Ahoy! Have Any of You Lot Seen Sinbad? (film #302 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Robots with junk bodies and human skull heads dance a robot twist to Elvis’ “Hound Dog”. Proving that even robots dig rock ‘n’ roll. I love robots so I enjoyed this.

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

Drew Pearson Reporting on Religion in Israel (film #14 in the General section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: News]

This 50s film features reporter Drew Pearson reporting on religious freedom in Israel. The portrait is quite rosy and optimistic, with Jews, Muslims, and Christians peacefully practicing their faiths together. However, the shadow of potential violence occasionally peeks into the proceedings. This is a historically interesting film that gives us a snapshot of religious practices in Israel during the 50s. It’s too bad such peace and tolerance could not be maintained over the long run.

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

Baghdad Pact: Unified Military Command Foreseen (film #82 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

50s newsreel story about peace talks in the Middle East that were rudely preceded by a bombing at the American embassy. Also included is a story about a large camera designed to track missiles. This is straightforward and unsurprising.

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

Exclusively Yours (film #487 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This 50s film for Texaco dealers introduces the new improved Sky Chief gasoline with Petrox, a new additive that sounds like it was made from oxtails, but was actually made from petroleum. Several white men lecture at us about it, the best of which is Phil Foster, a master of maniacal facial expressions. The concluding message from C. B. Barrett includes mention of several other must-have ephemeral films that Texaco made at the time, including one about gas station restrooms which sounds like a must-have. There’s also some great visuals of cutaway engines, gasoline additives in unmarked beakers, and Texaco print ads and billboards. Overall, this film is pretty ordinary, but it has some great individual moments in it.

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

Draftee Daffy (film #2 on Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons (MGM/UA Home Video, 1989)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Daffy, upon hearing of a "smashing frontal attack on enemy rear", breaks into enthusiastic patriotic revelry...until he gets a call from the little man from the draft board. He spends the rest of the cartoon trying desperately to hide from the Droopy-like man from the draft board, who finds him wherever he goes. Lots of fun.

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

Assault and Flattery (film #7 on Cartoon Explosion, Vol. 2: Funny Fiesta/Popeye’s Greatest Hits DVD (Front Row Entertainment, 2002). Also, film #21 on Cartoon Mania DVD (Front Row Entertainment, 2002). Also, film #40 on 50 Cartoon Classics DVD. Also, film #5 on Disc #1 of 100 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004). Also, film #5 on Disc #4 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]

This is one of those Popeye cartoons that is made up of clips from other Popeye cartoons. Bluto takes Popeye to court, charging him with assault and battery. This is a funny premise, and Wimpy does an amusing turn as the judge, but much more could have been done with this that wasn’t. Basically, this is a rerun toon.

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

For the Birds (Audio Commentary) (extra on Monsters, Inc. DVD (Disney-Pixar, 2002)). [Category: Hollywood]

Commentary is provided by Jim Eggleston, the director of the short. He gives us a few interesting tidbits about the short's production, but there's not enough time for him to say much.

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

Burns & Allen Show #2 (film #2 on Side A of Disc #4 of TV Favorites DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2003)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

More fun with George Burns and Gracie Allen, with the usual collection of great gags, surrealism, witty asides, Carnation commercials seamlessly worked into the action, and a plot that’s “more than a variety show, but less than professional wrestling.” After thoroughly bamboozling the tax assessor, Gracie gets a dent in the car and tries to cover it up by having Bill Goddwin borrow it. This may be early TV, but it holds up well today.

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

Belair & Raleigh Commercials Compilation #2 (film #163 on UCSF Tobacco Control Archive). [Category: Commerical]

Three more commercials for Belair and Raleigh cigarettes. These are especially dorky, featuring minimalist sets and announcers that magically make a couples’ Raleigh premiums disappear, until they say, “But we do smoke Raleighs!” Fortunately, they bear no negative consequences from having things like stepladders or chairs disappear out from under them––their weight continues to be supported by thin air. Would that the health consequences of smoking be so ephemeral.

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

Communications and Our Town (film #359 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

A telephone lineman rescues a model plane from some telephone wires and returns it to the two boys who threw it there, one of whom is Jerry Mathers as the Beaver, while overly-dramatic music plays on the soundtrack. Rather than bawling them out, the lineman takes a large chunk out of his workday to talk with them about the various forms of communication in their community, including the telephone, mail, and radio. The Beave points out that an obvious form of communication is “just talking to people,” but the lineman, although agreeing with this, never lets the boys talk for themselves, but insists upon narrating the entire film in voice-over. He then creates an elaborate, though primitive, model of their town on the sidewalk, using rolls of tape, a pocketknife, and other lineman stuff, and connects everything together, including the “church,” with short lengths of telephone wire, which coincidentally form a pentagram. Just when you’re beginning to wonder about the wholesomeness of this lineman’s influence on young minds, he decides to get back to work, after giving the boys the “fun” assignment of making a list of all the different kinds of communication they can find in their town, the better to spread his Satanic philosoph––no, no, forget I said that. That pentagram means nothing, actually. Granted, Eddie Haskell did grow up to be Alice Coop––no, no, it’s just a coincidence, folks. Move along, now. Nothing to see here.

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 ...