Community Growth: Crisis and Challenge (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #362 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This 50s film, made by the National Association of Home Builders, decries suburban sprawl, proposing that it be replaced by planned suburban sprawl. Actually, that’s being a little bit mean, as the film is quite even-handed and balanced in making its points, even to the point of saying that much more research needs to be done before we can really say what the definite solutions will be. Their advice must have been taken to heart, as many of their proposed ideas, such as cluster-built housing developments (you know, the kind where the streets are all curvy and there are lots of circles and you can’t find your way back into the main traffic grid to save your life), cul-de-sacs, and townhouses were adopted all over the place. There’s lots of historical interest in this film, as it gives you a good idea of the city planning problems created by the suburban housing boom during the 50s. And it has lots of fun graphics, such as the guy pointing to a screen containing a big question mark, a meeting where one of the guys I swear is falling asleep, or a planner looking over a big subdivision map and looking really stressed out. Lots of stills for future art projects, I say.

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

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