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Showing posts from September 3, 2006
Astro Boy Opening (film #44 on ToonTracker Cartoon Showcase). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Cheesy, yet lovable opening of the 60s syndicated cartoon show “Astro Boy.” A great slice of early 60s kidvid.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
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5th Republic: New Era Dawns as De Gaulle Invested (film #23 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]50s newsreel showing the investiture of Charles De Gaulle as president of France, ushering in France’s 5th republic. This is pretty much what you’d expect (De Gaulle even ends his speech with “Vive L’France!”), but it has historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Herr Meets Hare (film #10 on Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons (MGM/UA Home Video, 1989)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Now this is more like how we like to see Bugs Bunny! Bugs takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ends up in Germany's Black Forest, confronted by Hermann Goering himself. Of course, Goering is no match for Bugs. Bugs' impersonation of Hitler is priceless. And his impersonation of Brunhilde is a preview of What's Opera, Doc?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Biggest Bomber (film #99 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Post-war newsreel showing the B-36 bomber, at that time the biggest bomber made. Also included is a story of General Eisenhower inspecting the military in Brazil. This is all very ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
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Flying with Arthur Godfrey (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #526 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]Arthur Godfrey hosts this film, sponsored by Eastern Airlines, where he tells us that although broadcasting is his bread and butter, his real passion is flying airplanes. He tells us all about his flying history, and shows us some early planes, but the real meat of the film is an extended section of him piloting a routine Eastern Airlines domestic flight in a Lockheed Super-Constellation. This is actually quite interesting, as he goes into detail about how a commercial airline is piloted, how to navigate over water, and how pilots use instruments to guide them when the weather prevents a visual approach. Then he shows us one of the Air Force’s latest jets, and an air force pilot does some stunts for us, as well as showing us what it’s like to be in a plane when the sound barrier is broken. The film ends with an Eastern Airlines bigwig accurately pred…
Hollywood Scrapbook (film #40 in the Documentary section of Movieflix). [Category: Hollywood]In this 30s featurette, we see a bunch of random clips of stars engaging in various sports and recreational activities, narrated in a boring style by a guy who sounds like he’d rather be someplace else. The footage is blurry, most of the stars are minor and nearly unknown today, and the glimpses you get of them are brief. I think they could have tried harder with this one.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
County Hospital (film #10 on Laurel and Hardy DVD (Hallmark Home Entertainment, 2003)). [Category: Hollywood]Ollie is laid up in the hospital with a broken leg, and everything is calm and peaceful until Stan arrives. Stan causes the usual mayhem and this gets them both kicked out of the hospital, but not before Stan accidentally sits on a hypo containing a powerful narcotic. Stan ends up driving Ollie home under the influence, resulting in one of the most bizarre driving process shots ever. This short is not one of the duo’s best, but it does have its moments. I like Stan’s subtle moments the best, such as his confused expression upon hearing the word “solarium.”
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Cattle Leaving the Corral (film #34 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]Cattle are driven out of a corral, while a couple of cowboys sitting on the fence look on. This is pretty much as advertised, but for real cattle-leaving-the-corral action, I’d go with Cattle Driven to Slaughter. An 1898 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Development of a Salamander (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #430 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]Silent film from the 20s that uses time-lapse photography to show the development of a salamander from egg to larva. I bet this was really amazing back in the 20s, and it’s still pretty interesting today. There’s something amazing about cell division and growth when you see it fast enough to detect the motion. This is well photographed and fairly well preserved, with some striking imagery for a video artist to mine.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Blood and Black Lace Trailer (extra on Blood and Black Lace DVD (VCI Entertainment). Also, extra on Horrors of the Black Museum DVD (VCI Entertainment)). [Category: Commercial]Lurid, over-the-top trailer for the 50s horror movie Blood and Black Lace. The scenes shown are actually fairly scary, but the horror is skewered by the incredibly annoying narrator, who says things like, “It will skewer your emotions!” Yeah, buddy, if your voice doesn’t first.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Beatles Press Conference, Los Angeles, 8-16-64 (film #3 on Bedazzled. Also, film #3 in the Video section of Bedazzled). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This press conference from right after the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time is a real free-for-all, with everybody talking at once, and reporters simultaneously firing questions at different members of the band. The Beatles, when you can hear them, answer with their usual humorous aplomb, especially John, who does his best to be a real smartass. This has historical value, as well as an authentic unscripted feel, but I wish you could hear the questions and answers better.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Extraordinary Illusions (film #3 on Marvelous Melies (A-1 Video)). [Category: Early Film & TV]A magician creates a woman from various parts, then brings her to life and puts her through all kinds of weird transmutations. I'd like to see both a Freudian analysis and a feminist critique of this one. A 1903 Melies film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Naomi Says Yes (film #26 in the Jewish Communities section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Public Service]Susie, a puppet-animated member of Hadassah, is hell-bent on recruiting Naomi, a busy, puppet-animated Jewish housewife, into the organization. She does this by giving Hadassah the hard sell, and by forcing Naomi to climb a large, red line that represents Hadassah’s membership growth over the years. She succeeds eventually, despite the fact that neither she nor Naomi have working mouths. This is a cute, mildly strange film that makes its points well, though with the weird ambiance found in puppet animation. One of the more unusual films on the Spielberg Archive.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Assault from the Past (film #23 in the Action section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Imagine all of the famous armies and warriors of the past came and attacked us all today, due to a horrible mistake made during a time travel experiment. Only imagine it happened in Legoland. The result is all-out Lego war. The animation of the battle sequences is not bad, but the silent opening sequences, in which the plot is explained are kind of lame. Still, if you like war brickfilms, then this is your movie.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Feast Day Procession, Potero Hill (film #20 on Shaping San Francisco). [Category: News]Brief clips of a church festival parade in San Francisco in 1937, narrated by somebody who remembers such festivals. The woman’s drum corps forms a striking image, but mostly this is pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
Beachhead and Breakthrough (film #2 on Side A of Disc #2 of the War in Europe section of Combat Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]This documentary covers the early Allied advances after D-Day. This is one of the duller films in this series, focusing mostly on combat footage and on the takeovers of French towns. There are a few interesting moments in the liberation footage, but mostly this is very ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
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Flying Businessman (film #523 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film shows us all about how planes and air travel are used in business. It starts with a section on airline travel, and we see lots of grey-flannel-suited white men on airline flights, back in the days when air travel was relatively comfortable and luxurious. Then there’s a section on custom-designed company planes, and we get to see similar businessmen and secretaries doing work, and also resting and watching TV on luxurious-looking company planes. Then there’s a long section on businessmen learning to fly, and we get to see just what it’s like to take flying lessons, which is pretty interesting. The final section shows us a bunch of different brands and varieties of planes, including weird ones like the Aerocar, a flying car that never caught on but is a wonderful little obscurity in the history of flight. All in all, this is a fun film with lots of great visuals, as well as historical interest in do…
Hell-Bent for Election (film #2 on The Memphis Belle (Video Treasures, 1989)). [Category: Military & Propagadna]Chuck Jones directed this rather silly animated election promo for the 1944 presidential race. Joe the railroad switchman must throw the switch allowing the Win the War Special to get through on track 44, bypassing the Defeatist Limited, but he has to contend with a shady-looking politician from the D. Ltd. who tries to lull him to sleep. The Win the War Special has FDR's profile, while the Defeatist Limited represents the Other Leading Political Party. Of course, the Win the War Special stands for Victory, Progress, Economic Growth, Social Welfare, and everything else good, while the Defeatist Limited pulls along Depression, Inflation, Racism (the "Jim Crow Car"), Mudslinging, and even Hitler. In other words, politicking as usual, though the silliness of it makes it more palatable. Comes complete with catchy theme song with lyrics posted so you can sing al…
A Corny Concerto (film #7 on Cartoon Explosion, Vol. 3: Corny Concerto/Jerky DVD (Front Row Entertainment, 2000). Also, film #26 on 50 Cartoon Classics DVD. Also, film #20 on Disc #4 of 150 Cartoon Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2005)). [Category: Hollywood]This Warner Bros. 7-minute skewering of Fantasia is a great deal of fun, from Elmer Fudd’s embarrassing attempts to mimic Leopold Stowkowski, to seeing a standard Bugs Bunny chase toon done to the Strauss waltz “Tales of the Vienna Woods.” A necessary addition to any cartoon collection.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
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Cattle Driven to Slaughter (film #33 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also, film # 58 on Edison Film Archive. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Catagory: Early Film & TV]Longhorn cattle are driven out of a corral and into eternity by cowboys wielding big sticks. Short, but has historical value. An 1897 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Blood Alley (film #3 in the John Wayne and Television section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]Very cheap-looking trailer (or perhaps it was a TV commercial) for the 50s John Wayne vehicle Blood Alley. The cheapness is surprising, since by the 50s Wayne was making fairly big budget pictures. The cheapness adds to the camp value, as well as seeing Laruen Bacall push Wayne around, while the narrator tells us so. Brief and fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena (Tropic Twilight)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This 70s Sunn Classic film, narrated by Raymond Burr, presents us with lots of “evidence” of psychic phenomena, including historical accounts of same, scenes of lots of psychic researchers doing experiments, the claims of famous psychics, and anecdotal reports from ordinary folks of strange experiences. These anecdotal reports are perhaps the most interesting, since they are usually fairly dramatic and lack motives for deception. They are also fairly campy, as they are generally recreated with terrible actors. No arguments from skeptics or debunkers is shown, because what fun would that be? How entertaining you find this may depend on where you sit on the skeptics vs. true believers spectrum, though skeptics may nevertheless enjoy the movie for its camp/ironic value. All in all, the movie provides a good overview of the psychic fad of the 70s, as well as containing very 70s clothing, hairstyles…
Hollywood on Parade (track #1 on Studio Snapshots (Kino Video, 1998)). [Category: Hollywood]Uh, I don't know what this is supposed to prove. This was supposed to be a "screen magazine", but the only magazine it resembles is one after it has been attacked with a pair of scissors by a collage artist. It features lots of Hollywood stars and also-rans doing lots of, well, stuff. The only requirement for each segment seems to be that it fill a certain amount of screen time. Some of it is rather silly, some of it is weird, a few segments have disturbing implications (Gary Cooper flirting with a chimp?!), some are lame, and many are inexplicable. It does solve one mystery, though––it is in this film that Bela Lugosi tells Helen Kane, "You have booped your last boop!" Leaves you scratching your head.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.