Monday, April 14, 2008

Films on 4/13/08

Got to get into the habit of posting to this blog and documenting some of the films from my collection (part of my "irrational passion"). Here's what we saw tonight along with some random thoughts:

Americans At Work: Barbers (1959 circa.) AFL-CIO/Norwood Films
I showed this in honor of Roxxi Dott visiting from LA. She's a hairstylist for the stars and recently a member of the hairstylist union. Anyhow this film was made for TV distribution. I got it from someone who had a closet full of films from WUNC - the local public television station. Rick Prelinger has the film in his online collection at the Internet Archive (embedded to the right). It's also available on my On The Job DVD. The film is part of a series by the AFL-CIO on a variety of occupations, this film shows us how valuable the hairstylist and barber are to the American family. Films like this were part recruitment for the field, but also a reminder to the public to frequent unionized barbershops. The best scene is the father and son loitering outside the beauty salon, waiting for the mother and daughter to get "beautified". Dad smokes while he waits and you can tell they're waiting a while since he's stomped out three cigarettes. Also, we are reminded that ""If attractive people are the leaders of society, then barbers and beauticians are the molders of leaders."

Food 1, 2, 3, 4 (1976) Handel Films
Designed for young kids, this film introduces us to the four food groups circa 1976. Each food group has a different song (the milk group tune was particularly catchy). Best scenes - to illustrate that snack foods are bad, a bowl of soda pop and milk are placed in front of a dog. The dog (who is sporting a San Fran Police Dept collar), of course, goes for the milk (but is cow milk really good for an adult dog?). Then the viewer is shown a series of food choices - a snack and a healthy alternative (candy bar vs. banana, cookies vs. walnuts, candy vs. raisins, soda vs chocolate milk, etc). The camera zooms to the healthy alternative without any narration. My AV database describes the film "Explains the simple and easy ways of obtaining proper nutrition, using a subliminal approach. "

Saying No - a Few Words to Young Women about Sex (1982) Crommie And Crommie
We see a couple making out and the guy is trying to convince his girlfriend to "make it" with him. She isn't convinced. The rest of the film presents young women talking about their personal decisions regarding sexuality, how they have been affected by their decisions, and how they respect themselves for having the courage and will-power to abstain from sex. It's interesting because it gives teenage girls some things to say when pressured to have sex. Crommie and Crommie made another great film for woman (VD and Woman) which tells women to bring their own condoms, since the guys probably wouldn't have them - a great tip which I've never seen in any other sex-ed film. Lots of hair with Farrah Fawcett wings and IZOD shirts in this film.

Comparative Tests on a Human and a Chimpanzee Infant of Approximately the same Age, Pt 2 (1932)
Winthrop Niles Kellogg
I was alerted to this experiment by Carrie Mclaren of Stay Free. She wanted to know if I had any films about Kellogg. I didn't but about a month later this film shows up on Ebay. Essentially, Kellogg raised an infant child and chimp together and this film shows how the two's responses differ in various tests. Without any background on the experiment, the tests seem insane -including hand preference, startle reaction time (to a pistol being discharged), delayed reaction, cap-on-head (the chimp hates this), detour, tickle, tasting ice (the child hates this) and rotation tests. This had us laughing hysterically while being baffled and unsettled by what we were watching - always a great sign for a classic film. Hope to get this one online and on a DVD soon...

The Great Silence (circa 1976) Paul Ritts Production
This film seems mildly apocalyptic as puppets tell us about the day when, suddenly (after what looks like a flash from an atomic blast), people can no longer talk. The puppets (an ostrich, a giraffe, a chipmunk, a crow, etc.) all stirred something in my memory. I vague remember seeing them on TV - in a PSA or something. After doing some Googling, I found this clip to the right and I'm sure I saw them on the Pink Panther Show. I'm probably going to have to do another puppet film show just to highlight this film.

Step Lightly (1968) Countryman-Klang, Inc
While this film was made for the U.S. Public Health Services, it seems like it was sponsored by the Reflective Material Trade Association. Walking at night? Even wearing white clothing isn't good enough if you get hit by a car speeding down a dark road (as illustrated by some great scenes of crash dummies getting hit by cars a la UCLA). Solution - strips of reflective materials on your coat, umbrella, shoe heels, pants cuffs, etc.

Dead Birds, Reel 3 (1965) Robert Gardner
There is the perpetual stack of films next to the couch (something I'm always meaning to move to film shelves, but new films come in and keep replenishing stack). Todd jokingly comments about the three reels of Dead Birds and that we should watch reel 3. So I put on Reel 3 and warn audience "You asked for it..." Yikes! Reel 3 starts with the ritual of a New Guinea boy's funeral - where a pig is slaughtered and the boy's body is burned in a pyre. We learn that the boy had been killed by an enemy tribe and about the main tribe's eventual retaliation. A pretty powerful film that won a bunch of awards back in the day.

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