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Showing posts from 2006
Anatine (available on Brickfilms. Also available on You Tube). Uhh, I won’t describe the plot of this very short brickfilm because it would give it all away. Suffice to say that it defines its title through the use of plasticene, and this has consequences.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
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First Pictures: Soviets Hail Space Hero (downloaded from Universal Newsreels).Newsreel showing Russian TV news footage of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, being officially honored in Moscow in front of cheering crowds. This is interesting because it shows Russian TV news footage, which was hard to see outside of the Soviet Union at the time. Also included is a story of President Eisenhower returning to his farm in Pennsylvania. This is pretty ordinary, but it has historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Behind These Scenes (downloaded from Google Video).This Department of the Interior film from 1950 highlights the importance of raw material and energy production in fighting the Cold War. Lots of industrial footage is shown of such things as iron foundries, coal mines, and hydroelectric dams, while the narrator repeatedly emphasizes how increasing production of these things is vital to our national defense. The impact on the environment of all this increasing production is not mentioned, but you wouldn’t really expect it would be, apart from the fact that the Department of the Interior is also supposed to be concerned with conservation, a theme that appears in many early DOI films, but not at all here. No surprises, really, but this has some historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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A Fortune in Two Old Trunks (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive).This film tells you way more than you want to know about prunes. About half of it tells the story of Louis Pellier, a Frenchman who brought the first cuttings of French prune trees to California and started the prune industry there. This is told very dramatically with actors, but with no dialogue, just narration and dramatic music, which, of course, provides ample opportunity for the viewer to supply his or her own dialogue in the form of msting. The other half of the film is the standard growing, harvesting, and packaging of produce film, featuring Sunsweet employees wearing uniforms that make them look like nurses. Near the end, we are treated to a number of tasty dishes that can be made with prunes––NOT! These are truly disgusting-looking, folks. All in all, this is your typical grower’s film, though on a subject that automatically increases its camp valu…
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Don’t Talk to Strangers (film #453 on Prelinger Archive).A little girl named Earline encounters a man on her way home from school who tries to lure her into his car. Obviously, she’s watched plenty of Sid Davis films at school, because she immediately turns him down and writes down the license number of the car. Then she takes this information home to her mother, who, amazingly, blows it off. So the next day, the man manages to successfully pick up a classmate of hers who must have been home sick during the showing of The Dangerous Stranger. When her mother calls the school to inform them that her daughter didn’t make it home, the principal conducts a search of the playground, asking every kid there whether or not they saw the missing girl. None of them did, except for one plucky little boy who saw the girl get into the man’s car. At this point, the police are called, and they go through an excruciatingly long process of calling in detectives (including a female detective with cat’s e…
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Ce Garcon (downloaded from Bedazzled). In this French Scopitone, a black pop group sings a catchy song that has a sort of a French Motown feel. Except they dance like white people, so go figure. It’s just this sort of weirdness I like to see in these Scopitones, though. And the song is a real toe-tapper.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Amos Sensitively Interprets the Literal Meaning of the Lord’s Prayer (available in the Xma TV: How Sitcoms Spent the Holidays in the 1960s and 1970s section of TVParty). This excerpt from a Christmas episode of “The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show” features Amos explaining the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer to his daughter, line by line. This interpretation of the prayer is neither dogmatic nor maudlin, but expresses genuine human values, ones that most of us would find meaningful even if we’re not particularly religious. It’s great that this was preserved, for it’s one of the most touching religious messages I’ve seen in a TV program.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
ABC’s Thursday Night Lineup in 1965 (available on the Classic TV Blog of TVParty). This isn’t a Thursday night lineup! It’s a Saturday night lineup! Nevertheless, it does feature old fogey variety shows as promised: “The King Family,” “The Lawrence Welk Show,” and “The Hollywood Palace.” All the shows your parents wanted to watch instead of the shows you wanted to watch, except maybe “The Hollywood Palace,” which occasionally had some cool guests, but was on past your bedtime. No wonder we children of the 60s need sites like Bedazzled!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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A Beatles Medley (downloaded from Bedazzled). This montage of ordinary British folk singing Beatles tunes was put together for a Paul McCartney TV special. It’s utterly charming, as the people in it look like they’re really having fun. Although they obviously sang the songs a capella during the filming, a backing orchestra lamely tries to play along with them, and this just adds to the humor. A fun little blip of Beatles ephemera.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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How to Catch a Cold (available on A/V Geeks. Also available for download from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]This Disney film, sponsored by Kleenex, features the Common Man and his little sprite conscience, Common Sense. Common Sense confronts the sick Common Man with all the forms of poor self-care he engaged in that made him vulnerable to catching a cold and all the ways he has spread the cold to others. He finally gets the dolt to stay home from work when he threatens him with worse diseases he could come down with while his immune system is busy battling the cold. The film has the fun elements of a sprite character and Disney animation, though I found myself wishing it was a bit livelier and wackier. Perhaps the filmmakers were battling a cold when they made this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Feeding the Swans (film #13 on Pioneers of the French Cinema (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). Lookit me, I'm feeding the swans! Another early home movie. A Lumiere film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: *.
Disorder in the Court (film #1 on Side B of Disc #4 of Famliy Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004). Also, availble for download on Feature Films. Also available on You Tube). This is one of the funnier of the Three Stooges shorts. Larry, Moe and Curly are brought in to testify in the defense of a nightclub dancer accused of murdering her boyfriend. A courtroom is definitely not the place for the Stooges, and the resulting lawlessness is quite funny, at times getting close to the brilliance of the Marx Brothers. Highlights include Moe and Larry playing tic tac toe on the back of the defense attorney’s jacket, Moe swallowing a harmonica and being turned into a calliope by Larry, Curly attempting to swear in and not being able to do two things simultaneously, and Curly struggling with a gun (something that should never be given to one of the Stooges). The Stooges’ humor usually falls flat with me, but I found myself laughing out loud at this one.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****.…
The Andy Griffith Show (available in the Xmas TV: How Sitcoms Spent the Holidays in the 1960s and 1970s section of TVParty). This clip from “The Andy Griffith Show” shows how Christmas was celebrated at the Mayberry courthouse in 1960. It features Andy and Elinor Donahue singing a charming duet of “Away in a Manger,” the obligatory conversion of the local Scrooge, and Barney playing a scary Santa. This is as charming as you’d expect and a fun clip to watch during the holiday season.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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The First Man to Walk on the Lunar Surface (downloaded from the Apollo 11 section of WPA Film Library). British newsreel footage of the TV footage of the landing of the Apollo 11 lunar module and Neil Armstrong’s first moonwalk. It’s bizarre seeing this as a newsreel, because I remember watching it as it happened on TV. Again, this showed why newsreels died. Still, this is important footage of a historic moment.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Battle of Iwo Jima (downloaded from the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library). A veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima narrates newsreel footage of the battle. This is pretty much what you’d expect, though it does have some striking images of the battle, some of them grisly, and it ends with the flag-raising we all have etched into our brains.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Forestry and Forest Industries (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive). Another film in the “Your Life’s Work” series, this one goes over careers in forestry, covering both conservation work and the lumber industry. I’m sure I’ve seen some of this footage before, perhaps in Felling Forest Giants or some of the Department of the Interior films I’ve seen recently. At any rate, this is a pretty ordinary film, though it does have some striking images of forests and lumbering at a few points.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
I Don't Want to Change the Subject (film #10 on WWII V for Victory War Bonds & Rallies Show (Something Weird, 1996)). Hey folks! Just 'cause the war's over doesn't mean you can shirk your duty to buy War Bonds! And while you're waiting to buy, sing along with this cute little ditty. A prime piece of post-WWII ephemera.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Cara-Lin (downloaded from Bedazzled). Les 5 Gentlemen play the song “Cara-Lin”, while fans dance at what must have been one of the first raves in this French Scopitone from the 60s. These guys really rock, so much so that I found myself going back to the Bedazzled site to find out who exactly they were. There’s a definite Beatles influence here, but it’s just an influence, not a rip-off––they definitely have their own sound. This song could have been a hit in the US if the lyrics hadn’t been in French.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Insultin' the Sultan (film #17 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 1 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). This cartoon is not exactly, shall we say, culturally enlightened. Willie Whopper goes to Arabia, where his girlfriend is accidentally sold into a sultan's harem, requiring him to fight the sultan and rescue her. All of the darker-skinned Arabs are portrayed as thick-lipped Sambos and the usual repetoire of racist gags are made about them. The final fate of the sultan, though, is hilariously weird and made me laugh out loud (I won't give it away). One of the weirder Willie Whoppers.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Amos and Andy (available in the What Happened to What’s Happening section of TVParty). Clip from “Amos ‘n’ Andy” that shows Andy ducking out of his wedding to Madame Queen after he finds out she signed a singing contract with someone other than him. This gives you an idea of the typical level of humor on the show, which was basically typical sitcom fare.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Armour Franks Intermission Trailer (available on Vintage Ads. Also available on You Tube). Snack bar promo from the 50s featuring a bouncy, catchy jingle for Armour Franks that asserts, among other things, that they are “fun to eat when dating.” I’m sure the 14-year-old boy in all of us is having fun with the implications of that line. This is just the kind of silly fun I love to see in these drive-in snack bar promos.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Abby Trailer (extra on Abby DVD (Substance)). I guess it was inevitable during the 70s that they would make a black version of The Exorcist. This is the trailer for it, and as trailers go, it’s pretty impressive, since it makes the film look pretty good, when all sources have told me it’s actually very bad. The scene with the black exorcist actually reminds me a little bit of religious scenes in many of the old all-black cast films. And the trailer moves, and doesn’t waste its time. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t always believe what you see in a trailer.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Heart of the Confederacy (downloaded from Google Video). This Department of the Interior film from the 30s can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a conventional CCC-in-the-state-parks film or a silly newsreel featurette. It has the usual stuff about two different state parks in the Montgomery, Alabama area, and the CCC working on improvements in them, but it keeps getting sidetracked by things like a dog who was trained by its owner to answer the telephone and ride a tricycle, or Southern belles in clean overalls posing with baby chicks, when you know that their aristocratic lil’ Southern hands usually never dirtied themselves with such things, as they had folks of another skin color to handle them. They’re called “farmerettes” here, and their only purpose seemed to be to look pretty in front of the camera. Silly-sounding music accompanies these lighter scenes, and somehow this all highlights, although in a clueless fashion, the racism of that time and place, since the silly scenes, a…
Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: Busy Christmas (film #2 on Classic TV Christmas DVD (Allegro, 2006)). In this 1956 Christmas episode of the bland sitcom, Ozzie agrees to go caroling with a group of friends, and before you know it, he’s been roped into playing Scrooge in the men’s club’s Christmas play and playing Santa at the local orphanage’s Christmas party, as well as having the usual responsibilities of putting up Christmas lights and buying the Christmas tree. This was back in the good old days when preparations for Christmas began a couple of weeks before the holiday, rather than in mid-October like they do today. This episode is warm-hearted and mildly amusing, in true “Ozzie & Harriet” fashion, which seems particularly appropriate for a Christmas show. The copy on this DVD is actually a 1964 rebroadcast, complete with a brief intro and outro by the cast and commercials for your local gas company and Colgate toothpaste. I love it when they include these old commercials––…
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Don’t Get Angry (downloaded from Prelinger Archive). This mental hygiene film tells kids they should find some non-harmful way to let their anger out, so that it doesn’t get bottled up and result in destructive behavior. Unlike Don’t Be Afraid, it makes its case fairly plausibly, assuming you’re dealing with kids who basically have good self-control most of the time. The “pressure cooker” theory of anger management has since been discredited with people who have serious problems with destructive or abusive behavior, but back in the 50s, you could buy this. The child actors could be better, giving this some camp value, but they could be worse, too. The graphics are great, especially the boiling teakettle image superimposed over the kids’ faces. So are the scenes of using art to express anger––I bet Eddie grew up to be a political cartoonist.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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An Amazing Race (downloaded from the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library). Newsreel story about the 1938 horse racing win of Seabiscuit over War Admiral. This is pretty standard race footage, though the race was close. Still, this shows the superiority of televised sports, where you can watch it as it happens, over seeing a newsreel about it a couple of weeks later.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Feeding the Doves (film #8 on The Art of Cinema Begins (Video Yesteryear, 1997). Also available for download on Edison Film Archive. Also, film #8 on The Movies Begin, Volume One: The Great Train Robbery and Other Primary Works (Kino Video, 1994)). Chickens is more like it, though some doves do land in the chicken yard to share the feast. An 1896 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Ballad of the Green Berets (downloaded from Bedazzled). While the 60s are mainly remembered for its doves, there were also plenty of hawks out there, and they made this song, sung by Sgt. Barry Sadler, a hit. It’s the musical equivalent of the movie Starfighters, which means about all you can say for it is that it’s patriotic and makes the military look good. But boy, is it ever bland. This clip of Sadler singing his hit song on “The Hollywood Palace” deserves preserving, though, for showing us the other side of the 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Foreign Fire Depts. (downloaded from Prelinger Archive). This 30s firefighting film shows us firefighting practices in Japan and Paris. The Japanese footage is most interesting, as it shows us some unusual cultural things, such as the medal-giving ceremony, the decidedly Asian-looking asbestos suits, and effigies of Matoi, the fire god that were believed to protect homes from fire. The Paris footage is pretty standard, featuring demonstrations of various firefighting practices. As with most Stillman films, this has limited entertainment value, but lots of historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Candlemaker (film #12 on Santa’s Holiday Collection DVD (Allegro, 2006)). This religious cartoon tells the gentle tale of a candlemaker’s young son who is given the task of making one of the altar candles for the church’s Christmas Eve service, and who is ashamed when, after doing a slipshod job at the last minute, the candle doesn’t light. He redeems himself by remaking the candle, just as Jesus can remake a soul. I’m usually pretty hard on religious stuff, as I can’t stomach the usual self-righteousness and treacly sentimentality one finds in such things. But I found it impossible to fault this cartoon in any way. It is never preachy, nor does it ever get sappy. It’s religious message is a reassuring one of forgiveness, which I find refreshing, and it does it all with the lightest and gentlest of touches. This is genuinely recommended for Christmas viewing, though it might be a little slow-moving and subtle for children.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical …
The House in the Middle (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive. Also, film #4 on You Can Beat the A-Bomb (Video Yesteryear)). Did you know that good housekeeping can keep you safe from the atomic bomb? Houses are set up near bomb tests, some neat, some sloppy. The sloppy homes are described with barely concealed derision. "You have all seen homes like this," the narrator says, and we expect him to continue with something like, "...the homes of those weird, non-white people on the wrong side of the tracks." Needless to say, the neat homes survive the bomb lots better than the sloppy homes. "This proves that there is something you can do right now to protect yourself," the narrator continues. The fact that any people in the neat or sloppy homes would be toast is not acknowledged in any way. Appalling.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***…
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Crash Bang Boom (available on A/V Geeks. Also available for download from Google Video. Also available on You Tube).
Imagine, if you will, that ERPI made a film about percussion instruments. Only imagine it was made in color and in 1970. And it was a musical, with the dry ERPI narration sung instead of spoken. That gives you some idea about what this film is like. Actually, it’s pretty well done visually, with all kinds of percussion instruments filmed and edited in a somewhat wacky style. But then they go and ruin it with a choral group singing incredibly obvious lines like, “This is a bass drum.” They’re not even songs, really, just lame tone poems. Still, this film gets a somewhat higher rating than you might think based on sheer weirdness alone.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (available in the Xmas TV: How Sitcoms Spent the Holidays in the 1960s and 1970s section of TVParty).
Opening sequence from a Christmas episode of “Ozzie & Harriet.” Ozzie announces that the episode is going to be rebroadcast because it shows “the true meaning of Christmas.” Then we see the opening credits, complete with Aunt Jemima pancake mix plug and family introductions. Reruns as the True Meaning of Christmas? I guess there’s some truth to that, when you consider how many times you’ve seen your TV Christmas favorites over and over again.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Action Jackson TV Commercials (available on Bedazzled. Also available on Vintage Ads. Also available on You Tube).
Two 70s TV commercials for Action Jackson, an action figure that can go on all kinds of adventures, provided that you buy all the gear that he needs, which is all “sold separately.” How is this different from Barbie, fundamentally, guys? Very 70s, and will probably bring back lots of memories in those who played with action figures during that decade.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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The Association on the Andy Williams Show (downloaded from Bedazzled).
The Association sings their hit favored by swing choirs everywhere, “Cherish.” Then they give wacky introductions, which make them come off as far stranger than I had ever anticipated. Then Andy sings one of their lesser hits with them, and then they do another song by themselves. The only explanation for this sort of weird blandness is the 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Impatient Patient (film #4 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999). Also, film #23 on 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)).
Daffy Duck consults Dr. Jerkyll to cure his hiccups. Of course, Dr. Jerkyll soon turns into Chloe (i.e. Mr. Hyde) and comedy ensues. This is a pretty average Daffy Duck cartoon.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]This Department of the Interior film from the 30s documents the work of the CCC in making improvements to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a typical CCC film, though a bit more rambling than most. There are a few interesting moments, such as a scene in a CCC camp that housed men from New York City that features signs on the barracks identifying the buildings as New York landmarks such as the Astor Hotel or Madison Square Garden. But mostly, this is a fairly uninspired CCC film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Don't Be Afraid (film #6 on Campy Classroom Classics, Vol. 2 (Something Weird, 2000). Also, extra on Monsters Crash the Pajama Party Spook Show Spectacular DVD (Something Weird, 2001). Also available for download on Open Video Project. Also available for download on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]Billy is afraid of the dark until his mom gives him a long lecture about real fears vs. imaginary fears, giving lots of examples such as Mom being afraid of a grease fire (real), Kathy being afraid of dogs (imaginary), Billy being afraid to climb up a drainpipe to retrieve a ball (real) and Frank hiding in the basement out of fear of his parents' reaction to his bad report card (imaginary). This film takes place in a charming imaginary world where the worst dangers are grease fires and high places, dogs are friendly creatures that never bite and definitely don't have rabies, and a child with a bad report card hides from his parents because of a terrible misunderstandin…
Attack of the LEGOs: Revenge of the Order of Darkness (available on Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This lengthy, elaborate Brickfilm could use some help in the storytelling department. It has a basic action plot of Our Ninja Hero fighting the Order of Darkness, an evil army that threatens to take over the world. There are lots of jokes, parody elements, and references bandied about. Some of them work, many don’t. Still, there are enough fun moments and concepts to make this worth watching, such as the armaments dealer that sells entire armies and weapons of mass destruction through its drive-through window, and the parody movie posters in the Legoland movie theater lobby. And yes, there’s a credit cookie sequence at the end.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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First American in Space (downloaded from the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Documentary footage of the first American manned space flight of Alan Shepard. This has some historical value, but no real surprises.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Atomic Weapons Tests: Trinity Through Buster-Jangle (downloaded from Open Source Movies). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This early-50s government film documents the atomic testing program from the first explosion at Trinity site to the Buster-Jangle tests, which included the first underground tests. The tests and the rationale behind them are explained in great detail, which gets rather dry after a bit. But there are some interesting visuals, such as some striking animations and the expected explosions. At times, the audio cuts out, due to its being “sanitized” (their word, not mine) by the government to remove all still-classified information, though this is infrequent and not too intrusive. This film has lots of historical value in documenting the early atomic testing program, as well as being fairly interesting to watch.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Feeding the Baby ["Repas de Bebe"] (film #2 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994). Also, film #4 on Pioneers of the French Cinema (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A couple enjoys feeding their baby. Slightly more interesting if you consider that most likely everybody in it, including the baby, is dead now. Probably one of the first home movies. An 1895 Lumiere film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
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Foreign Fire Departments (downloaded from Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 30s firefighting film has lots of stuff about the Boston fire department, some of it I’m sure I’ve seen before, but I’ll press on in the assumption that at least some of this is new. Most of the first half features demonstrations of lots of different firefighting equipment, including a pipe that blows smoke out of cellars. The second half features footage of various fires, most of which I know I’ve seen in other Stillman films, especially the footage from Yokohama. Not much new to see here, actually, unless you’re a firefighting completist.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Daddy (downloaded from Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]Sultry Julie London sings to her sugar daddy about all the finer things in life he’d better give her, and, in case he doesn’t get the message, she has scantily-clad models show him all the swag she expects. This is much livelier and more convincing than the soundie version of this song, making it more fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Courtesy for Beginners (available on A/V Geeks. Also available for download from Google Video). [Category: Educational]This 60s manners film for gradeschoolers is pretty campy, but it’s also so utterly charming that you don’t want to be too hard on it. Most fun is a scene of kids practicing greetings by speaking into a tape recorder. They do the greetings in a stilted, yet realistic (for kids) fashion, then make faces when they hear their voices played back. Then they have other kids respond politely to the recorded greetings, and this is also a lot of fun. OK, it’s important to teach kids manners, and the basic civility taught in this film is reasonable, but it’s hard not to start giggling at the earnestness portrayed here, while still being swayed by its charm. This is a late-60s Coronet film, with all of the Coronet earnest charm, which wouldn’t be around for much longer, so there’s a wistfulness about this film, too.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Inte…
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Charles E. Hughes Speaking During Campaign, Duquense, PA, 1916 (downloaded from Theodore Roosevelt). [Category: Early Film & TV]Justice Hughes gives a campaign speech on behalf of TR to steelworkers in Pennsylvania. This kind of film was one kind that was vastly improved once sound was invented. Still, this has a bit of historical interest. A 1916 Universal film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Hot Spot (film #27 on The Complete Uncensored Private SNAFU DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This is the polar opposite to The Aleutians––Isles of Enchantment (Oh Brother!). The Devil himself narrates this tribute to the GIs slogging their way through hot-as-Hades Iran, delivering Lend-Lease supplies to Russia. Private SNAFU only makes cameo appearances in a few of the gags. A slightly weird moment is when we see the Devil taking salt tablets, but otherwise this is ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Abba Commercials (available on Vintage Ads. Also available on You Tube). [Category: Commercial]This is a set of 5 British commercials for National, a small appliance company, that were done by the Europop group Abba. In all of them, they sing a jingle for National to the tune of “Fernando.” Since I never liked that song, I think this is an improvement. And there’s something so natural about Abba doing commercials somehow.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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The Cool Ones Trailer (downloaded from Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Manic 60s movie trailer that tries so hard to be cool that it fails miserably. For that reason only, it should be preserved for all time. But if that wasn’t enough, it also features a clip from Mrs. Miller! A must.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: *****.
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Down Mobile Way (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]This Department of the Interior film from the 30s tells us all about the state parks being built by the CCC near Mobile, Alabama. Lots of scenes of the CCC at work are shown, some with interesting old-time technology, such as steam engines. The film is mildly racist in its portrayal of African Americans, such as referring to the black CCC members as “Negro boys.” Other than that, this film is pretty straightforward, though it does have historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Attack of the Flesh-Eating Subterranean Bog Monster from the Center of the Earth and Beyond the Moon: Apocalyptic Revenge (downloaded from Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This parody of 50s sci-fi monster movies is pretty amusing, in an amateurish sort of way. It features a dorky teen couple, a mad scientist named the Professor, and a monster that looks like it was created at Muppet Labs. Silliness ensues for a little over 8 minutes, then it ends abruptly. This may not be Hollywood quality, but I don’t want to discourage people with camcorders from creating this kind of fun, so I’m giving it a high rating.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Exploration of the Planets (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: News]This NASA film from the early 70s goes over the series of unmanned space flights that were planned to explore all the planets of the solar system. For the most part, these flights fulfilled their promise, as evidenced by how much more we know about the planets now than we did when this film was made. This gives the film quite a bit of historical value. It’s all pretty straightforward and unsurprising, but not boring either, making this worthwhile viewing for those interested in the history of planetary exploration.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
I Can’t Give You Anything but Love (downloaded from Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]A pretty woman sings “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” (Bay-Be!! You remember how it goes…) and a couple of dorky couples dance in the kind of nightclub floor show they just don’t do today. A charming soundie from the 40s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Atomic Test (downloaded from Open Source Movies). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This is actually clips from two different films: Excavating with Nuclear Explosives and Plowshare. We see a number of underground explosions as narrators tell us about plans to use nukes for excavating purposes. This is a scary concept––I hate to think of what the radiation would do to the soil. This is pretty short, but it has some interesting-looking explosions on it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Food for America (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film tells you way more than you want to know about the Beatrice Foods Company, using one of the hokiest framing devices ever. Mrs. Hargraves, an excessively polite housewife, is assigned by her church women’s group to do a paper on the food industry. Obviously she’s seen and taken to heart the film How to Prepare a Class Report, because she gets the idea off of a milk bottle to visit the local Meadow Gold plant and then immerses herself in a truly obsessive research project, by using her family’s vacation to visit darn near every Beatrice foods plant in the country. At every plant, including corporate headquarters, she is warmly welcomed by the man in charge, and they exchange very stilted conversation about the company after she goes on the standard factory tours. The factory tour footage is pretty interesting, there are some fun scen…
Disputes and Rules (film #4 on Campy Classroom Classics, Vol. 4 DVD (Something Weird, 2004)). [Category: Educational]This Coronet film aimed at grade-schoolers goes over different ways to settle disputes, including compromising, following rules, getting the facts, and voting. These ideas actually have some merit, making this one of the more reasonable and believable Coronet social guidance films. I particularly like the way the film explains that many rules are designed to help avoid disputes, which is a better reason for following rules than put forth by many social guidance films. The kids’ performances are charmingly dorky and stilted, true to Coronet form. The film does have one rather strange aspect: all the outdoor scenes have no synchronized sound, with the narrator telling us what the kids are arguing about, while the indoor scenes allow the kids to talk for themselves. Perhaps there was a technical reason for this, but it comes off looking like they were reluctant to let us h…
Customers Wanted (available for download on Feature Films. Also, film #44 on 50 Cartoon Classics DVD. Also, film #9 on Disc #1 of 100 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004). Also, film #9 on Disc #4 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]Popeye and Bluto operate competing penny arcades and get into a fight over a customer, who just happens to be Wimpy. This gives them the opportunity to show scenes from previous Popeye cartoons on their respective nickelodeons. Naturally, the winner of this competition turns out to be Wimpy. I tend to find cartoons that cannibalize previous ones in the series to be a bit of a rip-off, but this one is pretty fun all the same, featuring as it does some great penny arcade devices, as well as a great ending. Not one of the best Popeyes, but not bad for a retrospective cartoon.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Courtesy at School (available on A/V Geeks. Also available for download from Google Video. Also available on You Tube). [Category: Educational]Jerry is so hepped up about being the first one on the baseball field that he thoughtlessly knocks the books out of a girl’s hand’s as he brushes by her, and then breaks up a marble game by running through it. Fortunately, though, Jerry’s class is learning about courtesy that day. After getting a rundown on all kinds of rules to follow at school in order to make everyone’s life easier, Jerry reforms and makes himself a bunch of picture signs to remind himself to be courteous. This Cornonet film tells its story entirely through narration, making it less lively than the usual Cornonet fare. Other than a brief scene of a really strange puppet show (no Mr. Bungle, though), this is pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Charity Ball (downloaded from American Variety Stage. Also available on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]An attractive couple do a rather athletic ballroom dance for our entertainment. That’s it, but it gives you an idea of what wowed ‘em in 1897. An 1897 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Blood of Dracula Trailer (available for download on Bedazzled. Also, extra on Track of the Vampire/Nightmare Castle DVD (Madacy Entertainment)). [Category: Commercial]Mildly campy trailer for the 50s horror flick Blood of Dracula, featuring evil women, black magic, teens, and silly title cards, such as the assertion that “You Will Have Nightmares for a Week!” There’s some mild fun here, but I’ve seen better.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Bend Me, Shape Me (downloaded from Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]One-hit wonders The American Breed sing, or rather lip-synch, their one hit, “Bend Me, Shape Me,” in this TV clip. The drummer looks like he’s having way too much fun back there. This will bring back those 60s TV-watching memories.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Fat and Lean Wrestling Match (film #15 on Melies the Magician DVD (Facets Video, 2001)). [Category: Early Film & TV]Now this is what I call wrestling! Really, wouldn't the sport be a lot more interesting if it allowed such things as women turning into men, blasting your opponent to pieces and putting him back together again, or fat guys falling on skinny guys and flattening them as if they had been run over by steamrollers? One of the silliest, and therefore greatest, sports movies ever. A 1900 Melies film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Cradle of the Father of Waters (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]This 30s Department of the Interior film profiles the state parks in northeastern Minnesota, particularly Lake Itasca State Park, which contains the headwaters of the Mississippi river. Scenes from their annual pageant are shown, which celebrates the history of the area. Native Americans are very much a part of this story, and their portrayal in the film is somewhat more sympathetic and enlightened than you usually find in 30s films, though not perfect. The film also reports on the improvement projects being done by the CCC. This is a historically interesting film, documenting as it does the development of state parks during the 30s, and it has some interesting scenic and historical images in it.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Attack of the Evil Robotic Turkey from Outer Space (available on Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This silly brickfilm features an evil William Shatner, who builds and unleashes a giant robotic turkey to take over the world. Fortunately, a cowboy hero saves the day with a rolled-up newspaper. The voice acting of Shatner is very bad, but that’s appropriate somehow. The best thing about the film is the variety of amusing things in the background, such as the zombie brickfilm the hero was watching when interrupted to battle the turkey, or the “Josef Stalin for Mayor” sign.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Earth Resources Technology Satellite (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: News]This early-70s NASA film profiles the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, a satellite designed to produce detailed photos of the earth from space. These photos turned out to be very useful for a number of purposes, including charting land use, tracking environmental changes, predicting weather, and establishing geographical boundaries. The uses being discovered are profiled in detail, which makes the film rather dry after a bit, but the images themselves are very striking and beautiful, and that makes things a bit more interesting. The film is also very 70s, with 70s clothing and hairstyles aplenty, plus lots of scenes of antiquated computer technology, which was state-of-the-art at the time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Home Front (available on A/V Geeks. Also available for download on AV Geeks. Also, film #8 on The Complete Uncensored Private SNAFU DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999). Also available on You Tube.) [Category: Military & Propaganda]SNAFU, stuck in a frozen wasteland, starts complaining that everybody at home has it soft: "They don't even know there's a war on!" Technical Fairy First Class brings out a televisor that shows him just how soft the folks at home have it: Dad builds tanks, Mom plants a Victory Garden, Grandpa welds ships, and his girl has joined the WAC! This is a fairly typical SNAFU with a few good gags and a really weird moment of a horse spreading his own manure on Mom's Victory Garden.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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American Army Women Serving on All Fronts (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This WWII newsreel shows American women getting planes ready for battle and WACs arriving in Australia. This has some great scenes of women doing all kinds of “men’s work,” documenting their important role in the war effort. Also included are stories about the 5000th flying fortress being built at Boeing and covered with workers’ signatures, the United Newsreel cameraman preparing to document the invasion of Europe, an Italian-American pilot who was decorated for bravery returning to his family in Ohio, and extended footage of the Allied drive north through Italy. This newsreel packs a lot of WWII history into its short length.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Flexible Cellar Pipe (downloaded from Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This firefighting film from the 30s demonstrates a new kind of hose with an adjustable nozzle that bends in various ways. The firemen demonstrate it gleefully and then we get to see it demonstrated squirting water in an endless series of tests. This should interest firefighters way more than other viewers, though the delight the firemen display with the adjustable nozzle is mildly amusing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Anti-Superstition Society (downloaded from the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library). [Category: Hollywood]Silly newsreel story about the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago defying Friday the 13th by breaking a mirror and awarding John Glenn, the astronaut of the 13th space capsule, a watch that has only 13s on its face. A fun little pocket of weirdness from the early 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Country Goes to the Big City and Learns About Alcohol (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Educational]Bill is a country boy, but in case that isn’t obvious, he’s dressed in overalls and a straw hat, and the first time you see him, he’s fishing with a homemade pole, just like in countless sentimental illustrations from the 19th century. But Bill lives in the 20th century, so he decides that since he’s 14 already (though from the looks of things, puberty is still a ways down the road for him) he ought to go find out for himself what the gol darned fuss is about the Big City. Along the way, he meets a wino who introduces himself as Mr. Whiskey, complete with whiskey label on his shirt. That’s right, a supernatural visitor, as well as a Mr. Product, that’s a wino––I guess somebody had to do it. Together, they take a bizarre trip on foot to the city, with Bill pointing out various stock footage clips that represent careers he might like to pursue, while Mr. Whiskey puts the kibosh o…
The Hut-Sut Song (downloaded from Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]Four guys in a rooming house sing “The Hut-Sut Song” so repeatedly and annoyingly that the other boarders sensibly have them carted away to the loony bin. But since when has music been sensible? Is that the head psychiatrists and the orderlies I see singing “The Hut-Sut Song”? This soundie is essential.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Charge of Boer Cavalry No. 2 (downloaded from Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]Another sword-waving cavalry charge, and this time it looks like the cameraman almost got run over, though the illusion is ruined by having the horses stop and mill around right in front of the camera, and by the one straggler who gets halfway there and just gives up. Doesn’t make the Boers look too good, frankly. A 1900 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Blood Freak Trailer (extra on Blood Freak DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Commercial]This trailer for the gore movie Blood Freak has some genuinely disturbing images in it, but it is undercut by the fact that the killer is a guy in a lame chicken mask. Also, the gore ranges from realistic and stomach-turning to laughably bad, such as at one point where the blood looks like hot pink paint. Some of the scenes make the movie seem just above the level of Monster Kid Home Movies, though with much more disturbing content. Laughable and sick, which is a strange combination.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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The Beatles on Hollywood Palace (downloaded from Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]No, this is not a live performance––you wouldn’t have been able to hear ‘em over the screams. Instead, the Beatles showed two short promo films for their latest songs, “Penny Lane,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” These are basically music videos before there were music videos, and they’re mildly trippy and psychedelic. As usual, the host doesn’t know how to respond to them, though the girls in the audience do. A blast from the 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Children in the City (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]This 1970 film documents a federal initiative to fund recreational programs for inner-city children, showing how the money was spent in various cities. The funded programs included camperships for low-income children to go to summer camp, field trips, longer swimming pool hours, schools staying open during the summer to provide recreational activities, arts and crafts programs, athletic programs, and portable recreation vans to bring various forms of recreation, including dances and swimming pools (yes, portable swimming pools) to different impoverished areas of cities. These all look like laudable programs, and one wonders if they continue today. The film is pretty straightforward, with few surprises, though it does have a very bad folk music theme song (and I love folk music).
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Atomic Vignettes (downloaded from Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Amusing short montage film in which clips from various 50s social guidance films are combined with civil defense footage in ways that give new meanings to the clips. Most amusing is a scene where the nice young man from Are You Popular? is made to ask an emergency mechanic for a date. This is the sort of thing I like to see being done with Prelinger Archive footage.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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The Dream That Wouldn’t Down (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: News]This NASA film is a documentary about the life of Robert Goddard, the pioneering rocket researcher without whose work the space race wouldn’t have been possible. The film contains lots of archival footage of Goddard’s experiments, and was mostly narrated by Goddard’s wife, who seems to be a very intelligent woman. Still, the film ends up rather dry and tedious, which is a pity, because Goddard is such an important figure in the history of aeronautics and space travel. Part of the problem is that this was digitized in such a way that you can hardly hear the soundtrack, but still, I wish this had been a little livelier.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Discovery (available in the 1960s section of the ITV section of the Schools TV section of TVArk). [Category: Educational]Now this is sex education! This clip from an early 60s British educational TV show features a clipped British narrator and a huge electronic model of a sperm cell that the guy on the program spent a lot of time and effort to make. It’s really cool, actually, and I disagree with the writer on the website who says it was fortunate that computer graphics replaced this sort of thing. Of course, this is definitely an item for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Allies Win Myitkyina Airstrip (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Military & Propaganda]WWII newsreel that documents the taking of an important Burmese airstrip by the Allies. Also included are stories on US servicewomen touring Egypt after active duty, fighting in Normandy (including some scenes of shells with messages written on them, such as “Happy 4th, Adolph”, and the taking of Saipan. This is a very ordinary wartime newsreel, but it has historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Falling Wall ["Demolition d'un Mur"] (film #3 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994). Also, film #6 on Pioneers of the French Cinema (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A construction crew knocks down the wall of a house they're demolishing. The narrator on The Movies Begin tells us that exhibitors used to run the film backwards on this one, causing the wall to "rebuild" itself, which delighted audiences of the time. Hey, what did they have back then, RKOs? An 1895 Lumiere film. The version on The Movies Begin is in much better shape than the one on Pioneers of the French Cinema, plus it includes the backwards version!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Electric Car (downloaded from the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]British newsreel story from the 60s about electric cars, showing two different models and predicting they’ll be all over the place before long. Alas, it was not to be. The cars are cute, though, and so is the car model being used as a paperweight on the car designer’s desk.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
La Cucaracha (film #7 on Side A of Disc #1 of Comedy Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004)). [Category: Hollywood]This Hollywood-made short tells the story of a Mexican romantic couple who just barely get along, but do a smokin’ hat dance together. The woman is in a snit because a big theatrical promoter is threatening to take lover-boy away, but her attempts to prevent this end up making her a part of the show as well. This is only mildly amusing, but the costumes and dancing are pretty good.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Bike (available on A/V Geeks). [Category: Educational]A boy covets his neighbor’s bike. After the neighbor family goes away from home, leaving the bike in the yard, another kid comes over and convinces the first kid to “borrow” the bike for a ride. Later, the second kid breaks the bike in a minor accident and both kids agonize over what to do, while blaming each other. This is a well made and realistic film that simply shows the two kids dealing with the situation in kid fashion. It ends unresolved, probably to spark discussion. Assuming such discussion took place, this was probably one of the more effective “conduct” films out there.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Charge of Boer Cavalry No. 1 (downloaded from Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]A bunch of cavalrymen wielding swords charge toward us at top speed, but fortunately slow down before they run us over. A demonstration of turn-of-the-century military might. A 1900 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Blood Feast Trailer (extra on Blood Feast DVD (Something Weird, 2000). Also, extra on Blood Freak DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Commercial]If you are shocked and disturbed by viewing red paint and fake body parts, then don’t watch this trailer for the Herschel Gordon Lewis gore flick Blood Feast. Actually, considering how cheap and amateurish Lewis’ films usually are, this trailer is surprisingly well made, though gory as all get-out. The opening warning is mildly campy, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Hollywood Victory Caravan (film #6 on World War II Remembered (Diamond Entertainment, 1995)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]The first five sections of World War II Remembered are standard documentaries of various World War II subjects, but the last section, entitled "Hollywood Goes to War", is a collection of wartime propaganda ephemera featuring celebrities. It starts with this short bond drive film, in which a young L.A., woman who desperately wants to see her wounded G.I. brother in an army hospital in Washington D.C., but who can't get a seat on a train going there, sneaks into Paramount studios to try to talk Bing Crosby into letting her hitch a ride on the Hollywood Victory Caravan train taking movie stars to a big bond rally in Washington. Once in the studio, she gets chased by a cranky security guard just like the one in the Porky Pig cartoon You Ought to Be in Pictures and meets lots of movie stars, all of whom are incredibly nice and anxious to help her…
Andy Warhol and Sonny Liston for Braniff Airlines (available on Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Sonny has that deer-in-the-headlights look as Warhol babbles on about soup cans in this weird commercial. That one facial expression is worth the whole commercial.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Boulder Dam (downloaded from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]OK, so you want to know about Boulder Dam? All about Boulder Dam?? With no detail left out? Then this is your movie––35 minutes of non-stop dam construction, narrated in a breathless fashion. OK, folks, this has lots and lots of historical value in documenting the construction of the dam, but there’s only so much dam dam I can take! Include me out of the next dam movie, at least until I’ve seen a few more Mr. Products and supernatural visitors!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
Humpty Dumpty (film #8 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 1 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]Humpty Dumpty, Jr. has an adventure of his own as he must defeat the villainous Bad Egg, who has designs on his girlfriend Easter. This eggy melodrama is very cute and funny––I particularly like the concept that when both Humpty and Easter are rescued from boiling water, they end up "hard-boiled". And the egg chorus line is a memorable cartoon image. A good one.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Atomic (downloaded from Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This film features a montage of clips from cold war civil defense films, including Duck and Cover, About Fallout, and newsreel footage of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, while on the soundtrack a slow, soulful gospel song plays. At times, audio from the films plays over the music, which actually works, rather unexpectedly. The film’s simple format works well in conveying its anti-war message. One of the better ephemera montage films I’ve seen.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.