The Big Lift (film #1 on Side B of Disc #6 of War Classics DVD Megapack). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas star in this fictionalized account of two air force men involved in the Berlin Airlift, when the U. S. Air Force flew in food and supplies to Berlin after the Soviets blockaded the city. What is unusual about this film is that all the other American military personnel in it were played by the real GIs involved in the airlift. The story is personal, however. It involves the two main characters each getting involved with women in Berlin. Clift almost gets suckered into marrying a woman who is trying to get into the U.S. so she can hook up with her German lover there, while Douglas, who is anti-German after having had traumatic experiences as a P.O.W. during the war, becomes more sympathetic to them after teaching a German woman what democracy is all about. The film is intelligently made for the most part, showing the complexities of the situation in post-war Berlin. It shows that the roots of many of the German’s corrupt and unethical behaviors come from post-war social disintegration, the need to survive, and the corrupt values they were taught as children in Hitler’s Germany, yet it also doesn’t let them off the hook for them. It also shows that a desire for revenge, though understandable, can nevertheless have painful consequences if it is acted out, in a disturbing scene where Douglas beats up a German man who may have been a prison camp guard who tormented him (the film doesn’t totally tell us whether the man actually was the guard, or whether he just looked like him––this makes the scene far more disturbing), then discovers that he feels worse instead of better from doing that. A few other scenes are a bit farfetched and pat, especially the scene where Douglas’ girlfriend finally “gets” the Constitution, but they are outnumbered by the more intelligent sequences. An interesting, if Hollywoodized, portrait of post-war Berlin, and the American military’s experience of it.

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

Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 1, No. 3 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #297 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

More silly “news lite” from Chevrolet, including the wonder of self-mixing cement trucks; the controversy over which house in St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest house in America; more lame yux about old car ads; a bizarre-looking experimental car that looks like it may be Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car (or a rip-off thereof); jewelry inspired by auto design; a lame joke about car interiors that block out noise; military vehicles made by Chevrolet; and, in yet more animal abuse news, using a live Chihuahua as a hood ornament. The most interesting segments are the experimental car and the one just mentioned about the poor dog who is not only forced to be the first smashed in a crash, but must wear dorky-looking glasses as well. PETA, where were you back in the 30s?

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

Bathing at Atlantic City (film #15 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]

It looks like back in ought-one, the beaches were just as crowded as they are today. But the people wore a lot more clothes in the water. A slice of turn-of-the-century life. A 1901 Edison film.

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

Babes in Toyland Trailer (film #7 on SabuCat Movie Trailers). [Category: Commercial]

Trailer for the 30s version of Babes in Toyland, starring Laurel & Hardy. This is quite fun to watch, as the graphic design is wonderful and some of the most visually striking moments are chosen to show, particularly the stop-motion animated wooden soldiers. A great relic from the 30s.

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

The Chocolate Princess (film #69 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Sign language version of a 70s cartoon with an anti-racist message, narrated by Bill Cosby. In this one, they experiment not just with having the interpreter break in at various points, but with inserting boxes on top of the characters with interpreters, in costume, playing the various roles in sign language. This gives the film a weirdness the other interpreted cartoons don’t have. The Chocolate King looks especially strange and surreal. It’s also curious that although the cartoon has an anti-racist message, the girl playing the sign-language “Chocolate Princess” is white, as are all the other sign-language actors. They deserve points for getting creative here, though.

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

Guide Dogs for the Blind (film #1827 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

Newsreel clip from the 50s about the training of guide dogs for the blind. Pretty straightforward, with some nice images of the dogs.

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

After the Taping Was Over (film #2 in the Lucy’s Backstage Battles section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Clip from an episode of “The Lucy Show” in which Joan Crawford guest-starred. In the text of the page, they mention that Crawford sounded drunk in this performance, and they’re right, though I might not have noticed it if I hadn’t been alerted beforehand. The one who really made me laugh, though, was Gale Gordon. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that he was the real comic talent in “The Lucy Show.”

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

BBC Nine O’Clock News #1 (film #9 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]

Opening credits and the first few seconds of a BBC Nine O’Clock newscast from 1973. Straightforward, with some historical value.

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

The Battle of San Pietro (film #2 on Side B of Disc #12 of War Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This film documents the Battle of San Pietro, one of the most bloody and difficult of the Italian campaign in WWII. For the most part this is rather slow-moving and dull. However, there are some striking images of bodies being put into body bags, and multiple graves being dug, giving you an idea of just how bloody this battle was. And the ending, in which we see the townspeople of San Pietro emerging from the caves where they had been hiding, is fairly moving. Mostly, though, this is straightforward, and it could have had at least 15 minutes of it edited out without really losing anything. Unless they were trying to show us the boredom of combat, in which case they succeeded.

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

Atlantic Imperial Gasoline Promo Film (film #6 on Sell Sell Sell DVD (A/V Geeks)). [Category: Industrial]

This clip from a film for gas station owners is pretty darn strange. Similar to The Battery, it combines female objectification with bizarre attempts at humor. The most jaw-dropping moment is a scene where an obviously insane woman wheels out a clean carburetor and treats it like a baby, chewing the scenery in the process. Other highlights include stock footage of Castro and Kruschev dubbed to sing the praises of Atlantic Imperial gas, and supposed “hidden camera” footage of various weirdos who pull into gas stations. I wish they had included the whole film––it looks like a winner.

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

Bass Fishing (film #14 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A nattily-dressed turn-of-the-century dude trolls for bass in a mountain stream. Eventually, he catches a nice specimen. But you should have seen the one he caught when the camera stopped rolling. A 1903 Biograph film.

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

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Trailer (film #6 on SabuCat Movie Trailers). [Category: Commercial]

Campy trailer for one of the all-time great bad movies. No real surprises here, but you do get to enjoy a scene with the incredibly lame giant hand effect. And the movie is so much fun that the trailer can’t help but be.

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

Child Bride Trailer (film #33 on SabuCat Movie Trailers). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Lurid trailer for the cheapie exploitation film about the not-so-charming redneck practice of marryin’ ‘em off young (like, about 9 years old, from the looks of the girl in this film). This actually looks like a pretty disturbing film. I’ve not seen it, but my experience with these kinds of films is that they’re a lot less offensive than their advertising makes them out to be. If that’s true of this film, then this trailer did a pretty darn good job of making it look creepy and awful. Let’s hope it is just good advertising.

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

Give Yourself the Green Light (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #602 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This is another 50s film about the problem of bad roads. Since it was sponsored by General Motors, the solution, of course, is to build lots and lots more roads. Huge superhighways! Huge parking lots! Everywhere! This was supposed to solve the problem of traffic jams. Well, all the roads got built and the amount of cars seemed to expand to fit them. This is a great film for learning how we got where we are today in terms of huge freeways and parking lots everywhere. It would take building all the roads encouraged in this film before people would start to notice any downside to paving paradise and putting up a parking lot.

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

The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet #6 (film #6 on Side B of Disc #1 of TV Favorites DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Ozzie and Harriet discover a little ghost town in the middle of nowhere, and they meet an old-timer who tells them the town used to be named Harrietsville, after a woman named Harriet. Harriet thinks it might be her great aunt, and so she convinces Ozzie to spend the night there. In the middle of the night, Rick and about 100 of his college student friends show up abruptly for no apparent reason. Of course, this bizarre plot is really just a setup for Rick to sing a couple of country songs. It’s interesting how far the writers fell backward in order to shoehorn Rick’s performances into the shows, but it’s nothing later sitcoms wouldn’t do to accommodate celebrity guest stars.

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

BBC News and Campaign Report #1 (film #19 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]

Standard-issue opening credits for a BBC political campaign news report. This comes live from a newsroom, a type you don’t often see anymore. Other than that, this is ordinary.

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

Battle of Midway (film #1 on Side A of Disc #4 of WWII: The Ultimate Collection DVD Boxed Set (Brentwood Home Video, 2004)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This battle film was obviously made for the home front, as a propaganda piece. It’s in color, for one thing, which was unusual for the period. And it features the voice over of a little old lady, who comments on the soldiers periodically, mainly telling us how she remembered them as little boys. These sequences are pretty campy today. Other narration is kept to a minimum, so we can take in the striking images of death and destruction. You really get a feel in this film that the cameraman was in mortal danger. The ending is a great piece of propaganda, featuring title cards that tell battle statistics, which are then painted over by a hand wielding a huge paintbrush dripping with red paint. This film is quite fun to watch, and is so well made you might find yourself getting caught up in the fighting spirit after awhile.

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

Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 1, No. 2 (film #296 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

More breezy, silly “news” from Chevrolet. This one would never fly today, as it contains such safety violations as driving a car on railroad tracks (on the Key West bridge, yet!), stuffing a Shetland pony into your back seat, and driving while about 50 bathing beauties are sitting all over your car. The combination bus/streetcar is pretty cool, though.

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

The Bulleteers (film #15 on Feature Films). [Category: Hollywood]

Superman battles a gang that has a bullet-shaped rocket/car in this Fleischer toon. As usual, this has great art deco styling, and Lois Lane stupidly gets overinvolved in the situation, requiring rescue from Superman. The highlight is the scene where Superman mounts the rocket/car and opens it up like a can opener to rescue Lois. Lois, of course, gets the scoop, making me wonder how Clark Kent manages to keep his job.

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

ABC Network 1971 (film #5 in the Crazy Commercials and Unforgettable Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]

Mellow 70s “This Is the Place to Be” promo for ABCs 1971 prime time lineup. Inoffensive.

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

Cabin in the Sky Trailer (film #26 on SabuCat Movie Trailers). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Straightforward trailer for the all-black cast big-budget Hollywood musical. The graphic design of this has that wonderful 40s modernist look. Of interest is the fact that the two female stars, Ethel Waters and Lena Horne, are featured in the trailer, while the male star, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson is not mentioned at all!

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

Face of Youth (film #485 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This stark 50s mental health film shows us the role public health nurses have in safeguarding the mental health of a community’s children. Two boys in particular are featured, Alex, a class clown and troublemaker, and Ralph, a meek, anxious, people-pleasing kid. Alex’s problems are easily solved by putting him on the school safety patrol, where, supposedly, his desire for attention is channeled in a healthy direction. Ralph’s problems turn out to be more difficult, so he is referred to the local Child Guidance Center, where, after reassuring his mother that it is not “a place for crazy kids,” he is given play therapy. Pretty soon, he gets real angry, and this is supposed to be an improvement somehow, though this is hard to buy from today’s perspective. This film is similar to Angry Boy in subject matter, but in style it is stark and depressing. Although competent soundtrack music appears intermittently, many scenes are inexplicably silent. And the narrator sounds like he’s one of the walking dead. The boy who plays Ralph does a good job of looking genuinely anguished, and his pain seems understandable in the bleak black-and-white world he has to live in, a world where darn near everybody looks depressed. And whereas the therapist in Angry Boy was genuinely warm and caring, the therapist in this film seems wooden, as if he memorized his interventions from a book somewhere. The ending is disturbing, since although Ralph has plenty to be angry about, and obviously needs to move in the direction of more assertiveness, violent acting out will hardly make things better for him. The narrator tells us that limits were set on Ralph’s acting-out behaviors, but we are not shown this, and frankly, the therapist seems so bland that it’s hard to believe he could set and enforce any limits with an acting-out child. Overall, this is a dark, depressing, yet interesting film that has lots of footage to mine for video projects, especially if you’re making a video about depression.

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

The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet #5 (film #5 on Side B of Disc #1 of TV Favorites DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This mildly silly episode of “Ozzie & Harriet” features Skip Young, the TV Turkeys guy, as lazy Wally, Rick’s college fraternity brother, and his silly study system, which involves sunglasses, earmuffs, sardines, and standing on your head. Unfortunately, the other guys in the fraternity think Wally’s sudden burst of good grades has more to do with his job in the Administration Office, where the tests are stored, than his “never-fail” study system, so Rick helps him to prove himself honest by babysitting him before a big test. Silly, slightly surreal sitcom fare.

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

BBC News #3 (film #22 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]

Well, it’s just after 6 o’clock, at time for the penguin on top of your television set––uh, I mean time for a short clip from the BBC announcing the evening news, with a world map graphic. Brief, standard, and very British.

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

Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see ...