Drive Your Bike (film #459 on Prelinger Archive).This bicycle safety film from the 50s is incredibly cheaply-made and stilted. In it, some boys are discovered playing in a car. When their dad asks them about it, they tell them that they have been learning at school all about “driving their bikes;” that is, following all the traffic rules so that they will have less to learn when they finally get old enough to learn to drive a car. Then they go over all the standard safety rules with their dad in a very stilted fashion––considering Dad was on his way to work, I’m surprised that he sticks around for this as long as he does. Perhaps his job is even more tedious. Anyway, after hearing all of this, Dad then asks them if they really do it, instead of just talking about it––a sensible question if ever there was one. The boys then proceed to provide not one, but three examples of them avoiding accidents because of “driving their bikes.” Dad finally leaves for work at this point, but the film goes on to show us a bit of the coach’s bicycle safety class. By this time, you have a headache from having all this stuff beaten into it so repeatedly and stiltedly. This film is campy fun in brief snatches, but it hurts to watch the whole thing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (acquired through trading).No, this is not an episode of the popular serial that we all remember. This is the first filmed version of Buck Rogers, which was a short that was shown at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair (which is why it is in the Industrial category). Well, what can I say here? The direction in incredibly stagey, the acting is wooden, and the special effects are laughable. But that’s more than made up for by the incredibly campy costumes and sets, which are over-the-top. The main battle in outer space is done entirely with toy rockets, wires, fireworks, and a hypno-vision effect, all narrated by the scientist character (otherwise it would be impossible to follow). This is as much fun as an Ed Wood film, which means it’s funnier than many so-called comedies. Too bad I can’t tell you where to get a copy––it was on a DVD+R disc with the movie The Reluctant Saint that my husband got in a trade.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****+. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Bellazza (available for download on Bedazzled).Bobby Rydell sings an Italian love song to his lady love in this Scopitone with an Italian flavor. Well, OK, he pronounces the title word “bell-late-suh.” And his sings to his blonde girlfriend at a ski resort. And there are three annoying female backup singers with no discernible singing or dancing talent, but cool pairs of white go-go boots, who break into the proceedings periodically. And they dance the limbo in a very Caucasian way. OK, I guess this is as Italian as Spaghettios, but that’s what makes it fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
A Fishy Tale (film #3 on Who Built America? (Voyager CD-ROM, 1993).No, not a silly fish tale, this is documentary footage of New York City's Lower East Side Jewish pushcart fish market. The narration gives an interesting account of the history of the market and its customers. A 1903 Edwin S. Porter film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Better Breakfasts, USA. An early-60s school class takes a field trip to a TV station. But instead of learning about television production,...
Autumn on the Farm . Farm kids Joan and Jerry have fun exploring the farm during the autumn in this 1940s EB film. They pick apples, grapes...
Beginning at Plymouth Colony. From the title, this 50s film sounds like it will be a dry historical film about the settlers at Plymouth Co...
Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things . Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers t...