The Carpet (film #3 in the Rural Settlement and Security section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This 50s film tells the story of a young Jewish woman from Kurdistan whose family has recently settled in Israel. The Kurdish Jews live a traditional Middle-Eastern lifestyle much different from the European and American Jews living in Israel that are profiled in other Spielberg Archive films. The young woman is eventually placed in an arranged marriage, and we get to see the wedding customs of her people, which are a combination of Jewish and Kurdish. Fortunately, she likes her husband, but unfortunately, he is soon killed in a border dispute. Not only must she face her grief, she loses her role as a married woman in her community, and there is little for her to look forward to as a young widow in her culture. A social worker encourages her to use her traditional needlework skills to create carpets for sale, and this helps to restore self-esteem and a sense of purpose to her. This is a touching film with subtle feminist overtones that are surprising given the time it was made. For instance, during the wedding ceremony, the young woman’s new husband places his foot over hers, which in her culture is a symbol of the husband being in charge in the home; but the woman responds to this by pulling her foot out of her slipper, indicating she does not accept such domination. Also, the intervention of the social worker lets the woman know that she need not accept the depressingly useless role her culture ascribes to her as a widow. This is surprising given that in the early 50s, there wasn’t much feminism going on even in Western culture. Despite this questioning of the patriarchal aspect of Kurdish culture, the film overall is respectful of it. The film also has a lot of historical value in documenting the culture of Kurdish Jews.

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

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913) (Sinister Cinema). [Category: Early Film & TV]

It's only two years later, but this adaptation is much longer than the 1911 version, with much more complex storytelling and lots more exposition. Lots more stuff happens, too. The Mr. Hyde makeup, though, is not nearly as good as in the 1911 version, and, I dunno, the film is just not as much fun as the earlier one (though there are some scenes with Mr. Hyde and Jekyll's servants that are priceless). A 1913 IMP film. Sinister Cinema gets a few extra points for throwing some extras onto the tape.

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

Among Your Souvenirs (film #1 on AV Geeks). [Category: Public Service]

This 60s film warns travelers of the dangers of accidentally bringing back foreign insect pests and plant diseases in the souvenirs they buy, and explains why customs officials have to inspect your luggage and confiscate certain items. Although the danger is real, there is a real paranoid feel to this film in its fears of foreign contamination, making the film rather mstable. Fun to see are the many tacky souvenirs pictured and Pestina, the slutty cartoon character meant to represent foreign insect pests. Mostly, this is pretty ordinary, but it has its moments.

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

Airwaves (film #882 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Computer animation brings us undersea stalagmites and bubble-like forms, while techno music plays in the background. Fairly mesmerizing.

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

Duck and Cover (film #1 on Atomic Beach Blast Bingo DVD (A/V Geeks).Also, film #1 on Atomic Memories (Video Yesteryear). Also, film #2 on Atomic Scare Films, Vol. 1 (Something Weird, 1996). Also, film #1 on Atomic TV (Video Resources, 1994). Also, extra on Atomic War Bride/This Is Not a Test DVD (Something Weird, 2002). Also, film #5 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 5: Patriotism DVD (Fantoma, 2003). Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #466 on Prelinger Archive. Also, film #1 on U.S. Government Classics (Worldwide Entertainment Marketing, 1991)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This children's educational film is probably the most memorable piece of Cold War ephemera. Animated Bert the Turtle tells kids they always have to be aware that the atomic bomb could go off any minute, but if they duck down and cover the backs of their necks, they'll be O.K. Apparently, this was widely shown in elementary schools during the 50s, and one wonders the effect it had on the mental health of the schoolchildren of the era. A must.

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

Drew Pearson Reports on Science in Israel (film #15 in the General section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: News]

Reporter Drew Pearson tells us all about scientific research in Israel in this 50s film, covering such things as medical research, nuclear energy, fly control, and early experiments into solar energy. Many of Israel’s leading scientists of the time are interviewed. If you want to know about the state of scientific research in Israel in the 50s, then this is your film. The variety of different kinds of research presented keeps the film fairly interesting to the average viewer as well.

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

The Ballad of Kiriat Shmoneh (film #11 in the Cities section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This 70s film tells the story of terrorist attacks on the Israeli city of Kiriat Shmoneh, a city on the border with Lebanon. Mostly, this is the story of how the people survived the trauma of the massacre-like attacks, which involved Arab terrorists going door to door and killing everybody they found. They let the people tell their own stories in this, which makes for a powerful film that has impact without a hint of melodrama. A compelling portrait of how terrorism affects the lives of ordinary people.

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

Explosives: Tool for Progress (film #5 on AV Geeks). [Category: Industrial]

This 70s film asserts that we owe everything good in our modern society entirely––not to railroads, not to aluminum, not to crop spraying, not even to truck farmers––but to blowing things up, a sentiment every boy will agree with. Unfortunately, they don’t really get around to blowing things up real good until the end of the film. Until then, we get lots of scenes of construction projects in Manhattan, the Grand Coulee Dam, and the Panama Canal, with a scene of a very 70s housewife and her little girl baking a pie in a very 70s kitchen thrown in for good measure. Consequently, the film is not quite as much fun as it sounds––by the end of the film, all fans of explosions will be chanting “Blast ‘em! Blast ‘em! Blast ‘em!” over and over again. For real explosion fun, I say stick with the atomic bomb films of the 50s.

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

Fright to the Finish (film #3 on Cartoon Explosion, Vol. 2: Foney Fables/Popeye's Greatest Hits DVD (Front Row Entertainment, 2002). Also, film #17 on Cartoon Mania DVD (Front Row Entertainment, 2002). Also, extra on Drive-In Discs, Vol. 2 DVD (Elite Entertainment, 2001). Also, film #132 on Feature Films. Also, film #41 on 50 Cartoon Classics DVD. Also, film #19 on Film Chest Vintage Cartoons. Also, film #6 on Disc #1 of 100 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004). Also, film #6 on Disc #4 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)). [Category: Hollywood]

On Halloween night, Popeye and Bluto take turns scaring Olive Oyl to death, while making her believe it's the other one doing it. This has some funny gags, including "vanishing cream" that does just what you expect it to do in a cartoon, but mostly it's pretty ordinary.

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 ...