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Showing posts from September 4, 2005
Blood Moon (film #3 on Open Source Movies). [Category: News]Silent footage of the October 27, 2004 lunar eclipse, taken from San Francisco. After footage of the moon just looking dark, some camera trickery makes it look kind of blood-red and psychedelic. I guess you had to be there. If not, I’m glad I missed it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Allies Close on Rome (film #50 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel story about the Allied drive towards Rome after the capture of Monte Casino during the late days of World War II. This is pretty standard, with some historical interest in the showing of a couple of German secret weapons. Mostly this is just scenes of devastation in the aftermath of battle, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
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Company Profile (film #364 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film is a straightforward profile of the Hoover Company, of vacuum cleaner fame. Fun moments include early film footage of the company’s earliest vacuum cleaners, factory-tour footage from plants in England, and some bizarre-looking quality-control devices. And it contains a bit of essential trivia for rock fans––the Paravale Plant looks to be the Hoover Factory that Elvis Costello sings about. And it has a real cool Jam Handy focus leader. The film as a whole is pretty standard, but it has lots of great little extras. Too bad it’s incomplete.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***** (gets an extra star for the Hoover Factory). Overall Rating: ****.
Cavalcade of Archery (film #8 on Disc 2 of The Adventures of Robin Hood DVD (Warner Bros., 2003)). [Category: Hollywood]This theatrical short from the 40s feature archer Harold Hill doing a bunch of trick shots, including shooting an arrow into the neck of a gourd, shooting into a neck of a bottle, and shooting and apple and a prune off the head of a William Tell impersonator. This is all done in beautiful Technicolor, with a couple of pretty assistants who get awfully close to the targets at times. This is mildly amusing, though it does have great title cards.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Combat Bulletin No. 34 (film #1 on tape #6 of This Film Is Restricted Boxed Set (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]In "Activities in European Theatre of Operations," Allied forces advance on Germany, building bridges and slogging through mud along the way. In "Port of Antwerp," supplies are unloaded from ships at the aforementioned port. In "Fighter Kills," we see aerial footage of bombing and strafing. In "Malaria Control on Corsica," GIs battle mosquitos in various ways, including spraying oil on standing water, covering their skin with a greasy concoction, and covering their beds with mosquito netting. This is a really interesting segment which shows humorous posters featuring saucy cartoon pin-up girls demonstrating proper malaria-control procedures (I wish I had these in my collection). In "B-29 Crash in China,” we see a wrecked B-29. "Jap Phosphorous Bombs" gives us a close-up view of t…
The Adventures of Superman (film #2 in the Who Killed TV’s Superman? section of TVParty). [Category: Early Film & TV]Incredibly sexist and patronizing scene from “The Adventures of Superman,” featuring Lois Lane subbing for the advice columnist and asking Superman for help. Everybody treats her like a bratty child, including Superman himself. It ends with a couple of her co-workers speculating on why a pretty girl like her isn’t married. At least TV workplaces would eventually get somewhat better than this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Alone Against Rome Trailer (extra on Hercules Against the Moon Men/The Witch’s Curse DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Commercial]Standard, rather turgid trailer for what looks to be a standard, fairly turgid sword-and-sandal movie. No real surprises here.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Felix Doubles for Darwin (film #2 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]This one has a plot that’s farfetched even for a Felix cartoon. Felix agrees to go to Africa to find out if man evolved from monkeys, so he can split the reward money with a guy who tells him about a contest that pays money to whoever can find proof of evolution. So Felix sends himself by transatlantic cable to Africa (in a very clever sequence), where he discovers a “family tree” full of monkeys. The monkeys are offended by the idea that humans are their relatives and so they chase Felix back across the cable. This is an incredibly silly Felix, as you may deduce from this plot description, and that makes it fun, of course.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Check and Double Check (film #2 on Side B of Disc #2 of Classic Musicals DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Far from being an all-black cast film, this screen adaptation of the radio show “Amos ‘n’ Andy” could almost be called an all-white cast film, since the characters of Amos and Andy are played by the white men who did their voices on the radio. They’re in blackface and it’s just as racist as it sounds, with all white characters rich and well-mannered, while all African-Americans are dull-witted and stupid in supposedly comic ways. Furthermore, the film has a very dull plot and a pace so plodding that during the scene in the haunted house, you start to wish for some bug-eyed stereotyped hi-jinx from the main characters just to liven things up a bit (but your wish won’t be granted). I doubt even fans of the radio show liked this. Although the show was somewhat better, the film really shows how appallingly racist its concept was, and it’…
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Carl Laemmle Arrives Home (film #116 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Public Service]Self-congratulatory newsreels from the 30s featuring Universal Studios chief Carl Laemmle, home from a European tour, claiming that all the bigwigs in Europe are hep to the NRA. I didn’t know Hitler was so keen on it, but I guess you learn something new every day.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
About a Wall (film #20 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]A guy wakes up to find a pathetic voice telling him he’s stuck inside the wall of the guy’s bedroom. The moral ends up telling all would-be Bart Simpsons that pranks have consequences. Mildly amusing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Buster Crabbe at the Xth Olympiad (extra on Disc #1 of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe DVD (VCI Home Video)). [Category: News]Newsreel footage of Buster Crabbe winning the men’s 100-meter freestyle swimming event, including a brief interview at the end, where he talks about how happy he was to have won. This provides some historical background to the actor who played Flash Gordon, as well as letting us see what a hunk he was in his Olympic days.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Allied Vise Tightens on Rhineland (film #49 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel from late World War II with stories documenting the Allied push towards Germany, aircraft carrier attacks on Manila, a general addressing a bunch of manufacturing bigwigs and giving an appeal for more Production for Victory, the need for more nurses’ aides to take over medical jobs on the homefront, and the opening of college basketball season. This is a historically-interesting slice of life from the late war years. Too bad it wasn’t better preserved.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Care of the Hair and Nails (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #272 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]The Hair-and-Nails Fairy appears and tells us how she “helps” children by getting them to be compulsive about hair and nail care through the magic of film reversal. I thought initially we were getting into Evil territory, but she’s really only an Evil-Wanna-Be. She even admits that she often “helps” her victims by remaining invisible, revealing a severe lack of the shamelessness that is so fundamental to these characters. You wouldn’t catch Mr. B Natural or Soapy operating under a cloak of invisibility! And her only magical powers seem to be having a magic wand that makes guitar feedback sounds (which I’ll admit is a tiny bit evil) and the ability to reverse the film to make children do her bidding. But she lacks the fundamental mind-control powers of a Coily or a Chalky. She does show potential in her ability to get the first kid to wash his hands …
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Community Growth: Crisis and Challenge (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #362 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film, made by the National Association of Home Builders, decries suburban sprawl, proposing that it be replaced by planned suburban sprawl. Actually, that’s being a little bit mean, as the film is quite even-handed and balanced in making its points, even to the point of saying that much more research needs to be done before we can really say what the definite solutions will be. Their advice must have been taken to heart, as many of their proposed ideas, such as cluster-built housing developments (you know, the kind where the streets are all curvy and there are lots of circles and you can’t find your way back into the main traffic grid to save your life), cul-de-sacs, and townhouses were adopted all over the place. There’s lots of historical interest in this film, as it gives you a good idea of the city planning problems created b…
Come Along Do! (film #15 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A colorful elderly couple enjoy their lunch sitting on a bench, then leave. I'm not sure what the point of this one was supposed to be. The title is great, though. An 1898 R. W. Paul film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: **. Overall Rating: **.
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Casper the Friendly Ghost in There’s Good Boos Tonight (film #12 on Film Chest Vintage Cartoons). [Category: Hollywood]Casper cartoons are usually sickly sweet, but this one is unexpectedly dark and tragic. Casper makes friends with a little fox and they have lots of fun times together until the fox hunters show up. Casper manages to scare them away, but not in time to save the fox, who dies of a gunshot wound. Casper grieves pitifully until he realizes that, being a ghost, his friends don’t necessarily have to be alive, which gives you an idea of how the cartoon ends. I suppose this is supposed to be a happy ending, but it makes death look way too attractive. I wouldn’t show this to any kids who have a problem with depression, that’s for sure. Even kids who are reasonably happy would probably find this toon upsetting enough to make them cry. Have fun, kids!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **** (though in a way that makes you cry rather than laugh). Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***…
Combat Bulletin No. 33 (film #3 on tape #5 of This Film Is Restricted Boxed Set (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Yankee ingenuity is a running theme in this Combat Bulletin. In "School for Jungle Life," GIs learn how to survive on a tropical island, from finding food to building shelter, and it's nothing like "Gilligan's Island." In "Activities in the European Theatre of Operations", the Allies advance through western Germany, eventually taking Strausbourg. In "Island Icebox," resourceful GIs make a refrigerator out of parts scavenged from crashed airplanes. In "Acitvities in the Phillipines," we see gritty footage of jungle fighting, including an American reporter getting fatally shot. In "Strikes in Ormac and Manilla Bay," we see aerial footage of naval battles near the Phillipines. I like how ingenious the GIs are shown to be in this Combat Bulletin.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value…
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Breaking of the Crowd at Military Review at Longchamps (film #35 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]OK, folks, show’s over! Time to go home now. A turn-of-the-century crowd slowly wanders through a sea of chairs and disperses, though one lady gets up on top of one of the chairs to look around. And are those Arabs I see, or just guys with their handkerchiefs under their hats? This does have a bit of historical value as a slice of turn-of-the-century life, though why Edison wanted to film the crowd after the show was over is anyone’s guess. A 1900 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
ABC-TV Sunday Morning Promo (film #16 on ToonTracker Cartoon Showcase). [Category: Commercial]This is pretty similar to the Saturday morning promo, except it features the Sunday morning shows “Beany and Cecil” and that stalwart of Sunday mornings, “Bullwinkle”. If you were a kid during the 60s, this will probably bring back some Sunday morning memories, that is, if you ever got out of going to church.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Caged Virgins Trailer (extra on Dracula the Dirty Old Man/Guess What Happened to Count Dracula DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Trailer for a sexploitation horror movie that looks like it might be a little bit better than most in its genre. Granted, there’s lots of sleazy elements, but it also feels genuinely creepy in the way that a successful horror film should. This either means the film is better than you’d expect, or they got somebody really talented to make the trailer.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
How to Brake (film #50 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]Straightforward British PSA warning drivers against sudden braking. They could have had a lot more fun with this, I think.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Spiderman: Arms of Love (film #230 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #322 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #105 in the Sci-Fi section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]If you’re expecting the plot of Spiderman II here, well, the film takes a few, ah, liberties. It does have some great acting, though (never thought I’d say that about a brickfilm) and the fight scene is pretty impressive. It even has a happy, though twist, ending! Not bad for a film constructed out of Legos.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
Cameras Gone Wild (film #5 on News Bloopers DVD (Time-Life Video, 1999)). [Category: News]This section of News Bloopers features flubs caused by the people running the cameras. This would work better without the silly sound effects and laugh track, though some of the saves made by the anchor people are pretty good. Mildly amusing, though not as funny as they think.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Allied Victory Parade (film #48 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel clip from the post-war period showing a parade in London celebrating the Allied victory in Europe, followed by the story of the recovery of stolen German crown jewels that were taken by an American soldier. This has mild historical interest as a slice of life from the days immediately following World War II.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Command Performance (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #357 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 1942 film, made by RCA Victor, shows us how 78 rpm records were made. It’s actually a pretty fascinating process, involving cutting an original wax disc, electroplating it into a metal master disc, making a stronger mother disc from the master, and making stamping discs from those. Mixing the shellac, stamping the records, and packing and shipping is also covered. This is one of the more interesting factory tour films out there, and since it covers an outdated technology, it has quite a bit of historical value as well.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Felix All Puzzled (film #5 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]Felix goes all the way to Russia to help his master solve a crossword puzzle. There he discovers the Bolshevik’s plan for revolution, which ultimately helps him solve the puzzle and get his milk. This Felix toon doesn’t have him pulling things out of thin air, but it’s weird enough conceptually.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Brideless Groom (film #46 on Feature Films). [Category: Hollywood]Shemp Howard stands to inherit $500,00 if he can get married in a few hours, according to the terms of one of those wills that only appears in the movies. Comic hi-jinx ensue involving him and Moe getting tangled up in a telephone cord, getting poked in the eye by a shaving brush, getting tangled up in piano strings, getting beaten up by a pretty neighbor he proposes to, and a huge battle of prospective brides. He finally ends up marrying the terrible singer from the beginning of the film, but it looks like $500,000 will be small consolation for him. This short has some funny moments, such as Moe and Larry getting caught in a clinch, and the final battle of brides is pretty bizarre, but mostly this is standard Stooges fare.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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The Boys Think They Have One on Foxy Grandpa, but He Fools Them (film #3 in the Comedy Sketches section of American Variety Stage. Also, in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]Psst! Hey, let’s give a banjo to Grandpa! Won’t that be a hoot? Oh no! Turns out he really can play! He’s making us dance!! Akk!! Oh no! Now he’s dancing himself!!! The horror! The horror! A 1902 Biograph film. P.S. That’ll teach ‘em to mess with Foxy Grandpa!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
ABC-TV Saturday Morning Promo (film #17 on ToonTracker Cartoon Showcase). [Category: Commercial]Primitively-animated early-60s promo for ABC’s Saturday morning cartoons, most of which seemed to consist of collections of old theatrical cartoons. You can see how much more sophisticated the animation was in the theatrical cartoons than the animation of the promo itself in the clips that they show. Still, the animation is in a cute style, making this mildly interesting to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: SS. Weirdness: ¬¬. Historical Interest: ““““. Overall Rating: $$$.
Capitalism (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #271 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]In this Coronet film, a group of high school students do a radio panel discussion show on the topic “What Is Capitalism?” But first they do a lot of arguing amongst themselves about what the most important elements in capitalism are––an argument that could only take place in a Coronet film. Campiest is the example of private property given in the form of the grocer from whom they buy supplies for the class weenie roast. “We needed weenies. Mr. Brown had weenies, etc.” This is more Dick-and-Jane than Round and Round. Of course, the idea that American capitalism is the best economic system in the world is not questioned for a second, nor are any drawbacks to capitalism mentioned, though many benefits are. This is pretty much what you’d expect from a Coronet film tackling these issues, which means it’s pretty campy.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Hist…