Consumers Want to Know (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #372 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This early 60s film gives a detailed and complete profile of Consumers Union, the non-profit organization that publishes Consumer Reports. The profile is very straightforward, reflecting the dedication to facts of the organization, an organization that does very good work. Unfortunately, this means it gets rather dull after awhile, because it goes into such detail. Still, the scenes of the various laboratory tests are pretty interesting––I want the cigarette smoking machine for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices (Smoking Section).

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. CU Rating: Recommended with Reservations. Overall Rating: ***.

Les Boites a Go Go (film #3 in the Film section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Juke Box Movies section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Music section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Music Video section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Scopitones section of Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]

French Scopitone in which a young woman in an op-art minidress dances the twist at a discotheque while singing the title song. Psychedelic camera tricks occasionally intervene. This is very representative of the mid-60s in style, making it a fun nostalgia piece.

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

Carnivorous Plants (film #12 on AV Geeks. Also, film #2 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 6: Religion DVD (Fantoma, 2003)). [Category: Educational]

A creepy guy gleefully tells us all about how various carnivorous plants trap and digest innocent insects. Then he tries to sneak in stuff about how only God could have made such things, not any sort of evolutionary process. It comes off as saying only God could be that sadistic. I think God would be insulted by such a notion.

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

Bucking Broncho (film #36 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A cowboy rides a bucking bronk until he gets bucked off. And when I say “cowboy,” I mean the real deal, folks––this was made in 1894. The guy on the fence better watch out with that pistol, though. An 1894 Edison film.

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

Atlas Trailer (extra on Goliath and the Dragon DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Commercial]

Mildly fun trailer for what looks to be a fairly campy sword-and-sandal flick, including lots of the standard sword-and-sandal elements, such as an evil ruler, a muscleman hero, the muscleman hero battling multiple enemies, and exotic dancing. Fun if you like this sort of thing.

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

Dingbat Land (film #412 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This sign-language interpreted version of a Terrytoon is rather puzzling, as the vast majority of the gags are visual, so the need for interpretation is questionable. In fact, the interpreter is reduced at points to providing editorial commentary, such as, “Oh! That dingbat is so bad!” Also, there are no real dingbats in it; just a lame Tweety Bird ripoff. Dingbats are like this: **** (dingbats are replaced by asterisks).

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

The Cook in Trouble (film #10 on More Melies (A-1 Video). Also, film #2 on The Movies Begin, Volume Four: The Magic of Melies (Kino Video, 1994). Also, film #11 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 6: Rare Films (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Trouble is right. A cook fails to help out a beggar, who turns out to be a magician in disguise. He retaliates by cursing the kitchen, infesting it with scads of imps who proceed to wreak havoc. And you thought those few mice in your kitchen were causing you problems! Lively fun, as usual for Melies. A 1904 Melies film. The version on The Movies Begin is the best of the bunch.

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

Know for Sure (film #35 on AV Geeks. Also, film #4 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 1: Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2001)). [Category: Public Service]

This 40s anti-syphilis film features several case studies of various people visiting a public health clinic to be tested for syphilis. The first case, featuring an outrageously-stereotyped Italian immigrant couple whose baby is born dead because of the disease, is fairly maudlin. Other than that, the film is surprisingly straightforward and unsensationalistic in its message. It’s an interesting example of how the subject was dealt with back in the 40s, though it does contain way too many close-ups of blood being drawn for my comfort level.

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

Adventures on a Talk Show (film #22 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

I guess one of the advantages of being a Lego guy is you can get away with really bad jokes. This brickfilm is full of ‘em, but because it’s a brickfilm, they come off as pretty funny, rather than the real groaners that they are. And the film somehow gets away with substituting arm-waving for the fact that you can’t make Lego guys’ mouths move (‘cause their just painted on). In fact, this Lego version of a talk show gets away with a whole bunch of stuff, and for that, I kind of admire it. It even includes a fake commercial, which ends with the worst joke of all, yet it made me laugh out loud.

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

Chairman Rodino (film #2 in the Watergate section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]

Brief clip of Chairman Rodino advising the House of Representatives on the procedure and implications of a vote on impeachment of Richard Nixon. This is pretty important historically, though brief.

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

Allies Fight Fierce Nazi Counter-Blow (film #52 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This WWII newsreel has some interesting captured German footage of places of amusement being closed down and Nazi women being drafted for war work. Following that is footage of Allied troops battling a German counteroffensive. Also included are stories about a rocket-firing plane, an appeal for recruits for the merchant marine, and a cute segment where children of diplomats wish us a Merry Christmas. This is one of the more interesting and lively of the WWII newsreels, giving you a real feel for the war years.

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

Combat Bulletin No. 35 (film #2 on tape #6 of This Film Is Restricted (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

In "Japs Raid Saipan B-29 Base," we see lots of stuff on the base burning. In "GIs Get Whole Blood from Home," new methods of packaging, refrigeration and shipment allow supplies of whole blood to last a lot longer than before, saving many lives. In "Black Widow and Jato," we get to see footage, previously classified as secret, of an experiemental bomber called the Black Widow, and of a handy-dandy portable jet propulsion system that can be attached to ordinary prop planes to make them take off faster. In "Activities in Burma," supplies are shipped into Burma by practically every means available. In "Activities in China," we see American troops slowly advancing in China. And in “Activities in the European Theatre of Operations," we see more of the Allied advance in Germany. This is a very ordinary Combat Bulletin, though the Jatos are kind of cool.

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

Construction Crews (film #2 in the 1950s: Blast from the Past section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]

Silent color film footage of identical houses being built in the suburbs during the 50s. Nothing really surprising here, though this might be good footage for a documentary about the post-war housing boom.

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

Classic Entertainers (film #10 in the Exclusive Celebrity Footage section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Hollywood]

Silent concert footage from the 60s of Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bobby Darin. Considering that these were musical entertainers, and they’re shown performing, it’s really baffling that this footage is silent––you’re losing more than 50% of the experience if you can’t hear the performance. This might have some value for documentary filmmakers looking for visual footage, but to the average viewer, there’s something horribly missing.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *** (loses a star for being silent). Overall Rating: **.

Felix Finds Out (film #4 on Felix the Cat DVD (Delta Entertainment, 2004). [Category: Hollywood]

Felix finds a nickel and gives it to his friend Willie, who buys a hot dog with it. Unfortunately, the hot dog turns out to be one of those singing and dancing ones from the snack bar promo and promptly runs away. Fortunately, Felix is able to use his feline wiles to trick the hot dog, as well as all his buddies at the stand. Unfortunately, this makes Willie late for school, and as a result he is saddled with the homework question, “What makes the moon shine?” Felix resolves to find the answer for him, but after the Man in the Moon proves unhelpful, he discovers a moonshine stand, gets drunk, and starts hallucinating. Hey, I just review ‘em, I don’t promise they make sense.

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

Brook Trout Fishing (film #18 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A guy fishes for trout in a stream. This is so utterly fascinating that another guy comes out of the background to watch him. This gripping plot would later be stolen by many directors of home movies. A 1902 Biograph film.

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

At Midnight, I’ll Take Your Soul Trailer (film #15 in the Trailers section of Movieflix). [Category: Commercial]

Trailer for a Brazilian horror flick from 1964. For 1964, this looks pretty darn scary and disturbing, meaning the trailer did its job well.

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

Dallas School Integration (film #4 in the Brown v. Board of Education section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Silent news footage of Dallas schools being racially integrated during the early 60s. It happens peacefully, but there is anxiety just under the surface in the police presence and in the faces of some of the children and parents. An important historical document of the civil rights movement.

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

Kitchen Safety: Fat Pans (film #55 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]

Short British PSA from the 70s warning of the dangers of overfilling pans with oil for deep-fat frying (i.e. it starts a fire). This makes its point very well in its short duration.

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

About the Door (film #22 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This is yet another version of the basic concept in About a Door––that is, a door with a sign “Do Not Open This Door,” and how the curious Lego guys deal with it. This one basically has one joke, which will make you jump a little bit, but really isn’t all that surprising if you think about it. Not bad, but could be more creative with the idea.

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

Cataclysm: Volcano, Tidal Waves Devastate Pacific Area (film #120 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]

In this 1960 newsreel, we see the devastation of an earthquake in Chile and of related tidal waves that hit many Pacific islands, including Hawaii. The narrator asserts that the year was one of the worst ever for natural disasters. Hey! Wait a minute! I was born in 1960!…Never mind. Also included is a story on the launching of a spy satellite.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: * (more if you were born in 1960). Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.

Care of the Skin (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #273 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

No Skin Fairy in this one, I’m afraid. Just three kids––Fred, Billy, and Virginia––who are way more interested in washing than any real kid. We get to see such stirring things as Virginia with soap all over her face, Billy licking himself like a cat and saying “Why?” all the time, some disgusting images of skin diseases, and lots of close-ups of Fred taking his bath. Not a particularly pleasant viewing experience, I can tell you. This one needs an Evil Sprite Character to liven it up.

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

Allies Drive Across Rhine to Victory (film #51 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

WWII newsreel clip documenting the Allied takeover of Cologne, Germany. This has some very gritty and exciting footage of street fighting. Also included are stories about the American delegation to the UN, and a clothing drive headed by Henry Kaiser. Kaiser is no speaker, I can tell you, and that makes that segment fairly campy. This is one of the more interesting and well-preserved WWII-era newsreels.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *** (mostly for the clothing drive segment). Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Company Response (film #1386 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This 30s training film for firefighters goes over the basic things the head of a company needs to go over before going to a fire, in order to ensure that things go smoothly and efficiently. It gives a fascinating look at the firefighting practices of its time. And there is something appealingly dorky about the narrator that I can’t quite put my finger on, giving the film some camp value. If you’re a fan of firefighters or firefighting equipment, this is your film. Even if you’re not, the narrator makes it fun.

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

Christmas Brings Joy to Everyone (film #124 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Hollywood]

Holiday newsreel from 1945 showing Christmas tree harvesting, kids admiring toys, and Santa talking to kids. This should bring back memories for early baby boomers. Also included in the newsreels are stories about General Eisenhower taking over as army chief of staff, a Japanese-American family accepting a medal for a fallen war hero, Archbishop Spellman kicking off a canned-food drive for Europe’s starving children, and newly-designed fighter planes being displayed and raced by the air force. A real blast from the past for the post-war period.

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

Broadway & Union Square, New York (film #6 on The Life of a City). [Category: Early Film & TV]

At Broadway and Union Square, we see pedestrians and a couple of streetcars. This has some historical value, but not much else. A 1903 Biograph film.

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

The Astounding She-Monster Trailer (extra on Death Ray Mirror of Dr. Mabuse DVD (Sinister Cienma)). [Category: Commercial]

Campy trailer for one of the worst films of all time, The Astounding She-Monster. The trailer is a little bit more competent than the actual film, which is not saying much. Bad movie fans should enjoy this.

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

Chicago Area Videomakers Coalition (film #12 on Media Burn Archive). [Category: Sleaze and Outsider]

This is a clip from sample tape made during the 70s showing the work of a group of Chicago-area independent filmmakers. One segment shows an interview with some panhandlers in San Francisco, and the second segment is from a film made by two 8-year-old African-American girls about the older sister of one of them. Both look like fascinating outsider films––I wish the whole films were available.

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

Key Trains on Bay Bridge (film #41 on Shaping San Francisco). [Category: Public Service]

Clip from a documentary about the San Francisco commuter trains of the Key System, showing a number of different trains from different time periods, and lamenting the loss of this cheap, efficient form of mass transit. The scene of the train going through its own special portion of the Bay Bridge is pretty cool. This is historically valuable footage––too bad they didn’t post the complete documentary.

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

About Rapunzel (film #21 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This short brickfilm shows us why you should never send a conformist to do the job of a fairytale hero, as well as making reference to a number of other brickfilms. For a very short film with very little action or movement, this is pretty clever.

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

Conquest of the Pole ["A la Conquete du Pole"] (film #1 on Ballerinas in Hell (Unknown Video). Also, film #6 on Marvelous Melies (A-1 Video). Also, film #16 on Pioneers of the French Cinema (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A bunch of silly people take a weird flying contraption to the North Pole, which looks curiously like the surface of the moon in A Trip to the Moon. There they encounter a huge, grinning, bug-eyed Jack Frost head (store this image away for a later nightmare, kids!). After they torment it with snowballs (really!), it commences to eat them one by one. Fortunately, a quick-thinking explorer shoots a cannon at it, which causes it to spit up his comrades. All ends happily and boastfully at the Explorer's Club. A quite fun Melies romp with lots of unforgetable images. The version on Pioneers of the French Cinema is more complete than the one on Ballerinas in Hell. A 1912 Melies film.

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 ...