Southern Highlanders documents the traditions, folk song, work, and environment of the Appalachian mountain people living in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. An educational video that illuminates all aspects of early Appalachian life, this film also contains great shots of the Smoky Mountains. The history of this poor but hard working people is shown here, with footage of women doing laundry and men farming the land. Some of the best moments come when mountain people are participating in traditional folk music, singing and dancing. Appalachian people created some of the best American folk music. Scenes of housework and farming are made even more interesting by the fact that every backdrop is the beautiful tableau of the Smoky Mountains, rich in color, but it's tinged by the sadness of poverty. Chock full of Appalachian mountain facts, Southern Highlanders is a part of Tennessee and North Carolina history.
Up in Smoke is a comedic skewering of the tobacco industry. “The Boss” is the head of the Humbar tobacco cigarette company who goes ballistic when his profits stop climbing or anyone is able to stop smoking. He sends his marketing team out to blitz the American public with dishonest messages about tobacco in order to encourage more people to take up the deadly habit, not providing honest facts about smoking. In particular, the marketers are told to get everyone to smoke: men, women, and children (this is a very early film to address teen smoking). The greedy executive's son, an athlete and an all-around good guy, comes to the office to see his dad and gets Shanghai’d by the marketing executives who want to make him a selling point. Dad sees the error of his ways and gets a newfound respect for the value of human lives and the harmful effects of smoking with a little help from his goody-two-shoes son. Up in Smoke was made by Brigham Young University to dramatize the evils of smoking, which it does, but unintentionally provides big laughs and entertainment with kooky dialogue and cartoonish characters. The history of cigarette smoking and side effects has never been as enjoyable as in this anti-smoking movie.
This is one of the more well-made industry films that touts big business as the key to American prosperity, freedom, and social development. In the most high-flown rhetoric possible, the narrator explains how the southern textile industry was creating enlightened industrial progress, "The race to compete has led -- as it inevitably must -- to better mills, better methods, better men, and eventually to a better way of life!" There is a montage of factory shots showing how various types of cloth are made, but the interesting part of this movie is afterwards when we see the mill town itself, replete with happy white workers and their families. We see the town surrounding the mill, "The production of this mill does not stop with cloth. Perhaps its most important product is this (we're shown a suburban street with houses), the comfortable American home. A place and an atmosphere a man can earn for his family and for his future." The picnic, the company tennis courts, and the comfortable working environment are all promoted as the “new way” of American industry, a way where the worker was valued and protected instead of abused and exploited. This is a superb vintage film that divulges the landscape of the textile industry in postwar America.
This RCA-produced film tells the short history of television from the perspective held in 1956, which was itself an early point in the TV’s history. After a detailed explanation of how TVs work and what the components look like, the film goes on to talk about how TV design is now moving toward reducing the size and cost of components and improving picture quality. We get to see many “TV firsts,” including footage of the first president on TV, President Roosevelt opening the NY World’s Fair, the King and Queen of England’s visit, and the 1940 Republican Convention in Philadelphia. David Sarnoff narrates the film and appears as an interviewer, asking Vladimir Zworykin about TV technology at RCA. The last third of the film is in color, and it talks about how color television works, then goes to a listing of NBC broadcast shows, including “Ding Dong School.” Given that this is such a collection of precious early television, this film is tough to top when it comes to exploring television history.
Listen closely to the narrator in this 1941 film, and you will learn a load of information about the invention of the television. A great informational video, Magic in the Air will teach you the basics of this cinematic novelty, from its basic functions to different techniques directors use to get the best shot. With the emergence of such a discovery, people all over the country were able to enjoy a football game from the comfort of their favorite armchair! Magic in the Air tells of the birth of television in a way everyone can understand.
Making of a Shooter is a great film that demonstrates how much attitudes about gun safety and culture have changed since the 1940s. Young Jimmy wants a gun, but has to learn the basics of how to hunt, shoot, and safely carry a gun before he can go out hunting. This film discusses basic safety tips like remembering to unload your gun when you break for lunch. Jimmy eventually kills a duck with his 22 rifle and is so thrilled he wants a bigger gun so that he can hunt big game. Several famous riflemen also appear briefly in the film, including Thurman Randle, Dick Shaughnessy, Ned Lilly and Fred Armstrong. The emphasis on safety in this film is offset by the freewheeling lack of parental supervision - making this an interesting piece of firearms history.
Television Tomorrow is a grand historical video that illuminates television broadcasting history and early television history. The film was made to inform the public about the growing television industry and possibility for returning World War 2 veterans finding television jobs as well. While examining the future of the television industry, the video talks about early television development and design, showing all the old equipment used in the NBC studios, including pictures of early televisions, and more. The glimpse of the history of NBC is particularly rare and interesting. The film also makes some prescient observations about the future of television. Television Tomorrow was made to describe the future of TV in America, but now it's an amazing relic that reveals the history of broadcasting in an accurate and fun way.
In Our Hands is an anti-communist four-part series that discusses the birth of the American way of life, how we could lose it, and how we must make sure we don’t lose it. In part one, a couple and their baby are magically dropped down into a wilderness with no tools, in order to show how lost Americans would be without the privately owned means (tools) of production. The Lincoln Memorial, our founding fathers, and God, are invoked in this patriotic paean to capitalism. In part two, the films shows how even the simplest things in the American household, like Mom’s frying pan, are made by industries. It explains the freedoms Americans have thanks to capitalism. Scenes of iron industry, pan-manufacturing, farming, and more are shown. In part three, the film introduces a complex dramatization of how Americans could “lose what we have.” Two middle class couples are shown watching a political debate on TV featuring a fat, slimy communist-type candidate and a thin, scrappy, free-market candidate. Each makes the arguments for or against Big Government. The communist-type promises "full employment and full security" "We're already on our way,” he says, “We've partly socialized incomes. We're going ahead and socialize property, too!" "But what price freedom?" cries the good candidate. "You can have full employment and full security -- in a penitentiary! Government can't control everything without controlling me!" Tom, Mary, and their friends are seduced by the prospects of full employment and a “master plan” for the country. They vote for the evil candidate, and the free-market economy gives way to the parent state. A horrific scene ensues where Tom and Mary are informed by a cheeky relocation driver that their house is being given to two other families and they’re being transported to a new state and a new job. They argue in vain, as the evil party member that oversees their relocation says, “You voted for it!” As they are driven away with the few valuables they’ve been allowed to retain, the driver tells them that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen with religion, but that they’d better “button their lip” about that kind of stuff. In the final part, the film presents a vague plan for “protecting our natural resources” and continuing to participate in a democratic government with a free-market economy. The whole series presents the forces for government regulation of industry, labor unions, and foreign socialist regimes as a dangerous, real, and imminent threat to the American way of life. According to the film, Big Government meant a complete loss of individual freedom and wealth, and it uses every scare tactic, generalization, and stereotype possible to drive the point home.
Today, suburbs are a ubiquitous part of the American landscape - but back in 1954 the idea of a middle class suburb was new and startling. This film advertises the merits of a suburban lifestyle by exploring and describing Doylestown, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There are many interesting scenes of landmarks, people going about their daily lives, businesses, and more. The overall themes of urban decay and the birth of suburbia are well represented and fleshed out.
The Challenge of Ideas is an amazing vintage film that features John Wayne, Edward R. Murrow, Helen Hayes, Frank McGee, and Lowell Thomas all making separate speeches defending the American way of life and capitalism or denouncing the Soviet Union. The journalist hero Murrow sits behind his desk, smoking, while images of the military roll by. John Wayne sits in a director’s chair, smoking and talking about how Americans appreciate “beauty” while images of female wrestlers, beauty queens, and women on the beach are shown. All of the narration is aimed at promoting the idea that God was on America's side and the Commies are a bunch of thugs who want to rule the country someday. The film captures various patriotic images throughout each speech, including footage of the Liberty Bell, folks square dancing, factory assembly lines, schools, and the Statue of Liberty. There are also many scenes from the Soviet Union, including Moscow, Joseph Stalin, Khrushchev, and tanks in Red Square. This is a superb 1960's film with unparalleled cultural icons.
This film takes an extensive and absorbing look at the history, growth, production, and distribution of California prunes. Starting with the immigration of Frenchman Louis Pellier, who brought the first cuttings of French prune trees to California, the film tells about how the prune industry was launched, using actors with narration instead of dialogue. Included in the film is an overview of growing and harvesting, processing, and packaging, with shots of Sunsweet workers wearing vintage uniforms while working in the plant. The prune growers then demonstrate how to turn the humble prune into many different dishes. Most interestingly prune cake and prune pie! A fun film that captures the history of prunes and California.
This X-Ray history and education film is informative and engaging for lovers of science. The film begins by touching upon the invention of X-Rays. The discovery of the X-Ray by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895 was a unique one that was not fully understood or capitalized on until years later. X-Rays are unique in that the rays can’t be seen but its effects can be made visible. The recording of these X-rays onto film is known as radiography. Spectacular footage of bones moving behind X-rays (without any radiation protection!) are shown in all their glory. This great discovery has led to man advancements in both medicine and industry improving not only the lives of patients and doctors but of businessmen as well, and this film documents it all beautifully.
Powerful, bombastic, and often graphic, The Crime of Korea is a bracing brief documentary of the Korean War. Most unusually, the Koreans are painted as tragic victims while accepted racism of the time is casually used (such as the term “jap”). This humanizing of the Koreans served one purpose: to make the communists look like monsters. The film is icily narrated by a hardened war correspondent who is outraged at the injustice to the Koreans, their beautiful cities, and their culture. Gorgeous shots of Korea, specifically Seoul, are peppered with images of brutality. A wonderfully produced film, The Crime of Korea is an enriching historical experience.
This is a promotional film from RCA that introduces their significant product innovation: new stereophonic sound and recording technology! For 1957, this was exciting new technology for sound enthusiasts and home stereo equipment junkies. In fact, the film focuses on several such audiophiles who are willing to let their social relationships erode completely in favor of better sound! The film also has a nifty gimmick: you're supposed to play music on your new RCA stereo system at certain points in the film to appreciate the fine sound quality! Groovy record players and high fidelity home speakers are on display. Vintage home stereo speakers fill every home. Hi-fi is no longer new, to understate things, but this funky old video reveals how sound technology has evolved over the years.
As desegregation was reaching a fever pitch in the 1950's, the progressive New York City board of Education implemented a progressive and (most importantly) aggressive integration policy. The heroic efforts of the administrators, parents, and teachers are captured in this significant historical documentary, Let Us Break Bread Together. A fascinating look at the history of racism in America, prejudice in schools and the value of school integration takes center stage. With racial prejudice and hatred threatening to explode at any moment, the NYC Board of Education was one of the few in the nation to step up to the challenge of safely and justly ending discrimination by integration in the New York City public Schools. Let Us Break Bread Together is a top notch historical document in the history of discrimination in American and the difficulty and triumph of school integration.
In light of today’s volatile energy climate, Desert Venture becomes a highly ironic and intensely interesting classic video about American oil production in the Middle East. A propaganda film through and through, Desert Venture seeks to lionize the American investors who came to Saudia Arabia and invested in energy at great risk. The rosy face that the narrator puts on the relationships built between Americans and “suspicious, strange people” is powerful. This film is also one of the greatest collections of footage of 1950’s oil factories and plants in the Middle East. Stirring scenes of Saudi and American workers toiling in the heat for energy is captivating. For it’s outrageously positive tone and jingoistic viewpoint, as well as precious footage, Desert Venture is of crucial viewing importance today more than ever.
"This is not a Hollywood production as can be readily seen." Thus begins one of the most infamous and shocking safety films ever made. Featuring graphic footage of real fatal car accidents, Signal 30 is the notoriously horrific gore-fest that was shown to unsuspecting high schoolers and driver's ed students for decades to "inform" them about teen car accidents. Presented by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the film promotes automobile safety and safe driving by documenting the carnage of car road traffic accidents. Using sick graphic video clips as scare tactics, the extremely upsetting nature of this film urges drivers to be responsible, as explained by a deadpan and creepy narrator. Most often the victims who are shown are dead or horribly injured, and almost any viewer is scared straight. Signal 30 is a historically significant video that has often been imitated in popular culture. Of all the driver's ed videos, this film is the real thing; and it lives up to its reputation for making a stomach turn.