Easy Does It (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #473 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Silly Jam Handy film that spends most of its time arguing that the members of the “weaker sex” do just as much hard work as men do, so therefore lots of time and energy has to be put into developing an easier gearshif for them. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make much sense to me, either, but since it’s a Jam Handy film, it’s bright and breezy and fun. I like the proposed automatic makeup machine portrayed at the end of the film––I want one for the Film Ephemeral Museum of Quirky Devices. Lots of great gender role stuff to mine here.

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

Flying the Lindbergh Trail (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #524 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]

This late 30s travelogue, which features Pan-Am "Clipper Ships" touring South America, goes on and on and on. Still, there's historical value here––if you want scenes of life in pre-war South America and the Caribbean, this is your movie. The attitudes towards the natives are about as Eurocentric as you'd expect given the time it was made, and there are occasional interesting moments of animals, scenery, and cultural practices. But mostly, this is a very basic travelogue with no surprises.

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

Along Came a Duck (film #8 on Disc #2 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Maga-Pack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)). [Category: Hollywood]

Cute, cheap cartoon in which a frog saves the life of a duckling. More fun are the live-action/animated opening and closing sections featuring a little boy talking to an animated frog. Mildly amusing.

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

Buffalo Bill, Jr. – A Bronc Called Gunboat (film #4 on Disc #2 of Classic Kids’ Shows DVD (Genius Entertainment, 2004)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Standard kiddie western featuring a teen-aged cowboy who helps save the life of a supposedly-unbreakable horse while helping to catch some bad guys as well. Mildly entertaining, with a great old judge character and a little girl named Calamity to boot.

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

Bewitched (film #19 in the 1966 ABC Fall Preview section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]

Short sponsor bumper for “Bewitched.” This doesn’t have much to do with the show, but it does give you a quick rundown of the products produced by the Quaker Oats Company in 1966.

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

The Blessing of Mount Gilboa (film #13 in the Rural Settlement and Security section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Early 60s film, narrated in Spanish, documenting the rural development of Mount Gilboa in Isarel. Another plot of desolate Israeli land is made to flower. This has some historical interest, but it’s pretty ordinary.

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

50 Miracle Minutes: Operation Moving Day (film #7 in the Health section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This film from 1960 documents the moving day of the Hadassah Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem to new, more modern quarters. The story is told in great and loving detail, and with high emotion, considering the hardships the hospital went through during the various wars for independence in Israel. For someone not intimately involved in this story, it drags a bit after awhile, but I respect what they were trying to do, and suspect the film was very moving to its intended audience. It does give a historically interesting portrayal of what was involved in moving a hospital to new quarters in 1960.

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

Abstract Coaster Footage #1 (film #259 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Black-and-white footage of an old roller coaster to the tune of an acoustic version of “Across the Universe” by the Beatles. This has a nice nostalgic feel to it and allows you to groove on the visual images, which I think was its purpose.

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

The Clowns (film #1 on Clowns and Cavemen DVD (A/V Geeks)). [Category: Educational]

A collage-animated clown escapes from a painting and struggles to play ball with a most uncooperative fish. This little piece of Czech silliness was put out by an educational film distributor, but it’s hard to see what the educational value of it is. Still, it’s kind of fun to watch, as some of the animation is quite clever.

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

Death of Lawrence of Arabia (film #7 in the Featured Clip Archive section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]

British newsreel reporting the death and funeral of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia for his championing of Arab independence. This is very British, with clipped narration and the merest hint of possible foul play. Brit fans will find this historically interesting and fun to watch.

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

Attlee Here for Parley (film #76 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Post-war newsreel reporting a visit by England’s Prime Minister Clement Attlee. This is pretty dull. More interesting is a later story about a goofy-looking 3-wheeled car. Also included are stories about the president’s yacht (must be rough, Truman!) and the making of a new air speed record. The 3-wheeled car is the definite standout here. I definitely want one for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices.

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

Detroit News Newsreel (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #272 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This early newsreel documents events in Michigan. I never knew that there were local and regional newsreels made, so that's a new one on me. The most interesting story involves cops who nab speeders by jumping from their motorcycles onto the cars' running boards. More surprising than that is the penalty the speeders pay––they are sent to a prison workfarm! Remind me to always obey the speed limit in Michigan. The rest of the stories involve local community events such as parades, picnics, and sporting events. They're pretty standard, but they should have quite a bit of historical value for those researching Michigan history. A 1917 film.

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

The Easier Way (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #471 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

A guy who’s obsessed with time and motion study thoroughly ruins a dinner party by talking about nothing else and making the guests try out different ways of putting pegs into a pegboard. His wife gets even with him by assigning him to the kitchen to design a better way of doing dishes. This is a charmingly dorky film that actually makes its points pretty well, but in a silly way. Making it a highly entertaining piece of ephemera.

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

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (film #1 on Disc #4 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Mega-Pack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)). [Category: Hollywood]

Olive Oyl, a writer for Surprise Pictures, writes a version of “Aladdin” with Popeye as the main character and herself as the princess. This is told fairly straightforwardly, with the exceptions of Popeye’s mumbled asides and the fact that his can of spinach whups the magic lamp after the villain gets ahold of it. The script causes Olive to be fired, but they filmed it anyway. This is standard Popeye fare, with mildly amusing moments in a fairly ordinary cartoon.

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

Book Salesman (film #4 on The Burns & Allen Show DVD (PC Treasures, 2005). Also, film #1 on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show DVD (Treasure Box Collection)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

This is a great example of early live tv at its finest. “The Burns & Allen Show” occupied a netherworld between vaudeville, radio, and tv sitcoms. George Burns starts the show by giving a monologue on a stage, then the curtain opens to reveal a sparse house set, where the silly antics of George, Gracie, and their neighbors, the Mortons, take place. George alternates between narrating and appearing in the action, and the proceedings are wonderfully surreal, with Carnation milk commercials being bizarrely incorporated into the action, jokes being made about the open-house set, and flubbed lines and appearances of the boom mike being left in. There’s a song in the middle of things, but the real attraction is Gracie’s illogical logic, which is in full flower here. The title of the episode refers to a wonderful segment where Gracie bamboozles a book salesman until he admits defeat––I’d love to have her around to take care of telephone solicitors! The humor is still fresh and lively today, with Gracie’s character so brilliant in her stupidity that she prevails in every sequence, so you can in no way call the portrayal insulting. This episode was found on two different bargain DVDs from the dollar store, which only makes me want to dig through the bins some more to see what other gems can be found there.

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

Dangerous Comment (film #6 on Americans in War (NFV, 1990)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This British film reminds us that a slip of a lip can sink a ship. A flyer tells his girlfriend about a raid he's going on, she tells it to a friend, the friend goes to the pub and lets it slip in casual conversation, and the fifth columnist bartender tells the Nazis. Disaster for the pilots is only narrowly averted. This is told as a story to another young pilot, who then says he can't wait to tell his dad all about it, leaving the old guard officers who told the story to shake their heads in dismay. This seems to imply that the filmmakers thought the film would have no effect on its intended audience! Veddy British.

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 ...