Highway Hearing (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #668 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

Another 50s film about highways. This one shows a fictional town called Connorsville, whose citizens are all up in arms because the proposed superhighway will bypass the town. But our friendly highway engineer convinces them that the bypass will make their town better rather than worse, and soon everybody is smiling about it at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. This film was obviously made to convince small-town folk just like the ones in the film to let their towns be bypassed by the Interstate. Whether it actually helped or hurt them can be seen today. One would hope that they weren’t as easily swayed back then as the people in this film, but considering today’s results, I doubt it. This does have historical interest as a document of the arguments that got the Interstate built.

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

About a Door (film #1 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #11 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #6 in the Drama section of Brickfilms. Also, film #1 in the Documentary section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

A strange door appears in Legoland, with a huge sign ordering people not to open it. This, of course, causes insatiable curiosity in the Lego guys about what’s behind it. Curiosity leads to controversy and controversy leads to violence. This is an interesting premise, but I found the ending to be somewhat unsatisfying, because it leaves things unresolved. Still, this is an ambitious concept for a brickfilm, and the story moves along well. I also liked the wide variety of characters that were created for it. Obviously a lot of care went into this, and it shows.

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

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

A BBC news report from 1992 reporting changes in the Cabinet after an unexpected upset in the elections. This has some historical value, but it’s pretty dull.

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

Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 2, No. 3 (film #300 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Another silly newsreelette from Chevrolet. This one features bathing beauties diving into a pool from the top of a Chevrolet (these Leader News segments are always mercifully free of safety concerns), a man who kept his 1913 Chevrolet in mint condition being rewarded by being given a new Chevrolet, a 7-foot tall man (but no woodpecker) who inspects the tops of Chevrolets coming off the assembly line, smelt fishing by driving your Chevrolet into the water and allowing the fish to swim into it (so that’s where that fishy smell in some people’s cars comes from!), and a really silly dog tea party, with the guests, as usual, being hauled to the party in the trunks of cars. Is there no end to animal abuse in the name of increased Chevrolet sales??

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

Desert Empire (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #620 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]

This Universal travelogue (featuring the ultra-cool giant-letters-going-around-the-earth Universal Pictures logo) tells us everything we'd ever want to, and never want to, know about Utah, including way too much information about copper mining. The narration is some of the most bombastic I've ever encountered, making this film extremely mstable. Still, I must admit that this is well-made; the visuals are striking for the most part and the narration, bombastic as it is, keeps things moving. So despite its laughable moments, this is one of the better travelogues I've seen––it even makes me want to visit Utah. And since it was made in the 30s, it has a great deal of historical interest to offer as well.

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

Ain’t That Just Like Me (film #6 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #5 in the Juke Box Movies section of Bedazzled. Also, film #4 in the Scopitones section of Bedazzled. Also, film #9 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]

Very 60s Scopitone featuring The Condors singing “Ain’t That Just Like Me.” If you want go-go dancing, this is your film––the lead singers enter the stage by walking between the legs of gyrating dancers! If you can get past the female objectification, this is a lot of fun.

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

BBC News and Newsreel (film #16 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Opening credits for a 1954 BBC newscast. This has cool rotating letters, sort of like the old Universal Pictures logo. A great little relic from early British tv.

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

Becky Sharp Trailer (film #10 on SabuCat Movie Trailers). [Category: Commercial]

This trailer has quite a bit of historical value, as Becky Sharp was the first feature film made in Technicolor. The trailer trumpets this, showing scenes in both black-and-white and color, so audiences would be wowed by the difference. Other than that, it’s a standard trailer for a period drama.

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

Cinderella (film #533 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This is a sign-language version of Betty Boop’s Poor Cinderella. The interpretation is frequent and intense here, and I can’t help but think that perhaps the assumption here was that deaf kids are not familiar with the story of Cinderella, and that this interpreted cartoon was meant to rectify that situation. Considering that Cinderella is played by Betty Boop in this cartoon, that’ll leave ‘em with a pretty bizarre idea of Cinderella, sort of like the image I had when I was a kid of Scrooge being Mr. Magoo.

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

Heritage of Splendor (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #668 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

Ronald Reagan narrates this 60s anti-littering film, sponsored by a big oil company, in which he tells us that big corporations are in no way responsible for pollution, but our public lands are a mess because individual citizens are litterbugs. This is pretty much what you’d expect from this kind of film, with a mildly disturbing scene of a child dressed in a freaky-looking litterbug costume locked in a cardboard cage. Eventually, Reagan threatens to close all the National Parks if we don’t clean up our acts and stop acting like pigs already. Tell that to Exxon, Ronnie, though I will make an effort to keep a litterbag in my car.

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

Body Care and Grooming (MST3K Episode #510: The Painted Hills. Also, film #3 on Disc #4 of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Rhino, 2003). Also in the Epehemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #227 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

This college-level health film is not only about the importance of good personal hygiene, but also stresses the "appropriateness" of dress, meaning dress like everybody else. A great example of 50's conformity at it's most insistent. Hygiene films are almost always fun––there's something so earnest and simple about them. One wonders what its college level audience thought about being talked down to so much. The msting is great––I especially like the sound effects they add to the scene of dead skin cells shedding.

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

The Accident (film #1 in the Action section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

A Lego guy takes a spill from his motorcycle and gets carted off by the rescue squad. Told ya those things are dangerous!

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

BBC News Late Headlines (film #21 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]

A late-night update from 1979 on the fragile medical condition of Yugoslavia’s President Tito, given by a British newscaster who doesn’t look too chipper himself. This has historical value, mainly.

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

Auto von Heute (film #292 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This is a 60s commercial for the Trabant, an East German car that was even more hated than the Edsel, but because they were the only car available, millions were sold. The commercial is long, with a kitschy 50s feel, though it’s a lot more campy if you know the story behind the Trabant. Still, this is quite fun, even if you can’t understand German.

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

Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 2, No. 2 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #299 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Another lightweight episode in the Chevrolet newsreel series. This one features a town that named itself after Chevrolets, an alligator wrestler who totes his opponent in his Chevrolet (I bet the upholstery in the back seat didn’t last long), cops who practice appearing in gangster movies by shooting out of their Chevrolets, a large boat tied to the top of a Chevrolet (I guess boat trailers hadn’t been invented yet), a humorous spot about parking meters (which seem to be a new idea, giving this some historical value), and some silly stunts at a water carnival, including an extremely dangerous-looking greased-pole contest. Silly and mildly historically interesting.

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

Chaplin - Mabel's Busy Day (film #35 in the Silent section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

The Little Tramp gets into a tussle with a feisty female hotdog vendor at a racetrack. This eventually escalates into a brawl involving most of the spectators at the race. This one is kind of hard to follow, but some of the physical schtick is amusing.

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 ...