First Self-Treatment by Haemodialysis (available for viewing on Open Source Movies).

British newsreel clip from 1963 featuring a man with kidney disease who was able to hook himself up to a dialysis machine, and thus live an “almost normal life.” This fails to convey the fatiguing aspects of dialysis experienced by most patients, but it does have some historical value.

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

Bloody Iwo (film #1 on Side B of Disc #2 of the War in the Pacific section of Combat Classics DVD Megapack (Mill Creek Entertainment, 2006)).

This documentary shows us the very bloody battle to take the island of Iwo Jima in great detail from a soldier’s perspective. There are few surprises here, but the story is well told and many of the visuals are quite striking, especially the night combat footage. You really get a feel for the grit of combat from this film.

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

Adventures of Chip and Dip (available for viewing on You Tube).

Another great industrial film touting processed foods, this film was sponsored by the Potato Chip Institute, an organization loved by couch potatoes everywhere, I’m sure. Chip and Dip are two incredibly lame animated leprechauns who comment about the proceedings, while chips and dip are foodstuffs that are featured in the many recipes in the film. Yes, this film has all the industrial film necessities, including supernatural visitors (OK, pretty lame ones, but they are there), endless and increasingly unlikely recipes using the product in question, factory tour footage, and questionable nutrition information. Potato chips are touted as “real food,” containing “93% energy” (read: empty calories) and being a “natural source of salt.” Let’s see, calories, salt and fat, three of the main ingredients that bring on the disapproval of the food police, as well as making something taste real good. All that’s missing is sugar, but fortunately that is an added ingredient in many of the potato chip recipes featured (you read that right––one atrocious casserole is even topped with sugared grapes!). An easy 5 stars for this one. By the way, I’m hungry!

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

Base Brawl (film #5 on Cartoon Sing-Along DVD (PC Treasures, 2006)).

At the zoo animals’ baseball game, the elephant team is pulverizing a team made up of cute little forest creatures. During the 7th inning stretch, we are invited to sing along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” following the bouncing baseball. This little sing-along toon is rather ordinary, but charming.

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

Are You Popular? (available for viewing on You Tube.

This 1958 remake of the 40s social guidance classic shows a bit of wear and tear around the edges. The acting is uniformly terrible––the kids look and sound like they were recruited from Centron. The script is basically the same, though this time Ginny is ostracized for dating all the boys at the lunch table, Carolyn has a conversation with a friend about the dangers of going steady (so you can’t date lots of boys and you can’t go steady; what’s a girl to do?), the slightly more sophisticated 50s Carolyn agrees to go to the movies at the Strand rather than a skating party and weenie roast (and there’s no mention of “Teen Town”; the town council must have closed it down after the JD’s took over), and the couple drives away in a big 50s car with tail fins, rather than running down the street throwing snowballs at each other, illustrating the rising standard of living in the 50s. And though the house is different (smaller and poorer-looking, actually), the doorbell chimes in exactly the same way as in the older film. This is not quite as much fun as the older film, losing some of its dorky charm in the updating, but it is worth seeing for the bad acting.

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

Buy a New Car (available for viewing in The Goldbergs section of TVParty).

Clip from “Molly,” the syndicated version of the early TV classic “The Goldbergs.” In it, Molly and Jake argue over the purchase of a new car. This gives you a feel for what the sitcom was like, but it’s a little hard to make sense of out of context.

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

Fine Feathers Make Fine Birds (film #20 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 6: Rare Films (Video Yesteryear, 1997)).

Some rogues steal a car and go out on a joy ride. Police make bungling efforts to stop them, but fail until the joyriders stupidly drive the car into a pond. This allows the cops to make a wet, splashy capture of the ringleader. A rather silly film, all told. A 1905 British film.

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

After the Thin Man Trailer (extra on After the Thin Man DVD (Warner Bros., 2005). Also an extra on The Thin Man DVD (Warner Bros., 2005)).

Trailer for the first sequel to The Thin Man, the film that introduced the witty detective couple Nick and Nora Charles. This has few surprises, but it does have titles in a wonderful Art Deco font and that forgotten sense of style from Hollywood’s golden age.

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

Anarchy USA.

This film, made by the John Birch Society in 1965, purports to show us that the civil rights movement going on at that time was just a front for the Communist blueprint for takeover of the US. It does this by comparing various events in the civil rights movement to events that precipitated Communist takeover in China, Cuba, and Algeria, as well as strategies outlined in Communist writings. The problem is, just because events have some similarities doesn’t necessarily mean they are linked in any way, and like most conspiracy theories, the charges are framed in such a way that they are impossible to refute. For example, Martin Luther King is charged with being a Communist because he denies being one, like many Communist leaders did before their respective revolutions. Although very limited lip service is paid to the real need for civil rights reform, no political action to attain such reform is portrayed as anything other than Communist-inspired. The real motivations of the filmmakers are revealed when they characterize the recently passed Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts as somehow steps toward tyranny. The idea that giving African Americans voting rights is tyrannical is baffling, unless, of course, you think of “rights” in terms of the right to oppress others. The film comes off as a piece of propaganda that is just as distorted as the Communist propaganda it criticizes. It’s pretty interesting to watch from today’s standpoint, though, as it has lots of great news footage of civil rights demonstrations and events, as well as giving a clear picture of one way in which civil rights were opposed at the time.

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

Industrial Mobilization (film #5 on Industrial Incentive Films (Vintage Video)).

It's the late 40's and peace has finally come. But just because we've nixed the Nazis and slapped the Japs doesn't mean we can sit on our butts and relax! We've got to prepare for the next war! If you've ever seen the movie Invasion U.S.A., you know how it implies that peace is only the space between wars. This is the documentary version of that sentiment. It seems fairly straightforward on the surface, but just below the surface are some pretty appalling implications. Such as the assertion that women, older people, and disabled people were used extensively in war production in the last war, but that with proper planning we can prevent that in the next. Or that in the last war, working in defense plants was totally voluntary, but that's another thing that can be corrected in the next. Or that preparedness will be achieved primarily through more government bureaucracy. Another appalling Cold War relic.

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

Better Reading

Better Reading . Teenager Harold Wilson has a problem—he can’t read for (expletive deleted). So he has to spend all his free time studying ...