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Showing posts from May 8, 2005
The All-New Popeye Show (film #35 in the Children’s TV section of TVArk). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits for a late-70s British Popeye cartoon show produced by Hanna Barbara. This looks like it was decently animated and true to the spirit of Popeye, so this is mildly amusing to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Aloha Hawaii: Islanders Celebrate Long-Sought Statehood (film #1 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]Hawaiians celebrate the attainment of statehood in this newsreel story with flag-waving, festivals, and, of course, hula dancing. This is pretty much what you’d expect, though they also throw in a Cold War jab at the Commies for good measure.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Airbase Shelled: Soviet Rockets Used in Attack (film #111 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel story showing the aftermath of the shelling of an airbase by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. It looks like it was mostly the Vietnamese civilians who suffered from this. Sad footage.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Combat Bulletin No. 17 (film #1 on tape #2 of This Film Is Restricted Boxed Set (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This one is fairly standard and dull. In "Invasion of Southern France", the Allies invade southern France. In "Northern France", GIs mop up the last bits of Nazi resistance and liberated French towns return to normal. In "Operations in Burma", American, Chinese, and Indian troops gain ground in Burma and restore supply lines in recovered territory. We also see footage of Chinese solidiers training. "Japs Attack Task Force" shows us footage of an aerial/sea battle near the Marianas in the Pacific. There is a stark quality about this one––music and narration is kept to a minimum and even natural sound is sometimes missing. It feels war-weary, which the filmmakers probably were.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 4, No. 3 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #309 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]OK, folks, I’ve put up with the animal abuse in this series. I’ve put up with stuffing dogs in trunks. I’ve put up with dressing monkeys in humiliating costumes. I’ve even put up with them capturing a grand old sea turtle and tormenting it before killing it for its hide. But now Chevrolet has gone too far––they’ve taken an innocent cow and started it smoking! And then they milk her and feed the milk to children! Forget PETA––call out the Surgeon General for this one! Oh, and they also have silly stories about a parade honoring the school safety patrol, a guy who trades in his buggy for a new Chevrolet (and who now, with Chevrolet’s blessing, has no tolerance for other buggies on the road), a bunch of oil drillers playing around with nitroglycerine (don’t try this at home, kids), a guy who goes everywhere on stilts, and an archery instructor…
Betty Boop’s Rise to Fame (film #496 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Hollywood]A reporter interviews Max Fleischer and Betty Boop appears to show him her stuff by reprising scenes from the cartoons Stopping the Show, Bamboo Isle, and The Old Man of the Mountains. Although most of this cartoon consists of these repeated scenes, the scenes where Betty interacts with Fleischer and the reporter are lots of fun. You can tell this is pre-code, because at one point while Betty is dancing the hula in a scene from Bamboo Isle, the reporter’s pencil makes a gesture that is very close to being obscene! I love this sort of cartoon-character-comes-to-life toon, so I enjoyed this thoroughly.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Trouble with Women (film #48 on AV Geeks. Also, film #5 on The Educational Archives, Volume Four: On the Job DVD (Fantoma, 2002)). [Category: Industrial]This should really be called The Trouble with Sexist Foremen. Brad is upset when Personnel sends yet another women into his department. He complains that women have problems with absenteeism, not giving proper notice when they're leaving, and complaining about assignments. He insists that men never give him these problems. It's pretty obvious what Brad's problem is.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Boat Race (film #16 on America at Work, America at Leisure). [Category: Early Film & TV]Two boats manned by crew teams race towards a battleship. One of them wins. I guess you had to keep those sailors amused somehow. A 1905 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Alka-Seltzer (film #8 in The Most Memorable Commercials of the 1970s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]This Alka-Seltzer commercial from the late 70s features Speedy and Sammy Davis, Jr. singing together in a winter scene, promoting the Winter Olympics. Somehow, these two together end up a lot weirder than you might think. Sammy seems to be trying hard to be as cute as Speedy, at one point riding a tiny sled a la the Santa Claus Norelco commercials. Sometimes the combinations advertisers came up with to appeal to a broad audience ended up positively surreal in execution. The 70s in particular had a lot of these surreal moments. This is one of them.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Boogie Woogie Dream (film #3 on Side A of Disc #9 of Classic Musicals DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005) (in “Soundies Cavalcade")). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This has a lot more plot that the typical soundie. In a nightclub, after hours, a dishwasher, a paperhanger, and a piano tuner dream of performing in the club with Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra. They get their wish in their dreams, at least, and since the dishwasher is Lena Horne, and the two others are talented jazz pianists, they really smoke up the club. But, as they say in Hellzapoppin’, “Too bad they’re not in the show.” Or are they? Is that an agent and his wife sharing the dream with them? Lively and lots of fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
It’s Wanton Murder (film #775 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This strident traffic safety film from the 40s tells the story of a woman whose husband went out to fight the war and came home safely, only to be killed in a car accident, poor shmoe. It’s actually somewhat surprising for its time as it actually shows some gory footage from real accidents. It also shows the empty chairs of accident victims, making it a prototype of many other driver’s ed films to come.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Alaskan Pilot (film #1 on Side A of Disc #2 of Clutch Cargo: The Complete Series, Vol. 2 (Brentwood Home Video, 2005)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Another episode of that Adventurer Whose Mouth Is Not His Own. In this one, Clutch and his pals help a couple of old geezer prospectors in their fight against claim jumpers. The prospectors and their constant arguments amongst themselves are mildly amusing, and there are a couple of good cliffhangers here, but mostly this is standard Clutch fare.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Dying Detective (track #6 on Sherlock Holmes: The Early Years (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Hollywood]Made by the same company as The Devil's Foot, this silent short shows us how Holmes foils the evil Dr. Smith by letting him believe he was successful in giving Holmes a rare tropical disease. The story is full of twists and turns, making it more interesting than The Devil's Foot. Still, adapting Sherlock Holmes to the silent cinema is cumbersome––you really need dialogue to make the story flow. And again, the print is in poor condition, making it hard to see.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bread Lines and Soup Kitchens (film #3 in the 1929 Stock Market Crash and Great Depression section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Moving silent footage, some of it in color, of desperate unemployed people, some of them homeless, getting food from bread lines and soup kitchens, scanning employment notices anxiously, and sometimes being reduced to sleeping in doorways or going through garbage cans for food. These images are quite moving and have great historical value as a document to a desperate time in our history. Particularly striking is footage of San Francisco’s Mother Jordan dishing out soup to the hungry with both hands.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Armed Forces Display U.S. Might on Observance Day (film #176 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Another 50s newsreel with Cold-War-related stories, this time about a show of weapons on Observance Day (which includes some puzzling footage of women dressed in pioneer garb) and more about the war in Algeria. Also included are stories of the surviving Dionne quintuplets opening a flower shop, doctors using walkie-talkies which buzz obnoxiously (the precursor to today’s pagers, no doubt), and two stories about horse racing. Again, this gives you a feel for what was considered newsworthy during the 50s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Brothers and Sisters (film #5 on AV Geeks). [Category: Educational]Kudos to the AV Geeks Archive for starting to put up filmstrips. This filmstrip features Steve, a small boy with an older brother and sister and a baby brother. He gets frustrated with them the way all kids do, but then he has a bad dream that they’re gone, the way kids in most educational films do. This dream cures him of all sibling rivalry, leading to a wonderfully simplistic and unrealistic ending. This is pretty lively stuff for a filmstrip. The images of Steve’s dreams are great. It’s perhaps not as much fun as seeing the dream acted out for us on film, but it makes up for it by having lots of striking still images, any of which would look great on a t-shirt. More fun than you’d think a filmstrip would be.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 4, No. 2 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #308 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]More silliness from Chevrolet. This time, it’s stories on surfing, a truck that delivers supplies to a CCC Camp in Death Valley (this has some historical interest), photography, braking tests, and, in the usual segment on animal abuse, a wild deer kept as a pet and regularly locked in a car and made to wear a humiliating hat at dinner. The usual, but do I get the feeling they’re beginning to run out of steam?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Betty Boop’s Big Boss (film #497 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Hollywood]It’s the height of the Depression, so when Betty Boop sees a “Girl Wanted” sign, she comes on hard to the boss in order to get the job. After she gets hired, the boss comes on hard to her, but before you can say “sexual harassment,” she’s called out not only every cop in town, but the army and navy, too. This is a wonderfully weird and silly Betty, with anthropomorphic inanimate objects aplenty, and side jokes that you almost miss, such as the cops who are determined to arrest the boss for bad acting. Great fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Chaplin - The Vagabond (film #23 in the Silent section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]The Little Tramp is a down-and-out violinist in this one. After an unsuccessful career as a street musician, he encounters an unfortunate young woman in a gypsy camp who is overworked and regularly beaten with a whip by the gypsy boss. He cleverly rescues her, along with one of the gypsy wagons. Later, she meets and befriends an artist who paints her portrait. When the portrait is displayed in an art show, it causes a sensation. Turns out the young woman was the daughter of a wealthy family who was stolen by the gypsies a long time ago, and when her mother sees the painting she recognizes her long-lost daughter. Charlie gallantly refuses a cash reward for finding her, even though he is flat broke, and it looks like he will be left alone and destitute, but at the last minute, the young woman insists that they go back and get them. This is one of the better Chaplins on this site. It has …
Blanket-Tossing a New Recruit (film #30 on Edison Film Archive. Also, film #13 on The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures). [Category: Early Film & TV]Soldiers blanket-toss a new recruit, not being too careful about him hitting his head. They stop when it stops being fun. A slice of life from the Spanish-American War. An 1898 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Activision Games (film #22 in The Most Memorable Commercials of the 1970s section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]This is a silly commercial for Ice Hockey, where the storekeeper gets the customer all hopped up and violent before selling him the game. I guess games were so primitive in those days that they needed the retailers to incite violence in the players, rather than the games themselves.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Beggar at the Gates (extra on Blood Freak DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider].This 60s documentary about religion focuses on the changes happening in the churches at the time, and, in particular, a new interest in the ecstatic religious experience. For some, this is speaking in tongues, for others, it’s taking LSD in the Neo-American church, and for others, it’s bonding with others at Catholic teen retreats. The filmmakers take an objective tack to all of this, showing all different kinds of ecstatic experiences, allowing various members of the clergy to comment on all of it, and including some thoughts by a religious psychologist. Nevertheless, some of it is kind of creepy. Still, this is an excellent historical document of the tumultuous 60s and how it affected religion, with scene after scene drawing you in and keeping your interest an almost mesmerizing way. It belongs next to such films as Coffee House Rendezvous, Columbia Revolt, and Greenwich Village…
It Must Be the Neighbors (film #21 on AV Geeks. Also, film #12 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 8: Social Engineering 201 DVD (Fantoma, 2003)). [Category: Public Service]When Bill Duncan gets a Health Department citation for not replacing his rusted-out garbage can, he calls up an old college buddy at the department to see if he can get out of it. The college buddy takes this opportunity to tour Bill’s yard and point out such sanitation horrors as containers of standing water, which he is sure are already breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that spread yellow fever. Bill blames it all on the neighbors, as do all the neighbors. But since the health department guy has a mesmerizing, Pied-Piper-like effect on the neighborhood kids, they all spearhead a neighborhood cleanup campaign which their parents eventually reluctantly accept. The premise of this film is just as ludicrous as it sounds, and the level of acting talent supports this ludicrousness. That, and its rather dark portrayal o…
Air Race (film #2 on Side A of Disc #3 of Clutch Cargo: The Complete Series: Volume 1 DVD Boxed Set (Brentwood Home Video, 2005)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Well, now I’ve seen everything. The complete "Clutch Cargo" series is now out on DVD. This is that incredibly cheesy super-limited animation series using Synchro-Vox technology, which involves superimposing live-action lips on to cartoon characters’ faces. These cartoons were syndicated and shown on local cartoon shows with hosts, usually. Each story was divided into 5 episodes to run Monday through Friday. This episode features Clutch participating in a jet plane race and being repeatedly placed into jeopardy by scheming opponent Ace Condor. This is less weird than some of the other episodes, though some of Clutch’s escapes have got to defy several laws of physics. And he manages to win the race despite being seriously delayed several times, whereas Ace was not delayed at all. Meaning time must operate in hi…
The Bonus Army (film #5 in the 1929 Stock Market Crash and Great Depression section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Newsreel footage of WWI veterans protesting their lack of promised, and badly-needed, bonuses during the height of the Depression, and being attacked by the army after the crowd started to turn ugly. This is grisly footage of a scary time in US history, and yet one that is often forgotten. The footage has a very on-the-spot feel to it, giving this lots of historical values.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Arctic Sentinels: Building Rushed on Radar Defense (film #66 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This 50s newsreel features stories on the building of radar defenses in the Arctic, the testing of new kinds of missiles, an award being given by the President to a girl for saving her mother’s life, a couple celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary, a demonstration of an experimental turbine car, a fashion show, and the Master’s golf tournament. The turbine car is kind of unusual, but mostly this is pretty ordinary. It does give you a snapshot of 50s news, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Chevrolet Leader News, Vol. 4, No. 1 (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #306 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Another rather dull installment of Chevrolet Leader News, featuring magazine models, an offensive story about using a statue of an Indian as a target for braking tests, dull facts about industrial diamonds, a small town rebuilding after being wiped out by a flood, and, in the usual segment on animal abuse, rats being forced to perform on tightropes and jump through flaming hoops. Yawn.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Betty Boop and the Little King (film #293 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Hollywood]The Little King finds opera boring, so he sneaks out to the local vaudeville house to watch, and eventually participate in, Betty Boop’s trick horseback riding show. This is another later Boop, so it’s not very weird, but it does have some charming moments with the Little King and a pretzel salesman, and the Little King jumping rope with Betty and her horse. Mildly amusing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: ***.
Combat Bulletin No. 6 (film #3 on tape #1 of This Film Is Restricted Boxed Set (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]"Beachhead Operation" is a celebration of the various support personnel who make it possible for the GIs to fight at Anzio. Like bakers! Army bakers who knead huge vats of dough while bombs fall around them and produce hundreds of huge loaves of bread which are loaded into big cotton sacks and transported to the front where they are devoured by hungry GIs! Or accountants! Army accountants who toil away in a bombed-out basement at their huge manual adding machines to get the GIs' pay out on time! Or mapmakers! Or telephone operators! Or those guys who stretch out those long coils of barbed wire over the countryside (can't have a war without 'em!)! This is one of my favorite films in the whole This Film Is Restricted series. Because it focuses on the jobs in the "unsung hero" category, it's full of un…
Blacksmith (film #1044 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Early Film & TV] Three blacksmiths pound on a piece of metal, then pass the bottle around. I guess this was before employee drug tests were common. A slice of working life from 1893. An 1893 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Amphibian Man Trailer (extra on The Amphibian Man DVD (Russian Cinema Council)). [Category: Commercial]Trailer for the early-60s Russian movie The Amphibian Man. This is somewhat unusual as they used very little of the film’s soundtrack in the trailer, substituting classical music instead. This looks like Russia’s answer to The Creature from the Black Lagoon, except later you find out it’s just a guy in a suit. Hey, I didn’t give it away––the trailer did!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Answer to Open the Door, Richard (film #2 on Side A of Disc #9 of Classic Musicals DVD Magapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005) (part of Soundies Cavalcade)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This soundie could be called "The Steppen Fetchit Rap", which gives you an idea of how enlightened the portrayal of its main character is. The song and the soundie both involve the attempts of a band to get a very lazy African-American man to get up and open his front door (why, they don’t say). Turns out he’s on his honeymoon, which gives the film a whole new bizarre twist I’m not going to touch with a ten-foot pole. Weird.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
A Touch of Magic (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #7 on Our Secret Century, Vol. 1: The Rainbow Is Yours CD-ROM (Voyager). Also, film #1539 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Nuveena's at it again in this sequel to Design for Dreaming. This was made in 1960, near the end of the populuxe era, and you can tell––the magic seems to be fading from this sort of film. Nuveena and her beau dance a tribute to medieval chivalry, but when the audience shows up, they actually look embarassed (that was certainly not a problem in Design for Dreaming). The time shifts to the present and the couple displays the 1961 GM cars. Then they get married, move into a new house (and not a Home of Tomorrow, just an ordinary new house), and have a housewarming party. Instead of fixing all the food by pushing a few magic buttons in the Kitchen of Tomorrow, Nuveena sends her beau into the Kitchen of Today to do all the cooking while she gets on the phone and invites all th…
It Happens Every Noon (film #772 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This mid-60s film encourages all schools to sign up for the Federal School Lunch Program. Different kinds of lunch programs are shown, from fancy hot lunches down to sandwiches in snacks, in different kinds of schools. Most striking is the clueless racism (while the white schoolkids get a hot lunch in a nice cafeteria, the black kids get sack lunches) and sexism (in the rural schools, the girls have to make the lunch so the teacher can “work with the younger children”, boys no doubt) and the portrayal of southern rural one-room schoolhouses, one where the teacher has to pick up the food from the local general store, which looks like it’s out of the mid-19th century, and where the kids have to wash up at the pump before eating. To see this in a mid-60s film is surprising, but it only shows how there are some parts of this country that live very different lives from the mainstream. The film has great histo…