a fun blaxploitation trailer, this is it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Soul Quotient: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Labor of Thy Hands (film #812 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 50s film, made by Hadassa, the women’s Zionist organization, tells us about the various vocational training programs the organization funds in Israel, and how they are bringing new hope to young people who previously had none. The Holocaust casts a long shadow on this film, though it is never explicitly mentioned. But there are all kinds of hints that the young people we see learning various job skills are mostly concentration camp survivors who not long ago had no reason to believe they would have any future at all. This lends the film a hopeful quality, as we see them given help to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, viewed from today’s perspective, an even bigger shadow is cast by the long history of war, violence, and terrorism that we now know was just around the corner for Israel. Still, you can’t blame the makers of this film for not being psychic, and viewed in the context of this time, it is o…
Copper Beaches (film #1 on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes DVD (Grapevine Video). Also, film #2 on Video Scrapbook #54: Sherlock Holmes - The Early Years (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Early Film & TV]An abusive father locks his daughter in a stable to prevent her from eloping, then hires a look-alike governess to act as bait in a booby trap for his daughter's fiance. But the governess gets suspicious and goes to Sherlock Holmes for help and the two of them plan a little booby trap of their own. Lots of hammy acting makes this a lot of fun. There is actually a scene where Sherlock Holmes literally looks for clues with a magnifying glass! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself supervised this production. A Warner's film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
AFeB (film #23 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #9 in the Drama section of Brickfilms. Also, film #2 in the Horror section of Brickfilms. Also, film #676 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This very short brickfilm shows us why clay is a toxic substance in Legoland. This was submitted into the “Anne Frank in Bricks” contest––obviously the Legoland version of Anne Frank’s diary is very different from the one in this world.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: BOMB. Overall Rating: ***.
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Chief Justice Earl Warren’s Tenure on the Supreme Court (film #5 in The Supreme Court section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Narrated collection of footage concerning a couple of the key decisions of the Warren court: school prayer and the Miranda decision. These clips are appropriate and fairly informative, and the narration adds context. No real surprises here, but this has some historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Combat Bulletin No. 36 (film #3 on tape #6 of This Film Is Restricted Boxed Set (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This is one of the grittier Combat Bulletins. In "Operations in the Phillipine Islands," we see offshore naval and beach battles near Leyte Gulf. Watch for a ship that bears the large legend "FUBAR." In "Troops Land on Mindoro," we see troops cleaning out captured Japanese strongholds, including some fairly upsetting footage of the body of a Japanese soldier who committed suicide rather than be captured. In "Activities in Italy," we see a flooded-out biouvac. In "Seized German Film on Work Mobilization," we see German newsreel footage of work conscription of the civilian population (I guess you could call this ephemera-within-ephemera). In "First Phase of German Counteroffensive," we see both German footage of soldiers enjoying the fruits of recent successes in the Battle of…
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Allies Open Final Drive on Germany (film #53 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel from the last days of the European war showing the Allied advance into Germany. Also included are stories about an intense air raid on a German city and starving American POWs being liberated from a Japanese prison camp. This is pretty grisly stuff for a newsreel. On the lighter side, there are also stories about a southern California rodeo and a vocational rehabilitation program for Canadian veterans, including rather silly footage of would-be barbers shaving balloons. This is a great wartime newsreels and it’s better preserved than most of the others on this site from the war years.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *** (entirely for the shaving balloons footage––the POW and battle footage gets an N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Felix Gets the Can (film #7 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]Felix goes to Alaska to get fish for dinner and ends up getting canned. This one is pretty ordinary, though it does have some farfetched logical twists and turns, such as Felix getting beaned by a can of salmon and deciding to go to Alaska, instead of just eating the contents of the can. Mostly, though, this is nothing special.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Consumers Want to Know (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #372 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This early 60s film gives a detailed and complete profile of Consumers Union, the non-profit organization that publishes Consumer Reports. The profile is very straightforward, reflecting the dedication to facts of the organization, an organization that does very good work. Unfortunately, this means it gets rather dull after awhile, because it goes into such detail. Still, the scenes of the various laboratory tests are pretty interesting––I want the cigarette smoking machine for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices (Smoking Section).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. CU Rating: Recommended with Reservations. Overall Rating: ***.
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Les Boites a Go Go (film #3 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Juke Box Movies section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Music section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Music Video section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Scopitones section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]French Scopitone in which a young woman in an op-art minidress dances the twist at a discotheque while singing the title song. Psychedelic camera tricks occasionally intervene. This is very representative of the mid-60s in style, making it a fun nostalgia piece.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Carnivorous Plants (film #12 on AV Geeks. Also, film #2 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 6: Religion DVD (Fantoma, 2003)). [Category: Educational]A creepy guy gleefully tells us all about how various carnivorous plants trap and digest innocent insects. Then he tries to sneak in stuff about how only God could have made such things, not any sort of evolutionary process. It comes off as saying only God could be that sadistic. I think God would be insulted by such a notion.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Bucking Broncho (film #36 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]A cowboy rides a bucking bronk until he gets bucked off. And when I say “cowboy,” I mean the real deal, folks––this was made in 1894. The guy on the fence better watch out with that pistol, though. An 1894 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Atlas Trailer (extra on Goliath and the Dragon DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Commercial]Mildly fun trailer for what looks to be a fairly campy sword-and-sandal flick, including lots of the standard sword-and-sandal elements, such as an evil ruler, a muscleman hero, the muscleman hero battling multiple enemies, and exotic dancing. Fun if you like this sort of thing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Dingbat Land (film #412 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This sign-language interpreted version of a Terrytoon is rather puzzling, as the vast majority of the gags are visual, so the need for interpretation is questionable. In fact, the interpreter is reduced at points to providing editorial commentary, such as, “Oh! That dingbat is so bad!” Also, there are no real dingbats in it; just a lame Tweety Bird ripoff. Dingbats are like this: **** (dingbats are replaced by asterisks).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Cook in Trouble (film #10 on More Melies (A-1 Video). Also, film #2 on The Movies Begin, Volume Four: The Magic of Melies (Kino Video, 1994). Also, film #11 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 6: Rare Films (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Trouble is right. A cook fails to help out a beggar, who turns out to be a magician in disguise. He retaliates by cursing the kitchen, infesting it with scads of imps who proceed to wreak havoc. And you thought those few mice in your kitchen were causing you problems! Lively fun, as usual for Melies. A 1904 Melies film. The version on The Movies Begin is the best of the bunch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Know for Sure (film #35 on AV Geeks. Also, film #4 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 1: Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2001)). [Category: Public Service]This 40s anti-syphilis film features several case studies of various people visiting a public health clinic to be tested for syphilis. The first case, featuring an outrageously-stereotyped Italian immigrant couple whose baby is born dead because of the disease, is fairly maudlin. Other than that, the film is surprisingly straightforward and unsensationalistic in its message. It’s an interesting example of how the subject was dealt with back in the 40s, though it does contain way too many close-ups of blood being drawn for my comfort level.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Adventures on a Talk Show (film #22 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]I guess one of the advantages of being a Lego guy is you can get away with really bad jokes. This brickfilm is full of ‘em, but because it’s a brickfilm, they come off as pretty funny, rather than the real groaners that they are. And the film somehow gets away with substituting arm-waving for the fact that you can’t make Lego guys’ mouths move (‘cause their just painted on). In fact, this Lego version of a talk show gets away with a whole bunch of stuff, and for that, I kind of admire it. It even includes a fake commercial, which ends with the worst joke of all, yet it made me laugh out loud.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Chairman Rodino (film #2 in the Watergate section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Brief clip of Chairman Rodino advising the House of Representatives on the procedure and implications of a vote on impeachment of Richard Nixon. This is pretty important historically, though brief.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Allies Fight Fierce Nazi Counter-Blow (film #52 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This WWII newsreel has some interesting captured German footage of places of amusement being closed down and Nazi women being drafted for war work. Following that is footage of Allied troops battling a German counteroffensive. Also included are stories about a rocket-firing plane, an appeal for recruits for the merchant marine, and a cute segment where children of diplomats wish us a Merry Christmas. This is one of the more interesting and lively of the WWII newsreels, giving you a real feel for the war years.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Combat Bulletin No. 35 (film #2 on tape #6 of This Film Is Restricted (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]In "Japs Raid Saipan B-29 Base," we see lots of stuff on the base burning. In "GIs Get Whole Blood from Home," new methods of packaging, refrigeration and shipment allow supplies of whole blood to last a lot longer than before, saving many lives. In "Black Widow and Jato," we get to see footage, previously classified as secret, of an experiemental bomber called the Black Widow, and of a handy-dandy portable jet propulsion system that can be attached to ordinary prop planes to make them take off faster. In "Activities in Burma," supplies are shipped into Burma by practically every means available. In "Activities in China," we see American troops slowly advancing in China. And in “Activities in the European Theatre of Operations," we see more of the Allied advance in Germany. This is a very …
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Construction Crews (film #2 in the 1950s: Blast from the Past section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]Silent color film footage of identical houses being built in the suburbs during the 50s. Nothing really surprising here, though this might be good footage for a documentary about the post-war housing boom.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Classic Entertainers (film #10 in the Exclusive Celebrity Footage section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Hollywood]Silent concert footage from the 60s of Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bobby Darin. Considering that these were musical entertainers, and they’re shown performing, it’s really baffling that this footage is silent––you’re losing more than 50% of the experience if you can’t hear the performance. This might have some value for documentary filmmakers looking for visual footage, but to the average viewer, there’s something horribly missing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *** (loses a star for being silent). Overall Rating: **.
Felix Finds Out (film #4 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004). [Category: Hollywood]Felix finds a nickel and gives it to his friend Willie, who buys a hot dog with it. Unfortunately, the hot dog turns out to be one of those singing and dancing ones from the snack bar promo and promptly runs away. Fortunately, Felix is able to use his feline wiles to trick the hot dog, as well as all his buddies at the stand. Unfortunately, this makes Willie late for school, and as a result he is saddled with the homework question, “What makes the moon shine?” Felix resolves to find the answer for him, but after the Man in the Moon proves unhelpful, he discovers a moonshine stand, gets drunk, and starts hallucinating. Hey, I just review ‘em, I don’t promise they make sense.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Brook Trout Fishing (film #18 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]A guy fishes for trout in a stream. This is so utterly fascinating that another guy comes out of the background to watch him. This gripping plot would later be stolen by many directors of home movies. A 1902 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
At Midnight, I’ll Take Your Soul Trailer (film #15 in the Trailers section of Movieflix). [Category: Commercial]Trailer for a Brazilian horror flick from 1964. For 1964, this looks pretty darn scary and disturbing, meaning the trailer did its job well.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.