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Showing posts from February 18, 2007
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Ammi Belcacem (available for download on Bedazzled). This Arabic Scopitone features an attractive female singer in Western dress singing what sounds like the Arabic version of pop music. She has flirty facial expressions, but doesn’t move her body at all, though at one point she shows us her hair, a decidedly non-Muslim thing to do. Her backup singers all sport Western dress and hairstyles, but rather than dancing, they sit politely behind her while singing their parts. This Scopitone provides a fascinating glimpse into the pop music of another culture.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Cheerios (available for viewing on Movieflix). Early 50s Cheerios commercial that features an early version of the Cheerios Kid and a great 50s Cheerios box. Brief, but captures that 50s tv commercial feel.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Angel Levine Trailer (extra on The Angel Levine DVD (MGM)). Trailer from the 70s film The Angel Levine, in which Harry Belafonte plays an angel who visits Zero Mostel. Since this is the 70s, rather than the 40s (the heyday of this sort of thing), this is tough and depressing rather than charming and inspirational. It does a fairly good job of making the film look intriguing, though.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Drive and Survive (film #7 on Disc 2 of Hell’s Highway DVD (Kino Video, 2003)). Gory clip from a 60s driver’s ed film that goes over the possible causes of accidents. This stands out because it doesn’t completely blame the driver, but also talks about unsafe auto design and highway engineering as possible factors. It also gives some good advice about what to do if you find yourself in a zero visibility situation. Of course, the gory visuals of corpses tell a different story.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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Blockbuster (available for download on Bedazzled). In this TV clip, 70s glam-rockers The Sweet sing “Blockbuster.” It’s all long hair and glitter, and the guitarist in the SS uniform and Hitler mustache is guaranteed to offend your parents. I think I know where Spinal Tap got a lot of their ideas.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Formations (available for download on Open Video Project. Also available for download on Prelinger Archive). This Jam Handy driver safety film from the 30s tells us we should drive as if we are pilots flying in formation, which is just a goofy way to say we should be aware of the other cars on the road. The film goes over basic defensive driving strategies in the imitable Jam Handy style, which is lively and a bit silly. The film also gives us a good idea of what driving was like back in the 30s, an era of signaling turns with hands and fewer traffic laws. Typical Jam Handy fare with historical interest.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
A Fire in a Burlesque Theatre (film #34 on The Art of Cinema Bagins (Video Yesteryear, 1997). Also, film #34 on The Movies Begin, Volume One: The Great Train Robbery and Other Primary Works (Kino Video, 1994)). Firemen rescue some fancily-clad burlesque dancers from a burning theatre. Lots of uncovered bestockinged legs––hubba, hubba! The version on The Movies Begin is in better shape than the one on The Art of Cinema Begins. A 1904 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.
Andy Kaufman and Howdy Tell a Tale (available for viewing on You Tube). Andy Kaufman does possibly the worst ventriloquist act ever, with the help of a tattered Howdy Doody Puppet and a flip-over Little Red Riding Hood/Grandmother/Wolf doll, but because it’s Andy, he makes it work. The story of Little Red Riding Hood is successfully told despite the fact you can’t understand a word the puppets say. A fun clip from Andy’s early days of weirdness.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Blue Streak Rocket (available for viewing from National Archives). The Blue Streak rocket was a rocket developed by the British in the 50s to be an ICBM. When if failed at that function, it was tested in Britain’s early space program as a possible rocket for satellite launching. This early 60s film shows us the rocket being built and test-launched in Australia, with a very excited and hopeful air. However, the National Archives site tells us the rocket failed tests as a space vehicle and was eventually pulled from production, so that colors the film. The film is pretty ordinary for the most part, but you can’t help but begin to get a pathetic feeling for western Europe’s collaborative space program at this time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Bonn Hails Ike: Says US Will Stand by Berlin (available for download from Universal Newsreels). 50s newsreel story about a visit by President Eisenhower to West Germany to attend talks about the status of Berlin. This is unsurprising, but it has some historical value.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.
The Infantry Blues (film #6 on The Complete Uncensored Private SNAFU DVD (Image Entertainment, 1999). Also, film #7 on Private S.N.A.F.U. (Rhino, 1992)). Private Snafu sings the blues about all the hardships he suffers in the infantry. He is sure that the other branches of the service have much cushier jobs. Technical Fairy First Class gives him his wish to change services and he learns that every G.I. has it tough. I like Technical Fairy First Class' faux auctioneer patter and the concluding song, sung to the tune of "Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo".
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.