Showing posts from February 11, 2007
Freeze-In (available for viewing on A/V Geeks. Also available for download from AV Geeks. Also available for download from Google Video). Man, the 60s could get weird. This sales training film for freezer salesmen at Sears features Judy Carne and Arte Johnson in a “Laugh-In” version of freezer sales. Mostly, this involves a lot of lame gags featuring Carne as a goofy housewife and Johnson as a hapless freezer salesman. These are punctuated by “Sock It to Me” freezer gags and Johnson saying “verrrry interesting!” This was supposed to encourage the Sears salesmen to pitch their product to young housewives by promising convenience, rather that pitching to farmers and promising cubic foot space, like they had been doing for years. What the salesmen thought of this film remains lost in the mists of time, but today it elicits a huge “Huh?”
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Jack Frost (film #13 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot: The Ub Iwerks Collection, Vol. 2 DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999)). Also available for viewing in the Cartoon section of Movieflix. Also, film #4 on She (Sinister Cinema). Also, film #3 on The Cartoons That Time Forgot, Volume 3: Things That Go Bump in the Night (Kino Video, 1993).). This cute kid's cartoon features a bear cub that dares to tussle with Old Man Winter instead of hibernate, despite the warnings of Jack Frost and his mother. This is your basic kiddy cartoon plot about a child who does something he shouldn't and lives to regret it. There are a few cute cartoony touches, but for the most part it's pretty ordinary.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
Army Explorers in Space (available for download from Open Source Movies). This late-50s army film documents the first successful American satellite, Explorer 1. At last, we had finally caught up with Sputnik! This has a stripped-down feel to it, unlike the high-tech films of NASA to come. Other than that, it’s pretty ordinary, but it does have some historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Big Flame-Up (film #7 on Cartoon Sing-Along DVD (PC Treasures, 2006)). A fire department made up of various cartoon animals fights a fire in a fireproof warehouse made up of anthropomorphic cartoon flames. The flames generally prevail, getting strong enough to lead the audience in a rousing chorus of “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.” I like singing and dancing inanimate objects a lot, and these flames are particularly anarchic. The song is a lot of fun, of course, and the animal firefighters are appealingly goofy. This is not a great cartoon on say, the Warner Bros. level, but there’s lots to enjoy here.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Door to Heaven (film #1 on The Educational Archives, Vol. 6: Religion DVD (Fantoma, 2003). Also available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive). This 40s religious film takes abstract spiritual concepts and makes them concrete through a host of visual aids. Salvation is portrayed as a literal Door to Heaven. Mistaken routes to heaven, such as Good Works, Church Attendance, and (my favorite) Self-Righteousness are also portrayed as doors marked with the proper signs to identify them. Qualities that must be let go of on entrance to heaven are portrayed as actual objects, my favorite being a huge brown-wrapped package labeled “SIN” (wonder what’s in it?). Although amusingly simplistic, this film is utterly charming in its sincerity and kooky-looking props, so I’m not going to be too hard on it. Its religious message is reasonably sound for the believers and would-be believers it was made for, so why not let the prop department have …
Chauncey Depew, Senator Perkins, and Governor Whitman of New York at GOP Convention, 1916, Chicago, Ill. (available for download from Theodore Roosevelt). Early newsreel showing delegates to the Republican National Convention in 1916 in Chicago, and the coliseum where it was held. This is well preserved and has historical value as a record of the political machinations of the time, as well as being a good example of an early newsreel. A 1916 Pathe film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Andy Griffith for Post Cereal (available for viewing on You Tube). Andy Griffith shows us a pop art tie that somebody sent him, then tells us that he deals with 60s confusion by eating Post Toasties, an “old reliable”. A blast from the Silent Majority (remember them?) of the 60s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Beatles Around the World (Treasure Box Collection)). This dollar store DVD features TV news footage and newsreels of some of the Beatles’ travels. Mainly, these are travels to Australia, though the last segment features their return to England after their first US tour. Hordes of screaming fans predominate this footage, giving you an idea of the sheer intensity of Beatlemania at its height. The footage is well preserved, and though the DVD is short, it has a place in the collections of ephemera lovers and Beatles fans.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Fire! (film #38 on The Movies Begin, Volume Two: The European Pioneers (Kino Video, 1994)). A policeman discovers a house fire and calls out the fire brigade. The brave chaps rush to the fire and do their duty admirably, saving the residents of the house in the process. This is an interesting snapshot of how fires were put out back in the days of horse-drawn fire wagons. It also includes most of the cliches we've come to expect in fire scenes, including a fireman saving trapped man who had despaired that all was lost, and the fireman spreading out a rug for another trapped resident to jump into. A 1901 James A. Williamson film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Dead Right (available for viewing on You Tube). This Sid Davis pedestrian safety film from the 70s is aimed at adults for a change. It’s pretty straightforward, and not as full of scare tactics as you would expect from Davis, though he does show us a guy with a spinal cord injury he sustained after being hit by a car when he thought he had the right of way. The basic message of the film is that even if you legally have the right of way, you could still get slammed by a car if you don’t pay attention and use good judgment crossing the street, and if you get injured or killed, the fact that you were “right” will be small consolation. This is a sensible message for the most part, making this film less campy than the usual Davis fare, though the scene of the drunk pedestrian is mildly campy and the clothes, hairstyles, cars, and general depressing look of the film just screams 70s.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.