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Showing posts from April 17, 2005
Bird’s-Eye View of San Francisco, Cal. from a Balloon (film #3 on Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire. Also, film #28 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]This one really is a bird’s-eye view of the rooftops of 1902 San Francisco. It would have historical interest if it wasn’t so dark and blurry. A 1902 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
The Alligator People Trailer (extra on The Alligator People DVD (Fox, 2004)). [Category: Commercial]Campy, fun trailer for The Alligator People, that classic of silly 50s sci-fi horror. You’ll be pulled down into the quicksand of terror, in Screaming Horrorscope! Or die laughing, you decide. Great fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Technicolor for Industrial Films (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #2 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 1: The Rainbow Is Yours CD-ROM (Voyager). Also, film #1481 on Prelinger Archive. Also, film #23 on Ephemeral Films CD-ROM (Voyager) (excerpts)). [Category: Industrial]In the 1950s, people went color crazy. New technology allowed advertising and products to be made in all kinds of bright colors and consumers ate it up, which is why so much 50s stuff seems so garish today. This industrial film was made for industrial filmmakers (even they weren't exempt from watching this stuff) to try to get them to make their films in Technicolor. All kinds of brightly-colored products are shown while the narrator tells us how they can only properly be portrayed in Technicolor. Strangest moment: While the narrator talks about "family dinners we all know and love", we see the mixing of a scotch and soda. Most mstable moment: A black maid helps her white mistress get …
Cupid Gets His Man (film #66 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]There’s lots of sign-language interpretation in this one, but for once, I think it’s necessary, since the story involves cultural conventions that deaf kids may not be familiar with. Of course, the idea that deaf kids need to be exposed to such bizarre concepts as a cupid firing squad is not questioned. But I guess hearing kids get plenty of exposure to these bizarre old cartoons, so we might as well not leave the deaf kids out. I just hope the kids watching this won’t come away with the idea that human reproduction somehow involves a roulette wheel and rubber stamps.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Inner City (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #754 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This pitch for the United Fund in St. Louis focuses on how the United Fund agencies help people with disabilities and orphaned children. It’s fairly tearjerking, especially the soundtrack, yet I didn’t find it to be insufferably so. Of course, it was made in the days when people with disabilities were portrayed as pitiable creatures, yet the often well-shot visuals often don’t bear this out. This gives you a good idea about how charitable funds were solicited back in the 50s, and how those funds were used.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Aladibababad (film #15 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #14 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #1 in the Fantasy section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This is one of the most entertaining brickfilms I’ve ever seen. It features Ali Baba and several of his 40 thieves, a cave of treasure that is opened with a Burger Doodle jingle, treasure that is ignored in favor of a rare Pokemon card, a plucky hero that keeps fooling an evil bottle genie with the same trick over and over, and a very brief “action” sequence. The biggest strength of this brickfilm is its script, which is very funny, but it also has well-done animation, funny special effects, and a folksong for the end credits. This is one brickfilm not to miss.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: *****.
BBC World News – Live Coverage (film #25 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Cut-in bulletin from the BBC announcing a 2003 terrorist alert. This is a little recent to have much interest, but should have more interest as time goes by.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
Air Force Gets a New Theme Song (film #110 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]A chorus sings an air force theme song I’ve never heard of, while lots of different planes fly. A slice of mid-50s patriotism.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 3, No. 2 (film #303 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Warning to all animal lovers! This edition of Chevrolet Leader News takes animal abuse to new heights! No more dogs packed in cars––this quote-newsreel-unquote has two very upsetting scenes of animal abuse. The first involves the capture of a beautiful old sea turtle, who is strapped upside down to the boat for purposes of humiliation, then strapped to the top of a Chevrolet (remember the name, folks!) while the narrator gleefully delights in telling us he is going to be turned into turtle soup and eyeglass frames. The other segment involves two cats who are forced to fight each other in a miniature boxing ring with mittens on until one gets knocked out (though I must admit the doggy journalists look like they are enjoying themselves––must be the liquor). In between are stories of a deluxe horse trailer for police horses, an invitation to a lawsuit involving a golf instructor hitting golf ball…
Bamboo Isle (film #521 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Hollywood]This early Betty Boop features the Royal Samoans for some real island flavor, plus lots of racist depictions of island natives, again in a frustrating mix. Still, there’s the usual weirdness and anthropomorphic inanimate object, making this pretty fun to watch anyway. View it in the context of its time period and have fun. By the way, Betty Boop dances a hot hula.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *oX
a Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Devil's Foot (film #7 on Sherlock Holmes: The Early Years (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Hollywood]In this 1921 British short, Sherlock Holmes solves the mystery of a couple who are mysteriously found dead in their home without a sign of struggle. Interestingly enough, once he figures out the who the real killer is and his motive, he covers up the crime and lets the police believe another man did it. It's an interesting premise, but it's rather dull in execution and the print is of poor quality, so it's hard to see.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Bird’s-Eye View of Dock Front, Galveston (film #29 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is not a bird’s-eye view, but a panoramic view of the Galveston docks, which look pretty darn primitive by today’s standards. This would have some historical value, but it’s hard to see. A 1900 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes Trailer (extra on The Abominable Dr. Phibes DVD (MGM, 2001)). [Category: Commercial]Classy trailer for the classic hamfest The Abominable Dr. Phibes, starring Vincent Price, who leaves no piece of scenery unchewed. This trailer is well-made and a lot of fun, like the movie. Ah, Vulnavia!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Bottle and the Throttle (track #4 on The Educational Archives, Volume Three: Driver's Ed DVD (Fantoam, 2002). Also, film #232 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]Bill has a few too many "beach party beers" before driving, and ends up running over a woman and her little girl, killing the girl and paralyzing the woman for life. His punishment: he is relentlessly harangued by Sid Davis' narrator for the rest of the film. Fortunately, he doesn't have to watch any gory footage, but then, he's only 18.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Crazy Firehouse (film #67 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Another sign-language interpreted cartoon, and it’s a pretty silly one, featuring a pathetic group of animal firemen who are no match for anthropomorphic flames. The flames are actually pretty scary, as they are shown actually burning up some of the firemen, though in a humorous way, turning a pig into a smoked ham and a wiener dog into hot dogs. The sign language interpretation, though frequent, is not particularly intrusive, and does seem to clarify the action for the deaf kids. I’m just surprised this one was chosen for interpretation, considering it is more violent than what is usually considered acceptable for children today.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
How to Buy Meat (film #710 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This is actually a series of short segments on meat buying, made by the USDA and featuring a bland early 70s housewife who wears wonderfully outrageous early 70s housewife fashions. I love this sort of home economics thing, of course, though this is a little drier than most. Still, you would expect that from a government film, and it’s fun to groove on the housewife’s changing fashions, the huge cuts of meat she caresses so lovingly, and the “early American” kitchen she inhabits. Don’t forget to write for your free pamphlets on meat grading!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Ahead of Time (film #2 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #124 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #43 in the Drama section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This brickfilm is very hard to follow. It seems to involve a pair of burglars who defy the police and death itself. But it’s hard to tell. The sound is very bad, though that may be an artifact of my avi player, and the lighting is murky. Too bad––it looked like there was an interesting story here, just told badly.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
BBC Evening News (film #24 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Extra BBC news report on the death of Pope John Paul II, showing the body lying in state in the Vatican. It sure doesn’t take long for these kinds of news reports to make it to the Internet, does it?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Air Defenses (film #2 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]50s newsreel featuring lots of cold war-related and conflict-around-the-world stories, including the testing of Nike Missiles, protests in South Korea, passive resistance protests in India, and the training of military helicopter pilots in France. In case this is too much war for you, they also included a “heartwarming” piece about a dog who saved a boy’s life. By the time 50s audiences got through this, they needed movies like The Blob for escapism.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 3, No. 1 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #302 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]In other Chevrolet news, bathing beauties throw baseballs at each other on the beach, then drive up into the mountains and throw snowballs at each other; the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens to traffic; people live in trailers; lobsters are trapped and sold to fancy restaurants; and dog food is made fresh and delivered to dog owners’ doors by the Dog Food Man. Must have been a slow news day at Chevrolet. No animal abuse this time, but two of the bathing beauties ride on the hood of the car all the way up into the mountains in those wacky carefree days before seatbelt laws.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Chaplin - The Immigrant (film #22 in the Silent section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]The Little Tramp takes a ship to America, in steerage, of course. On the ship he encounters a pretty woman and her sick mother and helps them out after winning some money in a card game. After they all make it to the States, he meets her again in a restaurant and treats her to lunch, only to find that the coin he found in the street that he was intending to use to pay for lunch has fallen through a hole in his pocket. This is a charming film with some great slapstick moments, such as our opening glimpse of the Little Tramp, and some shennanigans involving the coin mentioned above and a huge surly waiter. A 1917 Charlie Chaplin film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Ancient Fistory (film #17 on Film Chest Vintage Cartoons). [Category: Hollywood]Popeye plays Cinderella in this gender-reversed version of the tale, with Olive Oyl as the princess giving the ball, and Bluto as Popeye’s employer and rival. Popeye’s fairy godfather changes a can of spinach into a limousine that will change back at midnight. Popeye wins Olive’s heart, but Bluto butts in and foils Popeye with a cannon. Fortunately, at midnight, Popeye’s limo turns back into a can of spinach, which Popeye is able to use with the usual results. As it sounds here, this is a pretty wacked-out version of Cinderella, but that’s the great thing about cartoons––they can do this sort of thing and get away with it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Bicycle Trick Riding No. 2 (film #2 on American Variety Stage: Physical Culture. Also, film #27 on Edison Film Archive. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV] A guy does some not-very-impressive stunts on a bike, such as riding backwards and propping himself up unsuccessfully on the handlebars. Sid Davis would later make a fortune making films telling kids not to do this sort of thing. But back in 1899, it was entertainment. Hey, what did they have back then, RKOs? An 1899 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (extra on Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein DVD (Universal, 2000)). [Category: Commercial]Straightforward trailer for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Other than the rather silly assertion that the film is “SCARE-ewy!”, this is ordinary and unsurprising.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Brad Grinter, Nudist (extra on Blood Freak DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]A husband whose wife has a phobia about being nude brings her to a nudist camp as a form of “shock therapy.” There she sees lots of ordinary-looking folks with very noticeable tan lines frolicking and relaxing in the nude, and despite the fact that she originally had some bizarre voice running through her head saying something like, “Cooperate with your lover,” (or something, it’s hard to tell), indicating some incipient PTSD, she is quickly and totally cured of her phobia. This short features lots of bad acting, pathetically cheap-looking sets, and, unlike most nudist shorts, full-frontal nudity, men included. This makes it somewhat less sleazy than most, but it’s still pretty cheesy. The acting, in particular, is laughable, and the premise is far-fetched, smacking of sexual fantasy, which lessens any realism it might have considerably and indicates it probably had little audienc…
Walk-In Triple Feature #1 (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Commercial]Since this is a triple feature, it has two intermissions. Also since it's a triple feature, the intermissions are quite short, which is somewhat more justified in this case, since they needed to make room for another whole feature-length movie on the tape. Still, it makes it less interesting from an ephemera standpoint, although there are a few good moments, such as a nice print of "Let's All Go to the Lobby", an amusing "Giant Comedy Spookero" promo, and the "nutritious" Hollywood Candy Bars ad.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.