Anatine (available on Brickfilms. Also available on You Tube).

Uhh, I won’t describe the plot of this very short brickfilm because it would give it all away. Suffice to say that it defines its title through the use of plasticene, and this has consequences.

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

First Pictures: Soviets Hail Space Hero (downloaded from Universal Newsreels).

Newsreel showing Russian TV news footage of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, being officially honored in Moscow in front of cheering crowds. This is interesting because it shows Russian TV news footage, which was hard to see outside of the Soviet Union at the time. Also included is a story of President Eisenhower returning to his farm in Pennsylvania. This is pretty ordinary, but it has historical interest.

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

Behind These Scenes (downloaded from Google Video).

This Department of the Interior film from 1950 highlights the importance of raw material and energy production in fighting the Cold War. Lots of industrial footage is shown of such things as iron foundries, coal mines, and hydroelectric dams, while the narrator repeatedly emphasizes how increasing production of these things is vital to our national defense. The impact on the environment of all this increasing production is not mentioned, but you wouldn’t really expect it would be, apart from the fact that the Department of the Interior is also supposed to be concerned with conservation, a theme that appears in many early DOI films, but not at all here. No surprises, really, but this has some historical interest.

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

A Fortune in Two Old Trunks (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive).

This film tells you way more than you want to know about prunes. About half of it tells the story of Louis Pellier, a Frenchman who brought the first cuttings of French prune trees to California and started the prune industry there. This is told very dramatically with actors, but with no dialogue, just narration and dramatic music, which, of course, provides ample opportunity for the viewer to supply his or her own dialogue in the form of msting. The other half of the film is the standard growing, harvesting, and packaging of produce film, featuring Sunsweet employees wearing uniforms that make them look like nurses. Near the end, we are treated to a number of tasty dishes that can be made with prunes––NOT! These are truly disgusting-looking, folks. All in all, this is your typical grower’s film, though on a subject that automatically increases its camp value.

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

Don’t Talk to Strangers (film #453 on Prelinger Archive).

A little girl named Earline encounters a man on her way home from school who tries to lure her into his car. Obviously, she’s watched plenty of Sid Davis films at school, because she immediately turns him down and writes down the license number of the car. Then she takes this information home to her mother, who, amazingly, blows it off. So the next day, the man manages to successfully pick up a classmate of hers who must have been home sick during the showing of The Dangerous Stranger. When her mother calls the school to inform them that her daughter didn’t make it home, the principal conducts a search of the playground, asking every kid there whether or not they saw the missing girl. None of them did, except for one plucky little boy who saw the girl get into the man’s car. At this point, the police are called, and they go through an excruciatingly long process of calling in detectives (including a female detective with cat’s eye glasses that have to be seen to be believed), questioning all the children again, sending out an APB, and patrolling the streets at about 15 miles an hour. Fortunately, the child molester turns out to be too neurotic to work quickly, so by the time a police officer spots his car and picks him up, the girl is unharmed. (In real life, she would have been raped, dead, and buried in a field somewhere by that time, hence the Amber Alert.) All this is told through narration, with overly-dramatic music on the soundtrack. Then the movie focuses on prevention, which amounts to stating that this never happens to nice families who have regular bedtimes for the children. The narrator tells us that Earline’s mom feels guilty for ignoring her child’s report of the strange man, but this is said over footage of her blithely reading a magazine, looking like she hasn’t a care in the world. In this film, the only smart people appear to be the kids. Watch for the cheesy title cards made with plastic letters and the scary drawing Earline made to go with her theme on dental care.

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

Ce Garcon (downloaded from Bedazzled).

In this French Scopitone, a black pop group sings a catchy song that has a sort of a French Motown feel. Except they dance like white people, so go figure. It’s just this sort of weirdness I like to see in these Scopitones, though. And the song is a real toe-tapper.

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

Amos Sensitively Interprets the Literal Meaning of the Lord’s Prayer (available in the Xma TV: How Sitcoms Spent the Holidays in the 1960s and 1970s section of TVParty).

This excerpt from a Christmas episode of “The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show” features Amos explaining the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer to his daughter, line by line. This interpretation of the prayer is neither dogmatic nor maudlin, but expresses genuine human values, ones that most of us would find meaningful even if we’re not particularly religious. It’s great that this was preserved, for it’s one of the most touching religious messages I’ve seen in a TV program.

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

ABC’s Thursday Night Lineup in 1965 (available on the Classic TV Blog of TVParty).

This isn’t a Thursday night lineup! It’s a Saturday night lineup! Nevertheless, it does feature old fogey variety shows as promised: “The King Family,” “The Lawrence Welk Show,” and “The Hollywood Palace.” All the shows your parents wanted to watch instead of the shows you wanted to watch, except maybe “The Hollywood Palace,” which occasionally had some cool guests, but was on past your bedtime. No wonder we children of the 60s need sites like Bedazzled!

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

A Beatles Medley (downloaded from Bedazzled).

This montage of ordinary British folk singing Beatles tunes was put together for a Paul McCartney TV special. It’s utterly charming, as the people in it look like they’re really having fun. Although they obviously sang the songs a capella during the filming, a backing orchestra lamely tries to play along with them, and this just adds to the humor. A fun little blip of Beatles ephemera.

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

How to Catch a Cold (available on A/V Geeks. Also available for download from Google Video). [Category: Public Service]

This Disney film, sponsored by Kleenex, features the Common Man and his little sprite conscience, Common Sense. Common Sense confronts the sick Common Man with all the forms of poor self-care he engaged in that made him vulnerable to catching a cold and all the ways he has spread the cold to others. He finally gets the dolt to stay home from work when he threatens him with worse diseases he could come down with while his immune system is busy battling the cold. The film has the fun elements of a sprite character and Disney animation, though I found myself wishing it was a bit livelier and wackier. Perhaps the filmmakers were battling a cold when they made this.

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

Feeding the Swans (film #13 on Pioneers of the French Cinema (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)).

Lookit me, I'm feeding the swans! Another early home movie. A Lumiere film.

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

Disorder in the Court (film #1 on Side B of Disc #4 of Famliy Classics DVD Megapack (Treeline Films, 2004). Also, availble for download on Feature Films. Also available on You Tube).

This is one of the funnier of the Three Stooges shorts. Larry, Moe and Curly are brought in to testify in the defense of a nightclub dancer accused of murdering her boyfriend. A courtroom is definitely not the place for the Stooges, and the resulting lawlessness is quite funny, at times getting close to the brilliance of the Marx Brothers. Highlights include Moe and Larry playing tic tac toe on the back of the defense attorney’s jacket, Moe swallowing a harmonica and being turned into a calliope by Larry, Curly attempting to swear in and not being able to do two things simultaneously, and Curly struggling with a gun (something that should never be given to one of the Stooges). The Stooges’ humor usually falls flat with me, but I found myself laughing out loud at this one.

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

The Andy Griffith Show (available in the Xmas TV: How Sitcoms Spent the Holidays in the 1960s and 1970s section of TVParty).

This clip from “The Andy Griffith Show” shows how Christmas was celebrated at the Mayberry courthouse in 1960. It features Andy and Elinor Donahue singing a charming duet of “Away in a Manger,” the obligatory conversion of the local Scrooge, and Barney playing a scary Santa. This is as charming as you’d expect and a fun clip to watch during the holiday season.

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

The First Man to Walk on the Lunar Surface (downloaded from the Apollo 11 section of WPA Film Library).

British newsreel footage of the TV footage of the landing of the Apollo 11 lunar module and Neil Armstrong’s first moonwalk. It’s bizarre seeing this as a newsreel, because I remember watching it as it happened on TV. Again, this showed why newsreels died. Still, this is important footage of a historic moment.

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

Battle of Iwo Jima (downloaded from the Featured Clip Archive of WPA Film Library).

A veteran of the battle of Iwo Jima narrates newsreel footage of the battle. This is pretty much what you’d expect, though it does have some striking images of the battle, some of them grisly, and it ends with the flag-raising we all have etched into our brains.

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

Forestry and Forest Industries (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive).

Another film in the “Your Life’s Work” series, this one goes over careers in forestry, covering both conservation work and the lumber industry. I’m sure I’ve seen some of this footage before, perhaps in Felling Forest Giants or some of the Department of the Interior films I’ve seen recently. At any rate, this is a pretty ordinary film, though it does have some striking images of forests and lumbering at a few points.

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

I Don't Want to Change the Subject (film #10 on WWII V for Victory War Bonds & Rallies Show (Something Weird, 1996)).

Hey folks! Just 'cause the war's over doesn't mean you can shirk your duty to buy War Bonds! And while you're waiting to buy, sing along with this cute little ditty. A prime piece of post-WWII ephemera.

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

Cara-Lin (downloaded from Bedazzled).

Les 5 Gentlemen play the song “Cara-Lin”, while fans dance at what must have been one of the first raves in this French Scopitone from the 60s. These guys really rock, so much so that I found myself going back to the Bedazzled site to find out who exactly they were. There’s a definite Beatles influence here, but it’s just an influence, not a rip-off––they definitely have their own sound. This song could have been a hit in the US if the lyrics hadn’t been in French.

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

Insultin' the Sultan (film #17 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 1 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)).

This cartoon is not exactly, shall we say, culturally enlightened. Willie Whopper goes to Arabia, where his girlfriend is accidentally sold into a sultan's harem, requiring him to fight the sultan and rescue her. All of the darker-skinned Arabs are portrayed as thick-lipped Sambos and the usual repetoire of racist gags are made about them. The final fate of the sultan, though, is hilariously weird and made me laugh out loud (I won't give it away). One of the weirder Willie Whoppers.

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 ...