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Showing posts from July 16, 2006
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Capture of Trenches at Candaba (film #55 on Edison Film Archive. Also, film #15 on The Spanish American War in Motion Pictures). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some soldiers, probably Cuban, fire from a trench until it is overrun by American soldiers. How did Edison’s cameraman get into the trench before the Americans took it? At any rate, this has historical interest as documentation of the Spanish American War. An 1899 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Bird’s Eye Beefburgers (film #2 in the Adverts section of TVArk). [Category: Commercial]Utterly charming British TV commercial from the 70s for Bird’s Eye Beefburgers featuring two kids with thick regional accents. One kid tries to palm off his bargain brand beefburgers on to the other kid, but the other kid will have none of it. The accents really make this, upping the cute factor several notches. You also get to see kids eating their burgers with a knife and fork, which would never happen here in the States.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Anarchy in the UK (film #115 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]I didn’t know they let the Sex Pistols on TV back in the mid 70s. But here they are, being as offensive as they can while singing rousing rock and roll. When you consider the state of pop music in 1976, this certainly shook things up, making this a great piece of rock and roll history.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Mindbenders (film #1 on Mindbenders, Vol. 1 (Something Weird, 1996)). [Category: Public Service]This FDA film from the 60s gives information on hallucinogenic drugs, particularly LSD. Although generally cautionary in tone, it’s a lot more intelligent than most anti-drug films, focusing on the results of research and admitting that not much is known yet about these drugs. There are lots of testimonies from people who have used hallucinogens, not all of them negative, though some have disturbing implications. Accounts of drug trips are shown visually with trippy psychedelic footage, making this one of the better “trip” films. The film also covers some of the controlled studies that have been done on LSD, including one in which alcoholics were given the drug as part of a treatment program, leading to breakthroughs for some (the scenes of men in their 50s downing glasses of water containing the drug lead you to wonder what they were like when they were tripping, imaginary images that …
The Archie Show (film #71 on ToonTracker Cartoon Showcase). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Opening to the late 60s Saturday morning favorite, “The Archie Show.” Man, this really brings back those Saturday morning memories! Nothing spectacular here, but if you are the right age, this will bring you zooming back to childhood.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Elizabeth Is Queen (film #5 in the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Clip from a grand and reverent film about the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. We get to see paintings of various members of the House of Windsor, ending with a painting of Elizabeth, then footage of the coronation. Boy, those English sure take their royalty seriously.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
America Goes to War (film #3 on Side A of Disc #1 of the War in Europe section of Combat Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This documentary covers the preparations for war the United States made in the months following Pearl Harbor. There’s lots of detail here, and lots of interesting archival footage, including German footage of scenes inside a U-boat. It gets a little dry in spots, but this has lots of historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
European Rest Cure (film #94 on Edison Film Archive. Also, film #18 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 1: The Films of Thomas Edison (Video Yesteryear, 1995)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A rather silly fellow takes a grand tour of Europe and has various comic misadventures. He gets seasick on the boat, gets dropped on the Blarney Stone, gets caught in a compromising position in Paris, falls into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps, gets robbed in Italy, etc. All this is supposed to be good for his health, you understand. A good argument for those who prefer to stay at home on their vacations. A 1904 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Fire Destroys Staten Island Ferry (film #1394 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This silent firefighting film from the 30s starts with newsreel footage of a fire that burned down the Staten Island Ferry Station. Then it moves on to several other fires around New York City. The last segment, on the Sky Line fire at Sherry Netherlands, features spectacular footage of the top floors of a skyscraper burning and raining down debris. Mostly, though, this is a very ordinary firefighting film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Case of the Missing Hare (film #13 on 50 Cartoon Classics DVD. Also, film #31 on Disc #1 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]This is the classic old Warners toon that features Bugs Bunny tormenting a magician who’s full of himself. This has lots of great gags, including one of the first instances of Bugs declaring “Of course, you realize this means war!”, Bugs pulling himself out of a hat, the “Try tempting me with a carrot” sign (which I want for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices), and Bugs finishing the magician off by giving him the one kind of cigar that appears in these cartoons, an exploding one. Even though I’ve seen these public domain Warners toons a million times, they still make me laugh.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.
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Capture of Boer Battery by British (film #54 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]Another bunch of Boers shoot at the British until the British overrun them. This one features a whole bunch of Scotsmen in kilts. I didn’t know the kilt was used as a battle uniform. A 1900 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage Trailer (extra on Horrors of the Black Museum DVD (VCI Entertainment)). Also, film #32 in the Trailers section of Movieflix). [Category: Commercial]This trailer for the Italian horror movie The Bird with the Crystal Plumage actually makes the film look pretty scary and suspenseful, making it one of the more successful trailers I’ve reviewed. Of course, it looks like they had a pretty good film to begin with, but that doesn’t always make a good trailer, so I give this one credit for making me shiver.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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The American Ruse (film #172 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]That great early 70s band, the MC5 play “The American Ruse” on a TV show called “The Lively Spot.” The lyrics have great counterculture angst, the lead singer’s afro is a sight to behold, the lead guitarist has some great facial expressions, and the dorky host announces Anne Murray at the end. A great blast from the early 70s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Millions of Us (film #916 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]This 30s film tells the story of a homeless unemployed worker and his depressing life on the street. Relief is not available to him because he’s a transient, he sees rich people feeding their pets while he goes hungry, and even the mission is closed for the day. Eventually, he responds to a job notice for a factory where the workers are on strike. He tries to cross the picket line, but is knocked down by the angry striking workers. One of the workers understands the guy’s plight and he takes him back to the outdoor kitchen that fixes meals for the striking workers and gives him a good meal. While the homeless guy eats, the sympathetic worker explains why the strike is necessary and why scabbing hurts everybody. His pitch is effective, for the homeless guy decides to join the picket line afterwards. This film is unfortunately missing its soundtrack, but it’s so well made you have no trouble following the story w…
The French Campaign, 1944 (film #24 in the WWII section of Movieflix. Also, film #3 on World War II, Vol. 8: D-Day, the Normandy Invasion (Madacy Video)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This March of Time short documents the Normandy Invasion and the campaign across France to Paris. Pretty standard.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Anyone’s Milk (film #36 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]This film documents a random act of kindness. Somebody marks a bottle of milk with the legend “THIS IS THE MILK FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NONE – ANYONE’S MILK” and a box of tea bags with “THIS IS FOR EVERYONE & PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE ANY TEA.” Then he puts the milk in the refrigerator and the tea in the cupboard of an employee breakroom full of food packages marked with peoples’ names. We don’t see what happens to the milk and tea, but I bet they didn’t last long.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Hawaiian Hula Song (film #1386 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]This is fairly subdued for a soundie. It features a singer with a guitar singing a hula song while a woman in a grass skirt dances the hula and a steel guitar player provides backup. That’s it, really. Play this at your next tiki party.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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England (film #165 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]Brief newsreel story about the retirement of the grand old ocean liner, the Queen Mary. This has some historical interest for nautical fans, but it’s pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Air War on Japan (film #3 on Side B of Disc #2 of the War in the Pacific section of Combat Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This documentary covers the US bombing of Japan, focusing on B-29 attacks and ending with the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This is mostly combat-focused, but there are lots of striking visuals of bombing raids, burning buildings, strategic briefings of pilots, and of a huge map of the Pacific in a strategy center. Again, this has lots of historical interest, primarily because of its visuals.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Crossroads U.S.A. (film #7 on AV Geeks). [Category: Industrial]This oil-industry sponsored film from the 50s shows us a group of people who are stranded by a storm in a gas station. One of them is Andy, a young man who just turned down a job offer by the gas station owner because he is disillusioned by the opportunities available to a young, working-class person like himself. Another stranded person just happens to be an oil prospector who just made a big strike. When Andy calls him “lucky,” he disagrees, telling him that it took a lot of hard work, money, and discouraging failed attempts before he made the big strike. Just when the storm clears up, another stranded person who just happens to be a hold-up man, gets out his gun and prepares to get money the easy way. He attempts to recruit Andy to a life of crime, but Andy attacks him rather than cooperating. The hold-up guy is eventually overpowered and turned over to the police, and this somehow convinces Andy to take the gas station…
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Une Boom Chez John (film #195 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Hollywood]This French Scopitone features a rockabilly singer, and believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard French rockabilly. There’s a reason Elvis wasn’t born in France, and this guy is gleefully unaware of it, which only makes this more entertaining. It is lively, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Anti-Drug Film (film #4 in the Hippies section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Educational]This excerpt from an unnamed 60s anti-drug film is well chosen, for it contains most of the elements necessary for such a film, such as a narrator who tells us the different street names for marijuana and LSD, scenes of teenagers partying, a bad trip, and a boring guy in a lab coat telling us about the dangers of LSD for teenagers. Since the WPA Film Library never posts whole films, this is about as good of an excerpt you’re likely to get of this genre, though I wish they had named the film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
A Day at the Fair (MST3K Episode #608: Code Name Diamond Head. Also on Disc #4 of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Vol. 3 DVD (Rhino). Also, film #400 on Prelinger Archive.). [Category: Educational]O.K,, class, because of the rain, we're not going outside for recess today. Instead, we're going to watch this fun film about a farm family that goes to the county fair! Just as fun as it sounds. The msting improves things somewhat, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Msting: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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The Big Idea (film #1 on Open Source Movies). [Category: Early Film & TV]Segment from an early TV show that presents and pitches the Wuerth Tube Saver, a device that attaches to a TV set and extends tube life. This is very creaky and slow-moving, and it advertises a dead technology, but that just makes it more fun. An interesting blip from TV’s past.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Enoch Arden (film #3 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 5: Griffith and Lubin (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]This romantic tale, based on a Tennysson poem, is a lot better than you'd expect it to be, given its period. Enoch Arden must compete with Philip for the affections of pretty Annie, but Philip eventually relents when it becomes clear to him that Annie really loves Enoch. Annie marries Enoch and they have two children, but Enoch is unable to provide for his family very well, so he takes up an opportunity for finding riches on a sea voyage. Unfortunately, he ends up shipwrecked on an island. Annie waits valiantly for her man for many years, but eventually agrees to marry Philip for the sake of her children. At first it is only a marriage of convenience for her, but she eventually develops affection for Philip after she bears a child with him. Not long afterward, Enoch is rescued from the island, overjoyed that he can be reunited with his family. But h…
Freedom Comes High (film #4 on Americans in War (NFV, 1990). Also, film #10 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 5: Patriotism. Also in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #560 on Prelinger Archive.). [Category: Military & Propaganda]A Navy wife worries about her husband, off fighting the Axis. He is eventually killed in battle, but not before sending her a message that defending freedom sometimes requires that lives be sacrificed, and that he will always be with her in spirit, whatever happens. When she gets the dreaded telegram from the Navy Department, she holds back her tears and carries on. This seems to be targeted at people who have lost loved ones in the war, telling them to keep going despite their loss. One wonders how well it was received by that audience––the makers were lucky that most Americans supported the war and knew why such sacrifices had to be made, because this is an awfully large and bitter premise to swallow. And although the young wife dep…
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Billy Blastoff TV Commercial (film #1 in the TV Commercials section of Bedazzled. Also, film #30 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Commercial]TV commercial from the 70s for Billy Blastoff, an electronic astronaut toy. “Now he walks!” the narrator crows, and we see him walk just as slowly as astronauts on the moon. He also has several different moon vehicles his battery pack can propel. The focus is on showing the toy, which is good, because the toy is very cute.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.