Attending Information Management. This early 70s film appears to be a training film for group counselors in some sort of social services job training program. A counselor has an initial session with five job program participants and goes through some initial information-gathering with them about their previous job experiences and their interests. The participants all seem to me to be somewhat troubled individuals who need help getting and keeping employment, such as a guy who likes working with kids but doesn’t like bosses, or a shy young woman who didn’t finish high school and has no work experience of any kind. The group leader is kind of awkward, but that just adds to the realism of the film. This is interesting enough that I would like to see more of what happens with this group, though I don’t know if the other films in the series stay with this same group or not. Overall, this is an interesting snapshot of social service practices in the early 70s. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Atomic Energy. This 1947 Encyclopedia Brittanica film explains the basics of atomic energy through animation and narration. Though somewhat dry, it explains its points well and in a way that is easy to understand, making it quite successful as an educational film. It begins and ends with big ol’ mushroom clouds for added excitement, and the chilling statement, “What lies ahead, no man knows.” Amen. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Atomic Bomb Blast Effects. This is basically silent color film footage of a couple of atomic bomb tests done in the Nevada dessert in the 50s. There’s some magnificent mushroom clouds, as well as interesting footage of stuff being tested in the blast area, and fun signage warning the soldiers to keep mum about the tests (“If You Wouldn’t Tell Stalin, Don't Tell Anyone!”). This would probably be a good film to mine for stock footage. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.
The Atom and Eve. Oh my. A conglomerate of New England power companies in the early 60s decided to go for nukes in a big way, except they felt they needed to sell women on the concept. Except they obviously had very little contact with real women, so they had to rely on stereotypes. So we get a pretty model in a diaphanous gown dancing around appliances, since that’s what women mainly need electricity for. And we also get detailed descriptions of how the nuke plant will be designed, since women care about the look of things. This is a short film, but it packs a wallop of camp. Some of the scenes with the dancing woman will have you shaking your head in disbelief. The fact that its trying to sell nuclear power is the least of its problems, and that’s saying a lot. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Atlantic Crossing: Life on an Ocean Liner. In this 60s film, 3 young boys are put on an ocean liner bound for Italy for no other purpose, it seems, than to make an educational film. One of them narrates the film, and he gets the pleasure of having a grand tour of everything passengers normally don’t get to see, such as the bridge, the crew mess, the kitchens, and the boiler room. When not getting this tour, the boys engage in various recreational activities on board the ship, such as playing ping-pong, watching trap shooters, walking through the ballroom while people are dancing, and participating in a hat party (though they don’t tell us whose was the grandest of all). They eventually make it to Italy and are greeted warmly by their Italian grandparents. This is pretty much a slice of upper-class life in the 60s. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
At the Winter Sea Ice Camp. This film, another in the “Man: A Course of Study” Netsilik Eskimo series, is quite a bit longer and more intense than At the Autumn River Camp. Again, it’s beautifully photographed and very realistic, and it seems like not a detail of the Netsilik’s traditional ways is left out, even those that are kind of hard to watch, such as scenes of butchering seals, people enthusiastically chowing down on raw seal organs, and the little baby boy frolicking in the nude (you can tell it’s a boy by…well, you just can.) One wonders of the appropriateness of some of these scenes for 5th graders, the audience this was supposedly made for. Still, there are many amazing things to watch here, such as the Eskimos building a huge, multi-roomed igloo out of nothing but snow blocks, and installing an ice window in it, the unusual way seals are hunted (it’s a variation on ice fishing), children tumbling in the snow during blizzard conditions, demonstrations of many different indoor and outdoor games, men playing a huge, really cool-looking sealskin drum, and seal hunters riding their dogsleds into a wilderness of white. It’s also a lot colder in this film than in the other one—everybody’s breath is constantly visible and the men’s facial hair is caked in ice most of the time. A great documentation of a native people’s traditional ways of life. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: ****.
At the Autumn River Camp. This 60s film, made as part of the “Man: A Course of Study” series, shows us Netsilik Eskimos demonstrating traditional ways of life and survival in a frigid Arctic world where the average temperature is -10° F, and everything freezes eventually. This is all presented without commentary, and without any translation of the language the people are speaking. The action is beautifully filmed and although these activities were supposed to be recreations of old ways no longer completely practiced, it all looks very convincing and realistic, though I sometimes wish there was some explanation of the purposes for some of the less obvious activities. This was supposed to be shown in 5th grade classrooms, and it must have been a real departure from the sort of films usually shown in grade school at that time. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****+. Overall Rating: ****.
Assignment: Tomorrow. This postwar film, made by the National Education Association, tells us how great teachers are, because they shape the future. They also explain why teachers have to get politically involved sometimes. It’s a valid message, but the film is so strident that it invites msting. Also, there are just lots of great images here of schools in the late 40s, including non-white schools, so there’s lots of historical interest. I do agree that teachers are generally unappreciated and need to be paid more, but I couldn’t help msting this film as I was watching it. I guess I could thank Mr. Hodgson for that. Warning! The end of this film is not really the end, even though it says “the end.” You’ll still have to sit through a bunch of footage about the NEA and how great it is before the bell rings. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
The Assessment of Lingual Tactile Sensation and Perception. This 70s educational film for speech language pathologists is about as technical as its name would suggest. It starts with a very boring lecture by a guy in a 70s brown suit, but forget that. The lecture is followed by footage of a male lab technician giving a series of tests to a female patient on how sensitive her tongue is to tactile stimulation. Dots are drawn on her tongue with a non-toxic ink, she is blindfolded, and her tongue is touched with various items and in various places to see if she can feel them properly, while the boring narrator drones on in the background. Although this is somewhat dull to watch all the way through, the images of the tests are striking and have great creative potential for video artists to use out of context. Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.