Sunday, May 25, 2008

Films on 5/25/08

Down and Out (1971) National Safety Council/Journal Films
Depicts falling as one of the most common causes of injury in a shop situation, and examines the common hazards which cause people to lose their balance, such as over-reaching, taking short cuts, failure to check equipment and not looking where one is going. This is one of my top ten favorite films. It has a great drum soundtrack and the guy just keeps falling over and over and over...

Portrait of a Vandal (1978) Centron Tells the true story of three young boys who vandalize a classmate's home. Shows the effect on the boys and their parents. Wow, they totally wreck the little girl's room. It seems like everybody enjoyed trashing the house.

Collective Behavior - Civil Disturbances - Part I - Evolution of Disorder and Crowd Psychological Factors (1975) U.S. Army.
This film was made for military police and soldiers on what causes civil disturbances and riots. A fairly enlightened film considering it was made by and for the Establishment. Lots of footage of demonstrations and rioting during America's late 1960s. The still on the left was from a Yippie rally and is a quote from Ed Saunders (The Fugs). I got this film on Ebay, but ultimately I'm looking for another film - Civil Disturbances - Principles of Control (1968).

From Rugs To Riches (1960) Thomas Craven/Caprolan
Made for carpet salesmen, madcap Jonathan Winters shills Caprolan acrylic carpeting with a variety of characters. Some of the bits work and others fall flat - like another internal sales film that audiences hate (but I love) Freeze-In. The color is bad on the film, but I'll try and get it online soon.

Ins and Outs of the Diaphragm (1976) Crommie And Crommie
Follows a woman who no longer wishes to use birth control pills as she visits a nurse-practitioner to be fitted for a diaphragm. Explains, through the course of the visit and the questions of the woman, what the diaphragm is, how it works and how it is inserted and removed. Nothing left to the imagination with this film. We see a cervix and how the diaphragm is inserted and removed from the vagina(!). Films that explicitly show how to use birth control are rare (mostly Army films made for men) - so this is quite a film.

But If You Live... (1982) Kemper
Focuses on high school students' attitudes towards driving and drinking. Features interviews with teens who survived DWI accidents but were left permanently disabled. Provides another perspective through a parent who lost a teenage daughter. I let folks pick a film based on titles. They picked this film over Johnny Boy, Silent Upstairs and Companions. Besides the wretched 1980s clothes and hair, this film was a downer - probably shown to high school kids the week before prom.

Family Talks about Sex (1977) Wexler Film Productions, Inc
Stresses frank family discussion about sex. Suggests that if parents frame their statements about sex around their own beliefs and that if the parent/child relationship is founded on love, respect and trust, then the child will be able to make responsible decisions about sex. A pretty progressive film but not as visionary as Parent to Child About Sex (1967) which addresses much of the same topics. This film did share a common thread that we found in Portrait of a Vandal and But If You Live... - little girl's bedrooms with canopy beds and funky headboards.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Testy Testy

In honor of our nation's dedication to End of Grade testing, we presented an evening of odd films about tests, testing and various quizzes.

Your Study Skills - Taking Tests (1977) Coronet
Struggling test-taking students write to newspaper columnist Betty Bright, asking specific questions about taking tests and getting useful answers. Cheerful Betty responds with workable suggestions to help them in estimating their test time, sticking to the point, following instructions, and dealing with multiple choice, essay, or true-false questions. It has a great beginning soundtrack and the advice isn't so bad.

You Bet Your Life (circa 1948) Crawley Films
Sponsored by Molson's Beer, this Canadian film is set up like a quiz show. Our Emcee is Stan Francis (you may know him as the voice of Santa Claus in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer)who appears in a cap and gown - reminiscent of some of the early TV game shows. We learn of Dorian and see over twenty examples of why he is a reckless driver. Then a police officer politely tells us that auto accidents are on the rise and why alcohol and gasoline don't mix.

Giving The Rorschach Test - Klopfer Method (1951) Central New York University Film Unit
Presents a brief outline of the Klopfer method of presenting the Rorschach test with a single subject. In one inkblot, our nervously timid test subject thinks he sees a bat or Halloween mask or a naked woman with her arms up in praise. Another inkblot is interpreted as two Scottie dogs fighting with blood dripping from their paws. Finally, the subject describes an inkblot as two waiters bowing to a red butterfly. Oh and there are some monkeys too...

Color TV Test Film #2 (1965) Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

A test film for film labs to ensure that TV color camera equipment is correctly calibrated. Unfortunately, thanks to Kodak's Eastmancolor film stock, the colors are slowing fading to red. Still there are some great shots of glamorous models walking through once vividly colored sets. The best shot is of a housewife in the kitchen with a big tray of beef.

The Handtrap Test (1966) U.S. Steel / Matt Farrell
Zeros in on finger and hand safety, showing viewers some very valuable tips on how to protect their fingers and hands. Studies the causes of hand injuries. An audience participation film to guide industrial employees in the prevention of hand and finger injuries. Alan Edwards hosts this and provides some comic relief - especially when he reveals that there's a small steel trap in his desk drawer.

Comparative Tests On A Human And A Chimpanzee Infant Of Approximately The Same Age, Part 2 (1932) Pennsylvania State Univ. Psych. Cinema Register

Compares the reactions of a normal human infant between the ages of 10 and 14.5 months to psychological tests, and the responses of a chimpanzee companion, age 7.5 to 12 months, to the same tests. Brings out the effects of different rates of growth and learning abilities and illustrates the capacity of the animal to outdo the child in many tests. Includes hand preference, startle reaction time, delayed reaction, cap-on-head, detour, tickle, ice and rotation test. I commented earlier about this film and every time I watch this it gets better. It is quite a crowd pleaser as well.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Films on 5/4/08

VD: A New Focus (1971) American Educational Films
Hosted by James Brolin (who was playing the hip doctor on Marcus Welby, MD). Presents an entire picture of the VD problem, giving medical facts, and probing the myths and attitudes of young people concerning VD that often prevent prompt treatment. The obligatory white coated doctor is Stephen Sacks, MD (who looks to still be practicing in the Los Angeles area) whose eyes slowly scan the cue cards as he reads his lines. The best part of this film is the dramatic sequences where the teens confront the possibility of having VD. Like most VD films from this time period, there is no mention of prevention (condoms).

Insight: Just Before Eve (1978) Paulist Productions
Presents a revised version of the Biblical story of creation. Shows how God answers Adam's prayer for another human being after providing a checker-playing angel who is too perfect and a dog which cannot understand him. (Stars Martin Sheen as Adam, Flip Wilson as God, Henry Proach as Angel Josh and very briefly appearance of Darleen Carr as Eve). I knew about the Paulist Insight series from other films in my collection but I saw an excellent overview of the films by Mark Quigley & Dan Einstein of UCLA at the 2008 Orphans Film Symposium at NYU. I immediately started scouring Ebay for films from the collection. This film looked to be good, I mean, Flip "The Devil Made Me Do It" Wilson as God? My mind reeled at the possibilities, but, alas, the film isn't so great. The simplistic dialog ruined it and Flip was just reading lines. Todd Morman commented that it was like an Sunday School class play. I'm on the lookout for "Clowns of Freedom" where Martin Sheen plays an imprisoned clown.

They (1972) Phoenix Films
Wow, this film was a mess! A little boy and a grabby hippie teen talk about the two types of people "We" and "They". "They" are the enemies who live on the other side of the river. Occasionally "We" and "They" battle - throwing spears at each other, taking the lives of children (shades of "Dead Birds"). Then there are the "Outs" who live on an island and are often washed away by floods. Eventually we all figured out what the film was about (that we are all part of the "We" group if we accept the "Theys".) but it was so muddled with symbolic gestures and pointless, annoying dialog.

Blues Maker (1969) Christian Garrison/Univ of Mississippi
Shows Mississippi blues singer, "Mississippi" Fred McDowell, singing and talking about his blues. Includes scenes of the area which helped to shape his country blues. Everybody was blown away by this documentary short which mostly had Fred playing and singing with shots of living in rural, cotton-dependent Mississippi.

Data Processing (1981) Gallaudet College
Captioned for the deaf. Explains data processing and shows range of jobs from Data Entry Operator to Programmer. Features three hearing-impaired people successfully building careers in this field. This is the second film that I have about hiring the hearing impaired to do computer work - during a time when computers were big and loud.

Inside-Out: How Do You Show (1972) Agency for Instructional Television
Presents three boys who express or withhold their feelings about various things that happened to them in the course of an afternoon. Points out the many ways that feelings can be expressed. In one day, this group of boys horse around in a rickety school playground, get mugged by older boys, break a bunch of bottles, hit a homerun during baseball practice, run scared through a cemetery, fight each other while wearing trash cans on their heads and sneak chocolate cake from under Mom's nose. Ah, to be a kid again in the 1970s!