Monday, July 14, 2008

Films on 7/13/08, Part 1

Pamela Wong's Birthday for Grandma (1977) Lifestyle Production/ Encyclopedia Britannica
Depicts a special event in the life of a Chinese-American family while showing various aspects of life in Chicago's Chinatown. Shown in honor of Miles' birthday, its one of my favorite films in my collection.

Lonedale Operator (1911) D.W. Griffith
A drama in which a telegraph operator wards off payroll thieves with a wrench resembling a gun while her engineer-sweetheart races a train to her rescue. Below is a music video on YouTube made up of clips from the film (why the hell this film isn't on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet in a complete form is beyond me)

Symphonie Diagonale (1924) Viking Eggeling
Features hieroglyphic forms moving along an invisible diagonal in a work by Viking Eggeling. Nifty animation that reminded me of early neon signs on Times Square.

Hammy Learns To Fish (1965)
Uses live animals to tell the story of a hamster and a rat who go fishing. This was another episode from the Tales of the Riverbank series that used to be shown on Canadian TV. The hamster and the rat decide to take the rat's motorboat down the river to go fishing. Lots of Heart of Darkness jokes here.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Films on 7/6/08

Rhythmus 21 (1921) Hans Richter
An early abstract film that orchestrates squares and rectangles of the film and screen. Not the most interesting film to our jaded, Flash-addled eyes, but this was almost 90 years ago...

Great Train Robbery (1903) Edwin S Porter
Bandits tie up the station master, stop the train, rob the mail car, take the passenger's valuables and escape. The station master's daughter frees her father, alerts a group at a dance who then chase and overtake the robbers. This was a 16mm from Blackhawk and featured the hand-tinting. While the pacing was slower than what we are used to, it was fascinating to watch and the idea that somebody painted each 35mm frame was mind-boggling.

I Am (1971) Wombat Films
Explores factors involved in the development of a positive self-image, the pain of rejection, the poignancy of near-misses in developing relationships and the satisfaction of recognition and response. Wow, the main kid reflects on how his dad isn't really a hero or famous - just a regular guy.

School Libraries In Action (1960) NC Film Board
Illustrates major areas of a school library program-planning for library use, guiding reading, teaching library skills, supplying instructional materials and guiding reference work. Most of the film was shot at Sherwood-Bates School in Raleigh on Oberlin Rd near Glenwood Ave. All of the kids are lily white, so we took notice when there were scenes with African-American teens - obviously shot at a segregated school somewhere in Wake County, we guess.

Look What's Going Around (1973) Churchill Films
Emphasizes the ease of treatment, symptoms and spread of venereal disease. Includes a discussion by a group of young people to present attitudes to help dispel the sense of shame. Shows how to use a condom - a rarity for VD films aimed at teens.

Un Chien Andalou
(1928) Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí
Yeah, we all saw this in college or if you were lucky, high school. It doesn't hurt to see this film every once and a while. This particular print was silent, which had us all questioning how authentic the sound version is (wikipedia tells us it was added with Buñuel's approval).

Help Woodsy Spread the News (1977) U S Dept Of Agriculture
Features the anti-pollution owl Woodsy ("Give a hoot! Don't pollute!") describing the ways in which the quality of the environment can be preserved by stopping pollution. Wow! For those of us that remember Woodsy Owl, this version of Woodsy had a little person in very confining owl costume. His partner is a flamboyant, rainbow-suspendered, African-American troubadour who plays a guitar and helps the children sing a calypso style song Help Woodsy Spread the Word. At one point, Woodsy looks to be playing the guitar even though the instrument is as big as he is, he's clutching the neck and just barely faking strumming. (I'll try to get this clip online - it's quite a ludicrous image).

An odd side note, the US Forest Service has updated Woodsy's motto ("Lend a hand- care for the land") and his image, and, in a very strange revisionist directive, ordered that his former costume be destroyed:

Destroying Old Woodsy Owl Costumes Guidelines

1. Incinerate the complete costume with the oversight of an official USDA Forest Service law enforcement officer*.

2. The entire Woodsy Owl costume including each of the separate pieces is to be destroyed beyond recognition.

* If you do not have access to an official USDA Forest Service law enforcement representative, arrangements will be made for dealing with your costume by contacting the USDA-FS Washington Office at:

Woodsy Owl C/o National Symbols Program P. O. Box 96090 Washington, D. C 20090-6090

The Apes (1976) Films/West
Looks at physical characteristics, habits and behavior of the gibbon, chimpanzee, orangutan and gorilla. Shows how each ape is adapted to his physical environment and why their environments are endangered. Some beautiful primate footage here...

Ballet Mechanique (1924) Ferdinand Leger
Another wonderful avant-garde film with lots of visual kaleidoscopic play.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Birthday, USA!

As much as we bellyache about this country and all the horrible things our government has done, I still love this place. Especially because of things like this film below, made for the Bicentennial by Vincent Collins for the United States Information Agency - the propaganda department of our government. Government grant money went to a psychedelic animator to create a beautifully trippy tribute to our country.