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Showing posts from June 11, 2006
The Desert Shall Rejoice (film #17 in the Rural Settlement and Security section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This 50s film documents the extensive land reclamation projects that the new state of Israel undertook in order to build agricultural self-sufficiency. This is straightforward and extensively told, with a note of hope and optimism despite the constant threat of violence in the border settlements. This has historical value in documenting Israel’s development. There are no real surprises here, but the film is well made and moves along at a good pace, so it doesn’t get too dry either.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Look to the Land (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #856 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This very unusual Encyclopedia Britannica film from the 50s deals with the widespread environmental problems that were starting to emerge in the US mid-century. This is unusual both for its time and for Encyclopedia Britannica, which usually steered clear of political issues. It’s narrated by a folksinger, who breaks into song during transitions. He tells us about how the land has changed in many ways since the country got started, and shows us examples of farmland that has deteriorated into unusable wasteland, due to erosion, poor farming practices, and cut-and-run logging. Then it starts to tell us the story of an African-American farm family in the South, which is again unusual for its time. The father had inherited his farm from his father and hoped to pass it along to his son, but that dream was shattered when a new dam flooded his land. He got a good…
The Announcer on the Carpenters’ Specials Was Dick Tufeld (film #1 in The Carpenters’ Christmas Specials of the 70s section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening credits to the Carpenters’ first Christmas special in 1976, with voice-over announcing by Dick Tufeld. This guy announced on a lot of TV variety shows and specials, and if you watched a lot of TV during the 70s, his voice should bring back lots of memories.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Election 92 – Sky News #1 (film #8 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Extensive opening credits for British election night coverage in 1992 on Sky News. This starts with an elaborate montage of news footage from the campaign and then goes into the Sky News newsroom where announcers are excitedly beginning their coverage of the election. This is all well done and has an up-to-the-minute feel that I like to see in news clips.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Big 4 Resume Peace Talks (film #92 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel story about a post-war meeting of representatives of the four major United Nations powers: Britain, France, the USSR, and the United states to plan how to deal with post-war Europe. This is pretty straightforward, though it has a bit of historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
5th Column Mouse (film #4 on Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons (MGM/UA Home Video, 1989). Also, film #10 on Cartoon Explosion, Vol. 2: Finny Fiesta/Popeye's Greatest Hits DVD (Front Row Entertainment, 2002). Also, film #20 on Disc #1 of TV Cartoon Classics DVD Boxed Set (Platinum Disc, 2005)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]"Why we fight" told allegorically as a cat-and-mouse story. A bunch of mice live a free and easy lifestyle until a cat shows up. The cat captures one of the mice and coerces him to betray his buddies into a life of slavery. But when the cat decides he wants to start eating them, the mice decide to fight back. By all working together and developing a "secret weapon" (a dog-shaped tank), they defeat the cat. This little piece of propaganda is actually a fairly accurate depiction of how most Americans viewed World War II and their role in it. It delivers the hopeful message that the little guys can defeat the big bully if they all wo…
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FDNY Nozzle High Spray (film #1392 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]In this 20s firefighting film, a new kind of firefighting device is tested, one that shoots water out of multiple nozzles while moving back and forth on a track. The device is huge and looks difficult to set up and operate, so it’s no wonder this didn’t become standard firefighting equipment. The film does have a lot of historical value in documenting a little-known experiment in firefighting technology. Also, if you want to see lots of water squirting, this is your movie.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Brave Engineer (film #11 on Disc #1 of Disney Rarities DVD (Disney, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]Disney tells the story of Casey Jones of folksong fame in this fun cartoon. Casey is determined to get the western mail in on time, and he doesn’t let a cow on the tracks, a damsel in distressed tied to the tracks by a mustachioed villain, dozens of train robbers, or even another train on the tracks stop him. This one gets points for sheer overkill.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Got to Be This or That (film #1331 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]A pretty band singer sings the big band hit “Got to Be This or That.” This is lively, but it has no surprises.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Cameraman’s Revenge (film #1 on The Cameraman’s Revenge and Other Fantastic Tales (Film Preservation Associates, 1993). Also, film #53 on UBUWeb). [Category: Early Film & TV]This delightful piece of early puppet animation features an all-insect cast in a tale of marital infidelity. Mr. Beetle secretly goes out to a nightclub to see a dragonfly dancer that he is enamored with. Eventually, an affair develops, requiring Mr. Beetle to brush off the dragonfly’s grasshopper boyfriend. Unfortunately, Mr. Beetle doesn’t realize that the grasshopper is a film cameraman, and that film can be used to expose marital infidelity. This is all delightfully animated, with very cleverly-written title cards that add to the humor of the proceedings. This is definitely recommended to fans of animation as a great early example of the form. A 1912 Russian film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Belair Commercials Compilation #3 (film #162 on UCSF Tobacco Industry Video Collection). [Category: Commercial]This collection of Belair commercials has a number of familiar ones featuring Raleigh coupons, a couple of clips from game shows where the hosts did the Belair commercials, one really dorky spot featuring sketches instead of live action models, and a couple of brief bumpers. This makes for a fun assortment, with the game show commercials adding historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Behind Locked Doors Trailer (extra on The Child DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Lurid trailer for what looks like a very cheap sexploitation horror flick about weird things that happen to two women in an old house, which have overtones of S & M. The narrator sounds like he flunked the audition to be a Creature Feature host, which increases the camp value somewhat. Mostly, though, this is lurid, and it makes the film look very bad indeed.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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The Long Way Home (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #852 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This film, sponsored by the United Fund, tells the story of Mr. Barker, an elderly man with no family whose money has run out and who “must seek shelter in a charitable institution.” He packs his few belongings in a suitcase and heads across town on foot to the old folks’ home that is to be his new home. But first he stops off at several other places, including a hospital where he receives radiation treatments for cancer, a “Golden Age Club” that is having a meeting and social hour, and a rehabilitation facility where a friend of his is getting physical therapy. All of these places, by an incredible coincidence, are United Fund agencies. The film is meant to showcase all the community services the United Fund provides and how it helps people who have nowhere else to turn. But in its realism, it comes off as incredibly sad and depressing. Mr. Barker, in pa…
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The Cuckoo (film #373 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]Silent nature film from the 20s about the bizarre reproductive habits of the cuckoo, that bird that lays eggs in other birds’ nests and tricks the other birds into raising its young. The film is well organized and explained, but unfortunately some of the key footage is rather hard to see. Still, it’s fun to watch the filmmaker get into a giant fake bush in order to film the cuckoo at work.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Anne Frank in Bricks (film #8 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #19 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #5 in the Music Video section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]They’ve taken more than a few liberties with the original story here––they’ve hacked up the original story and put it into a blender with hundreds of pop cultural references and turned it on “liquefy.” For starters, I don’t recall the original book containing a Kentucky Fried Chicken, an elephant relieving itself on Peter, the song “Bicycle Races” by Queen, or a bicycle-repairing penguin. And it contains the most bizarre battle sequence ever put on film, if it is indeed a battle sequence. Not that any of these factors are drawbacks, mind you.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Election ‘92 – ITN (film #7 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Utlracool opening to ITN’s coverage of the British 1992 elections, featuring a montage of the bombastic voices of British politicians. This sets the tone for election night coverage like no opening credits sequence I’ve seen.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Big Da-Dit-Da Class Graduated at New Naval Radio School (film #94 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel story from World War II about the graduation of a class of telegraph operators. This has a fairly interesting and weird beginning where a teacher has the students repeat various letters of the alphabet in Morse Code, as das (dashes) and dits (dots). Then we get to see the sailors sending messages and operating teletype machines, and a little bit of footage of their graduation. An unusual bit of military history here.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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FDNY Chief Officers (film #1391 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Silent film from the 20s showing the various officers of the New York Fire Department. They do this by filming the various firemen walking down the street. Off course, this gives you some great glimpses of 1920s New York streets, which is good, because otherwise this would be boring. Tacked on the end is a segment on fire alarms which is fairly interesting. Again, this has historical value in documenting the NYFD in the 20s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Boy Meets Dog (film #1 on Disc #8 of 100 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004). Also, film #18 on Disc #1 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]This is one of the weirder Castle Films cartoons in which a boy with an abusive father brings home a puppy, which his mean dad promptly kicks out. He then slips on some roller skates, falls down the stairs, and knocks himself in the head, which, of course, causes him to have a weird dream about the error of his ways. The weirdest part of the dream is the big machine that turns him into a baby. The weirdness of this toon makes it one of the more fun of the Castle Films outings.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Calf Branding (film #26 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some cowboys brand some hapless calves. Since this was made in 1898, this is the real deal, folks. Animal lovers might find this upsetting, but this has real historical value. An 1898 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Belair Commercials Compilation #2 (film #161 on UCSF Tobacco Industry Video Collection). [Category: Commercial]The catchphrase for this particular collection of Belair commercials would make anyone snicker today: “Breathe Easy, Smoke Clean.” They all feature a woman lying in a hammock on a beach (at times, the hammock is placed in a way that looks impossible to get in or out of, giving a bizarre trapped feeling to the scene) smoking Belairs and being approached by a hunky guy who bums a cigarette from her. Easy listening music plays in the background, and a male singer intones “Breathe easy, smoke clean with new Belair.” It all is designed to make smoking seem as refreshing as an ocean breeze––what a change from reality! Of course, this makes these commercials prime ephemera, ripe for msting. There’s a whole bunch of these––it looks like the folks at Belair couldn’t quite make up their minds about how they wanted these to go.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical…
The Eclipse - The Courtship of the Sun and Moon (film #12 on The Movies Begin, Volume Four: The Magic of Melies (Kino Video, 1994)). [Category: Early Film & TV]We're gettin' into evil territory, folks. An astronomer wearing a priceless celestial robe (I want one) lectures a class of students about an upcoming solar eclipse, then goes up to his observatory to watch it himself. The actual eclipse, featuring a leering sun and a coy moon who both look male and who both lick their lips lavisiously, will leave you feeling dirty. On top of that we get to see a bunch of passing "celestial bodies" and a bizarre traffic tie-up between a lunar nymph, Father Time, and a Roman Legionaire. The whole thing excites the astronomer so much he falls right out the window! An unforgettable Melies romp. A 1907 Melies film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Desert Lakes (film #16 in the Rural Settlement and Security section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This 60s Israeli film shows how irrigation has transformed the Negev area from a desert to an area of fertile farmland. Its narrated in Hebrew, but despite that, the story really isn’t too difficult to follow. The film has some striking visuals of both desert conditions and rushing water. And the music is quite nice, making this a pleasant viewing experience despite the language barrier.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Keep It to Yourself (film #32 on National Archives). [Category: Public Service]Campy British PSA from the 60s featuring the Litter Defense Volunteers (LDVs), a bunch of incredibly white Up-With-People rejects in incredibly white outfits who go around picking up after litterbugs in tan overcoats, while James Bond-type music plays on the soundtrack. I bet they were effective in stopping litter––I know if I encountered a bunch of them it would scare the bejeebers out of me and I would never littler again.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Ann Sothern (film #3 in the Lucy & Desi’s Lost Christmas Special section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]In this clip from a 1959 Lucy & Desi Christmas special, Ann is signing autographs while Lucy is fretting about the approaching curtain time for the special. Considering that this special has never been rebroadcast, this his lots of historical value, as well as being mildly amusing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Election 92 – BBC News (film #6 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Very dramatic opening credits for election night coverage in 1992 on the BBC. This is actually well done and fun to watch, featuring film clips of various politicians and newspeople. It’s interesting to watch the openings to election night coverage evolve over time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Big Convoy to Russia Beats Off Nazis (film #93 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]WWII newsreel reporting a convoy of ships fighting off German attacks. This features fairly exciting combat footage. This is followed by a story about a huge tax increase, which I’m sure was welcome news to all. This features a guy who blinks too much. Then comes a story about an Australian dog who was adopted by a GI unit. This features an upsetting scene of the dog tormenting a tied-up cat. Then there’s a lively story about tank inspection. This features a guy scrawling “OK” on approved tanks. There’s something about this newsreels that really gives you a feel for the war years, both the good and the bad times.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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FDNY Chief Kenlon’s Ride (film #1390 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]More fire-engine-cam! This features another wild ride of the NYFD with a camera mounted on the front of a fire engine. Again, the streets are snow-covered, and pedestrians have to duck the fire engine as it occasionally goes up on the sidewalk. Again, this looks incredibly dangerous, but perhaps standards were different in the 20s. Following this is footage of the department fighting several major fires in the New York City area. This is all silent footage, but it has a great deal of historical value in documenting firefighting techniques back in the 20s, as well as giving us some great street scenes from the period.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
A Bout with a Trout (film #7 on Disc #3 of TV Cartoon Classics DVD Boxed Set (Platinum Disc, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]Little Lulu plays hooky from school to go fishing. When a big catch causes her to knock her head against a tree and pass out, she has a really weird dream to the tune of “Swinging on a Star.” Cartoon dreams are usually pretty surreal, and this doesn’t disappoint. Somehow, this weird dream gets her to go back to school, but she’s still up to her old tricks at the cartoon’s end. I love cartoon dream sequences, so this gets high marks from me.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Children’s Heroes – Kevin Keegan (film #59 on National Archives). [Category: Educational]British soccer champ Kevin Keegan accosts a kid about to run out into traffic and shows him how to cross the street safely. This probably had some impact on its intended audience, that is, if it didn’t encourage them to run into traffic in the hopes of getting accosted by one of their heroes.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Cake Walk (film #3 in the Dance section of American Variety Stage). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some African-Americans do a lively dance for us. This has a lot of historical value as a documentation of African-American dance styles back in 1903. You can see tap dancing emerging here. A 1903 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
A Few Quick Facts About Fear (film #25 on The Complete Uncensored Private SNAFU DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Using Private SNAFU as a model, the narrator tells us what happens within the body when we become afraid, the point being that fear gives us extra energy that we can use for our own benefit. Again, this comes off more like an educational film than a SNAFU cartoon, but it's better made and more interestingly animated than A Few Quick Facts.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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BBQ (film #5 on Drive-In Movie Ads). [Category: Commercial]Snack bar promo showing a way more elaborate and authentic method of making barbecue sandwiches than was probably actually used. Still, it makes me hungry––unlike most snack bar promos, this stuff looks pretty tasty.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Departure of Youth (film #17 in the Pre-State section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This 1934 film documents the arrival of a large group of Jewish youth from Germany arriving in a Jewish settlement in Palestine. The film is silent and the title cards are all in German, so it’s kind of hard to follow. Mostly, though, it seems to involve the young people adapting to a healthy rural way of life, doing lots of farm chores and singing and dancing their evenings away. There’s a poignancy about this because this is not just about healthy living––you know that immigration to Palestine probably saved the lives of most of them. For that reason, I wish I could understand the title cards––this looks like it might have been a very interesting little-known story of a group that escaped the Holocaust.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Keep Britain Tidy (film #58 on National Archives). [Category: Public Service]Uh oh, now I have to get into the fish tank and sing. I never knew England wasn’t a litter bin––I guess you learn something new every day.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Ann-Margaret Special (film #31 in the 1969 section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Ann-Margaret banters with Dean Martin in this clip from her 1969 TV special. The banter is that typically silly TV special banter, which you know was carefully scripted, but was supposed to come off as ad-libbed. Ann-Margaret and Dino don’t do too badly at it, actually, which indicates how experienced they were as performers. A typical TV special moment from the 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Coronation (film #6 in the Queen Elizabeth II section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Clip from a British film about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This is pretty much what you’d expect, but it has historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Bernard Baruch, Adviser to Presidents, Is Dead at 94 (film #90 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel story from the 50s reporting the death of Bernard Baruch, a philanthropist who tried to ban nuclear weapons. This is pretty standard, though Baruch sounds like an interesting, little-known figure.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Good Scout (film #13 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 1 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]In which our hero, Willie Whopper, Boy Scout, relates all the good deeds he did in a day, most of which have questionable consequences, and which culminate in him rescuing a kidnapping victim who looks like Betty Boop's sister. This has some wonderful Harold-Lloyd-style daredevil skyscraper hi-jinx, as well as some genuinely funny gags involving good deeds gone wrong. One of the better Willie Whoppers.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
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Faster and Faster (film #10 in the 100 Years in the Air section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]Clip from a British documentary about the first test flight of the Concorde, the first supersonic commercial airliner. This is fairly gripping, especially the sound of the plane, which is otherworldly on film, though I hate to think what it must sound like to people living close to airports where this thing lands. The whole film would have been better, but this has historical value even as a clip.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bored of Education (film #10 on Disc #3 of TV Cartoon Classics DVD Boxed Set (Platinum Disc, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]After Little Lulu gets sent to the corner for not studying her history lesson, and for engaging in mischief with Tubby, she has a bizarre hallucination where she goes back into various events in American history and chases Tubby around, while Tubby poses as various historical figures. This is truly bizarre and fun to watch, though it does contain some Native American stereotypes. This is not as anarchic as typical Little Lulu fare, but it makes up for it in weirdness.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Charley’s Tea Party (film #46 on National Archives). [Category: Educational]Some tea party! Charley the cat gets badly burned when he pulled on the tablecloth of the tea table (a typically British tea was set out on it) to get at some kippers and the teapot full of hot water fell on him. This one is almost too upsetting, yet I think it has just the right touch to be a good warning for kids, especially when you consider that they probably have gotten to know and like Charley throughout this series.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Caicedo (with Pole) (film #51 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]A guy on a tightrope jumps around and does backflips, all while holding a pole. And are those tattoos on him, or is that just his costume? A slice of late 19th century entertainment. An 1894 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Bat Trailer (extra on Jack the Ripper DVD (Sinister Cinema)). [Category: Commercial]Vincent Price narrates this ultra-campy trailer for the 50s horror film The Bat, always a sign of fun to come. Highlights include a woman screaming bloody murder when a plastic bat lands on her hand and the assertion, “When it flies, somebody dies!” Great fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
A Day in Degania (film #16 in the Pre-State section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This 1937 film shows us Degania, the first kibbutz in what would later become Israel. The film is very optimistic in tone, showing the kibbutz as highly successful, both economically and socially, and giving Jews everywhere hope. Considering this was made when Nazi anti-Semitism was rapidly taking over Europe, that was probably true. This is a very historically interesting film as it documents the history of the kibbutz movement, as well as the development of Jewish settlement in Palestine. The visuals, especially, give a real sense of what it was like to live in a kibbutz at the time. Some of the political ideas expressed, such as the superiority of Jewish agriculture or the status of women, will be considered controversial, but those too give you a real sense of the time and place the film was made.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical I…
How to Vote at a General Election (film #34 on National Archives). [Category: Public Service]Dry British PSA from the 70s telling people how to vote. There’s something about the starkness and Britishness of this that appeals to me, though. Perhaps it’s because it’s so calm and unemotional, unlike the stridency found in most elections.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Animation Outtakes from the Lost World (extra on The Lost World DVD (Image Entertainment, 2001)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]These are outtakes of the stop-motion animated dinosaurs featured in the 20s movie The Lost World. These were animated by Willis O’Brien, and he had a talent for making his creatures seem like real characters rather than special effects. The dinosaurs, though rather stiffly animated at times, have a real charm to them, so these outtakes are fun to watch. I especially liked seeing more footage of the mama triceratops and her baby. Included are brief moments where you can see the animators moving the models, increasing the historical value of the clips, which are beautifully restored. A great extra to include with The Lost World.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Election 1987 – BBC News (film #5 in the News section of TVArk). [Category: News]Opening credits and the very beginning of an election night report on the BBC in 1987. This has a real up-to-the-minute feel to it, as the anchorman announces that the polls just closed, so that makes it a bit more historically interesting than some of the other election night clips on this site. And the computer graphics are well done, too.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Berlin Siege: Gen. Clay Returns to Report on Red Crisis (film #88 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Newsreel from the late 40s reporting on the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the subsequent Berlin Airlift. Also included are stories on the continuation of the military draft, American communists being arrested and tried for treason, and the US giving four submarines to Turkey. There’s a definite cold war feeling here in all of these stories, making this a good example of a newsreel from the postwar period.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Fastax-tion (film #507 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Early 60s 3-M film designed to sell the Fastax high speed movie camera to engineers. The various uses of the camera by different companies to study high-speed motion are profiled, from Hercules Power’s study of rocket engine firing to Munsingwear’s identification of a faulty knitting needle in one of their high-speed knitting machines. Lots of samples of high-speed photography are shown and these are the most interesting sequences of the film. The scene of popcorn popping in slow motion should have been used in a drive-in snack bar promo, the scene of big ugly 50s cars in crash tests should have been used in a driver’s ed film, while the scene of the guy getting a pie in the face speaks for itself. Overall, this is an unusual film that documents a little known corner of film history, as well as being a great film to mine for a video project.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Ove…
The Crossroads Crash (film #10 on AV Geeks. Also, film #10 on The Educational Archives, Volume Three: Driver's Ed DVD (Fantoma, 2001)). [Category: Educational]The rules for handling intersections are presented in a very 70s manner, from the Bonnie and Clyde opening to the big, earth-toned cars. The points are occasionally punctuated by crash-test footage featuring big black 50s Cadillacs with huge tailfins. A lightweight in the driver's ed genre.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.