A Day in History: Telstar Brings World Closer (film #27 on Universal Newsreels). {Category: News]

Early 60s newsreel documenting the launching and testing of Telstar, the first communications satellite. This has great historical value, and is fun to watch as well, featuring animations of radio waves bouncing off the satellite, footage of it being built, and footage from the first satellite television broadcast. It also gives a fairly accurate prediction of such satellites encircling the earth, except for the part about it increasing international understanding.

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

Desperate Poaching Affray (film #30 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Cops chase some poachers. That's it, really, but it's one heckuva chase. The actors looked like they had way too much fun in the water sequence. Great title, eh? A 1903 Haggar and Sons film.

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

Atom Test Nears (film #75 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Newsreel excerpt from the late 40s reporting on sailors preparing for Operation Crossroads, another big atomic bomb test at sea. This mostly involves the narrator making light of airplanes crash landing on carriers. Preceding this is a collection of brief mentions of minor-league celebrities that probably few have heard of today, except, of course, Marlene Dietrich, who is in full flower here. An interesting, though brief, glimpse at the post-war period.

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

Drug Effects (film #7 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 7: More Sex & Drugs DVD (Fantoma, 2003)). [Category: Industrial]

This was part of a series of films for managers teaching them how to address drug problems among their employees. For some baffling reason, this was done with an animated film using Flintstones-like characters. The caveman professor gives another caveman marijuana in order to show us the effects of the drug; however, the depiction of said effects is broadly comic and grossly exaggerated. Nevertheless, the film ends with the professor showing the audience how this film fits into the overall series of films, saying, “Now you know all about drug effects.” That’s like saying a person would know all about Paleolithic humans from watching an episode of “The Flintstones.” A head-scratcher.

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

Daffy the Commando (film #6 on Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons (MGM/UA Home Video, 1989). Also, film #2 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987). Also, film #7 on V for Victory WWII Cartoons & Shorts Show (Something Weird, 1996)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

You've probably seen this one a million times––it's a public domain Warner Brothers toon that is shown on tv all the time and appears on many video collections. Still, it's pretty funny. Daffy the Commando torments two Nazi eagles in his usual style. One Nazi eagle is a colonel and the other is a sergeant named Schultz––one wonders if "Hogan's Heroes" got the idea for its Nazi characters from this cartoon. Don't miss the great rotoscoped Hitler raving in outrageous faux German at the end.

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

Better Reading

Better Reading . Teenager Harold Wilson has a problem—he can’t read for (expletive deleted). So he has to spend all his free time studying ...