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Showing posts from January 16, 2005
Crowded Out (film #373 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 50s film exposes the problem of school overcrowding during the baby boom and how it makes it hard for teachers to teach effectively. An elementary school teacher labors over her letter of resignation after a school year in which her class size doubled, causing her to have to get rid of the piano, the class library, and tables containing class projects in order to make room for more desks, and to neglect the individual needs of her students. One little girl, Kathy, has trouble with reading, and after her incredibly bitchy and intrusive aunt complains to her single mother, the mother gets all up in arms and meets with the school principal to try to get the teacher fired. But the principal asks her to take a tour of the school before judging, and this gives her a chance to see classes being held in hallways, the school library, the auditorium, a Quonset hut, and even the boiler room in the basement! This gives h…
Boats (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #226 on Prelinger Archive.). [Category: Educational]This ERPI film should have been titled Dick and Jane Go on a Boat Ride. Nancy and Roger go on a boat ride down the Hudson River and the narrator tells us all about it in a bright, simplistic fashion. For an ERPI film, though, this is pretty darned exciting. The soundtrack is full of boat whistles and water sounds and there’s even a part where characters talk to each other in synchronized sound!! This is when Nancy and Roger visit the captain of the boat, who tells them that when he turns the wheel this way, it makes the boat go to the right, and when he turns it this way, it goes to the left. This is great msting fodder, folks. See Roger and Nancy on the boat. Go, Roger and Nancy, go!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Chaplin - By the Sea (film #28 in the Silent section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]The Little Tramp gets into a tussle with two married couples, some cops, and an ice cream stand at the beach. As usual, the Tramp leaves chaos wherever he goes. A mildly amusing Chaplin outing with some brilliant moments of physical schtick. A 1915 Essanay film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet #2 (film #2 on Side B of Disc #1 of TV Favorites DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]In this episode, David has to work at home for a couple of days and keeps getting annoyed by his wife June. June is usually portrayed as pretty sensible, but in this episode she’s so annoying it makes you want to scream. Apparently, housewives have nothing more to do but hover around their husbands when they are working at home, or so this episode seems to imply. Since this is not very true to June’s character, it just screams sexism. Still, this is so bland that it’s not as annoying as it might be. And it ends with Ricky singing with his band, which is not too bad.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
BBC News #1 (film #17 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Opening credits and a brief clip from a 60s BBC newscast. Gives you some idea what newscasts were like in England back in the days of black-and-white tv.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Atom and You – Second Episode (film #132 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Breezy 50s newsreel documenting various peaceful uses of atomic energy, mostly in research. This mostly involves exposing animals to radiation in various ways and studying its effects, though everybody’s favorite use of atomic energy––radiation treatment of cancer––is also gone over in detail. The presentation of research on the safety of nuclear power plants at the Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington is ironic when viewed from today’s perspective, since Hanford turned out to be one of the worst nuclear facilities in terms of leaking radiation into the environment. Overall, this is fairly straightforward, with just enough irony to keep it interesting.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Butcher, the Baker and the Ice Cream Maker (film #5 on Sell Sell Sell DVD (A/V Geeks)). [Category: Industrial]The butcher and the baker have been abandoned by the candlestick maker, who would rather make more candles than sing at the Mother Goose Festival (workaholism, anybody?). So they travel around Mother Goose Land until they find a friendly ice cream maker who is willing to join their trio, after giving them a tour of his ice cream factory and expounding on the virtues of square cartons for ice cream. All of this is animated with rhyming dialogue, but for once, children are not the expected audience for this torture, but other ice cream makers, in order to sell them square ice cream cartons. I’m not sure who thought this was an effective way to sell to these customers, but it does leave us with a film with a fair amount of camp value, especially the song about the helicopter they use to toodle around Mother Goose Land, which contains lyrics that tell us all about how high the…
Christmas Comes But Once a Year (film #5 in the Christmas Specials of the 60s and 70s section of TVParty). [Category: Hollywood]Clip from the cute Fleischer cartoon about Christmas in an orphanage. The children wake up on Christmas morning and grab their stockings. That’s it. Wish they had included all of it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Alive and Kicking (film #1 in the Schools section of TVArk). [Category: Educational]Opening credits and first few minutes from a 70s British educational show. Ironically enough, this actually has more the feel of an educational film, since the soundtrack wavers a bit and we hear the clackety-clack of film going across sprockets. The show features a British mom getting her two young children up in the morning, and it’s charmingly realistic and very British. One of the more interesting TVArk Schools clips.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Animated Buffers Featuring Ricky and Lucy (film #1 in The Lost Lucy Themes section of TVParty). [Category: Early Film and TV]First we see the cute animated buffers that appeared as transitions to commercial breaks in the original run of “I Love Lucy.” Then we get to see a great campy commercial for Fluffo Shortening. We’re supposed to admire the golden brown color Fluffo gives fried chicken compared to chicken fried in The Other Leading Brand, but in grainy black and white, what’s the difference? Then it goes to the closing credits for “I Love Lucy,” featuring a bizarre animated guy in pajamas. A great sampling of mildly weird early tv.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Anastasia (film #5 on SabuCat Movie Trailers). [Category: Commercial]Fairly standard trailer for the big budget 50s movie about the woman who would be the Russian princess. The movie looks competent but unsurprising.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Black Gestapo (film #29 in the Trailers section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]OK, get this. A “Watts Army” of African-Americans fighting against crime, drugs, and corruption is ineffective until it turns into “the Black Gestapo.” I guess it’s classier than the Black KKK would be. Seriously, though, there is something pretty disturbing about this ultra-violent blaxploitation film from the 70s, though I can understand the anger behind it. Actually contains the line, “You stinkin’ honky!”, though the rest probably won’t make you laugh.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Three Smart Daughters (track #9 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager). Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1513 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Commercial]Another "minute movie"––really a 60-second commercial––made to show in movie theaters of the 1930's. Three teen-aged girls are upset when Daddy won't pay for new dresses for the big party––a friendly Singer salesman takes them to the local Singer Sewing Center where they learn to sew––they are the belles of the ball in their new homemade dresses and everybody lives happily ever after. Already the condensed story form of the commercial is down. Though one wonders how many in those Depression-era movie audiences could relate to this at all other than as pure fantasy.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Community Health in Action (film #325 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 50s film exhorts communities to beef up their health departments, by showing all the things an ideal health department does, ranging from keeping statistics on births and deaths, regulating milk production, inspecting the sanitary conditions of restaurants, holidng well-baby clinics, vaccinating pets against rabies, getting farmers to replace their outhouses with indoor plumbing, running a child guidance clinic, and more, more, more! This results in a detailed document of public health practices during the 50s, and a fairly interesting one to boot. And although it’s not particularly campy in and of itself, it does present many opportunities for msting, as the narrator often pauses at significant points, which just beg to be filled in with smart-ass comments.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Close Harmony (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #352 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]General Motors made this wartime film to explain to the general public why it was taking so long for factories to retool for war production. A guy in a barbershop explains to everybody in the shop that retooling involves not only installing new machinery, but getting new materials, drawing up new manufacturing plans, and retraining workers. In case this gets boring, there’s an African-American porter present to provide comic relief in the form of racist stereotypes. This film has the breezy Jam Handy style applied to wartime content, which means its fairly campy, though the main character’s lecture gets tedious after awhile. It does have quite a bit of historical interest in that it gives you an idea of some of the rumors going around about war production in the early days of the war.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Inte…
Round and Round (track #11 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager). Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1275 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Capitalism is explained extremely simplistically via primitive puppet animation. Little toy workers make little toy widgets in a little toy factory. Other little toy puppets buy the widgets with large coins, then those same puppets sell little toy raw materials to the factory, so it can make more widgets. It's hard to tell who this movie was made for. I don't think it's a children's educational film, but it's certainly on a kindergarten level. Again, it tries to convince us that capitalism is a perfect system that makes everybody happy. But if that were so, why did they need films like this?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet #1 (film #1 on Side B of Disc #1 of TV Favorites DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]In this episode of the bland sitcom, David goes back to work after his honeymoon and spends the day playing telephone tag with his wife. Nowadays cell phones would have solved this problem. This is a particularly lightweight episode of “Ozzie and Harriet.” Mild tension is supposed to be generated by David’s fear that June will be angry at him for not being able to get ahold of her, but you just know she’ll be understanding, and she is. Still, this is so inoffensive that it’s not even annoying, and the blandness becomes mildly enjoyable after awhile.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
BBC Election ’97 (film #23 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Brief opening credits sequence to coverage of the 1997 British elections. Not much here to even comment upon.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: *.
Daydreams (film #4 on Side A of Disc 2 of Comedy Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]Buster Keaton loves his sweetie. Sweetie loves Buster. Buster and Sweetie want to get married. Problem: Sweetie’s father doesn’t think Buster can support her. So Buster takes off for the big city to make his fortune. There he screws up various jobs in that brilliantly incompetent way that only he can, while sending back glowing letters to Sweetie that only stretch the truth a little bit (OK, a lot). This is another wonderfully funny Buster Keaton short, with brilliantly timed slapstick gags, including a chase scene that gets more and more ridiculous as it goes on (they really knew how to do ‘em back then). Loads of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Army Transfer to NASA (film #814 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Silent footage of the dedication ceremonies of the U.S. space program’s official transfer from the military to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This mostly involves bigwigs making speeches, which lessens the usefulness of this as a document, since it is silent. There’s also a marching band and a milling-around festival we don’t get to hear. Somebody making a documentary on the history of NASA may find this useful, unless there’s footage of this with sound still around somewhere. For others, it’s just a random historical blip.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Artificial Respiration (film #5 on AV Geeks). [Category: Industrial]A very 70s film made for miners on artificial respiration. It’s pretty straightforward for the most part, though there are a few campy moments where they show examples of situations where artificial respiration may be required, such as showing drowning person as a hat floating on the surface of the water (Bing Crosby––oh no!!) or showing an incredibly stupid auto mechanic working on a running car in a closed garage until he becomes overwhelmed by carbon monoxide. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was the standard by the 70s, so it’s surprising to see several older methods demonstrated, though briefly. Mostly, though, this is your standard first aid film, with surprisingly little mining content.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Blasting Cap Danger (film #222 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]This cheaply-made film tries to warn kids away from playing with blasting caps. Tag and Chuck, after bullying Kathy, who bragged about a cookout her family was going to have for her father’s birthday, ride their bikes up to visit Mr. Barrow, the local bicycle repairman and demolitions expert. While they wait for Mr. Barrow to fix Tag’s bike, Chuck finds a blasting cap and decides to sneak into Kathy’s family’s cookout and throw it into the barbecue grill. Tag doesn’t like the idea, so Chuck takes off in a huff, vowing to do it by himself. Tag lingers behind to help Mr. Barrow load his truck with various items you can use to blow things up, and this gives Mr. Barrow the opportunity to lecture Tag on the dangers of blasting caps. Tag suddenly realizes that Chuck’s little prank could result in serious injury, so he races his bike back to Kathy’s house, only to see her lying on the patio, apparently unconscious. …