Redwood Saga examines the history of the logging industry as it pertains to the beautiful California redwood forest. The film includes breathtaking footage of these lush landscapes in the 1940s, where trees spanned upwards 350 feet in the air. But this is not a nature appreciation film, because the next thing seen after the beautiful redwood forest footage is the measuring and preproduction process used to transform the beautiful trees into wood products! Axe wielding workers take pride in scaffolding the giant trees and cutting them down. The many steps of the lumber production process are documented, from chopping to moving to manufacturing the end product: specialty wood products like furniture for American homes. Included is tons of interesting information about the logging industry: images of forestry equipment and forestry supplies, such as booms, donkey engines, and flatcars are filmed, and the millponds where the lumber is stored is shown in great detail. As the narrator says, “The Redwood trees of California are probably the oldest living trees,” making this film a valuable historical documentation of logging in the redwood forest, an industry now clouded with environmental concern.
This 1940 film discusses how to avoid the spread of disease and ill-health by taking better care of the body, keeping water supplies clean, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. This film does use typical scare tactics to get people to think about their personal care habits. It also mentions sewage disposal, vaccines, and staying away from people who are sick as ways to promote health.
Produced by the oldest Jewish Service Organization in the world, An American Girl is a thought provoking and touching film that aims to expose 1950's antisemitism and racial discrimination in small town America. Cultural tensions were still swirling around Jewish people in America after the Holocaust, and this film aims to expose prejudice stereotypes and the roots of anti semitism. An adolescent small town girl decides to try an experiment to find out how prevalent anti-Semitism is in her small town. She pretends to be Jewish herself and keeps a diary outlining the attacks and prejudice that she suffers during her experiment. Later, she reads the diary out loud at a PTA meeting to bring the issue out in the open. An emotionally poignant film that dramatically documents the history of anti semitism, An American Girl is a stirring commentary that reveals the often hidden, subversive nature of racism in America.
This quaint historical film dramatizes the dramatic exploration of the American West by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they set out to map a route to the Pacific Ocean from the Mississippi River. Thanks to strong performances by the Lewis and Clark portrayers, the film works extremely well and is highly entertaining. The story starts with Lewis and Clark receiving their mission from President Thomas Jefferson, and starting out from the Mississippi River. Throughout the Lewis and Clark expedition, they encounter many obstacles. But eventually their trail leads them to North Dakota where they meet French trader Toussaint Charbonneau, whose wife is the famed Native American Sacajawea. They contract with Toussaint and his Sacajawea for guidance to the Pacific Coast. While traveling, Sacajawea's abuse at the hands of Toussaint is touched upon, but brushed off. This and other racist and prejudiced attitudes are ever present in the film. In fact, the film is a good record of the history of racism and racial stereotypes in the 1950's. The Lewis and Clark journey continues to the Rockies, and along the Columbia River. This fun historical film is packed with Lewis and Clark facts, as well as details about the Lewis and Clark map.
A captivating snapshot of the changing history of food production and availability, Let's Talk Turkey is a top notch vintage food industry film. While once considered just a meal for holidays or special occasions (prior to 1960), with the advent of modern farming and production methods, turkey can now be an every day food. Gone are the hours of tedious labor incurred by going to the butcher and dressing the turkey yourself, so the film promises. Now, a fresh frozen turkey can be bought in your grocer’s frozen food section, ready for preparation. This incredible advance in food preparation made life easier for homemakers, and it's easy to forget that the universally and consistently available food supply has not always been a part of American life.
This 1950's social etiquette film overtly encourages good citizenship and proper manners to young school children, as well as unintentionally representing Cold War culture. The narrator of the film introduces Harvey as “the happiest boy in school.” While he walks through the school yard, he waves and smiles at the other children, and they all happily wave back as though he is royalty. And why shouldn't he be treated royally, he's a productive member of society (by being an utter conformist)! The film teaches the importance neatness and cleanliness, simply helping others, and being conscientious about making even new kids feel welcome, all examples of good citizenship. American family values and ethical behavior are stressed as vital to teaching teens good manners. Only slightly touched upon by the film are examples of bad manners: little Tommy is always late, which is poor etiquette! While the content of the film remains utterly positive, the underpinnings of all of the "citizenship" and "togetherness" used in this film are really social conformity. The 1950's were about searching for perfection in society and the wholesome overtones of this Cold War culture film exemplify that heightened push for American individual conformity.
Girls Beware is ostensibly about girls protecting themselves from untrustworthy men, but its underlying message is that girls are fragile victims who have to guard their honor or pay the penalties (i.e. incarceration by the Juvenile Authority). There is a certain validity to the idea that girls are vulnerable, and this film has some common sense tips for girls who are babysitting, dating, and in other situations. The last part of the film concentrates on the dangers of girls dating older boys. It implies that girls who do this can expect to find themselves in “trouble” with nowhere to turn. Interesting for its examination of antiquated gender roles and social stigmas, Girls Beware is a top notch vintage movie experience.
In this 1950’s instructional film, the social conformity of gender roles in society are explicitly laid down through one of the more imaginative Cinderella versions ever produced. In Lawrence, Kansas, young Cindy, a tom-girl who plays basketball and fishes all day, wonders why she is not invited to her friend’s party like all her other classmates. Since this sort of nonconformist behavior was frowned upon in the fifties, Cindy goes to sleep and has a most peculiar dream. Cinderella's fairy godmother appears to her, telling her that they are indeed going to a party! The kind woman spirits Cindy to a dream party, and teaches her how to politely play games she doesn’t like (and pretend she does like them), how to let boys win (even though she could win herself), and how to leave on time. Cindy learns quickly, and begins to anticipate the fairy godmother’s lessons. The fairy godmother realizes her job is done, since Cindy is now adapted to traditional gender roles, and decides she is no longer needed, thus disappearing. Cindy then wakes to find her mother bedside, telling her that she really did get an invitation to the party, but that her little sister Mary had just forgotten to give it to her. An astonishing example of the binding pressure of social conformity in the 50s, Cindy Goes to a Party is an important historical document in any analysis of the history of gender roles.
Academy Award winning Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas headlines My Dear Secretary, his first appearance in a comedy, and a romantic one at that. Douglas is at his best as a womanizing playboy who’s supposed to be an author. When he selects the sensuous coed Laraine Day to be his secretary, he’s not too interested in her job qualifications. Douglas proceeds after Day in a way that would make this picture a sexual harassment courtroom drama if it was filmed today. Instead, My Dear Secretary remains a lighthearted and giggly good time. The supporting cast, with veterans like Helen Walker and Keenan Wynn, spice up the film’s already fantastic leading duo to produce uninterrupted laughs and drama. Also a great opportunity to see Kirk Douglas at the start of a grand career!
This Chevrolet sponsored driving education video advocates keeping an “aerial” view of the road in mind at all times as the best way to drive defensively. Using the story of Cinderella, Chevrolet replaces the carriage and horses with a dependable and safe Chevy car (now a vintage Chevrolet). The focus of the film, however, is the constant watching of nearby cars in order to remain a safe distance away from them and avoid an accident and promote safe highway driving. At the beginning of the film, fighter planes are shown in tight formations (early aviation footage), and the narrator comments that drivers too must constantly be aware of how close other cars are, just like the pilots are always aware of the position of other planes. To illustrate this point, miniatures of roads, cars, and drivers are manipulated on a tabletop in order to give the audience the aerial view of many common dangerous situations, such as merging and changing lanes, that might lead to a bad car accident. Safe driving habits are important and this driving video discourages aggressive driving and all forms of unsafe driving.
Are You Ready For Marriage? It is a question many people should ask themselves when on the brink of engagement. In this 1950s Christian film, the two young adults, Sue and Larry, want to be married and go in search of answers from a marriage counselor at their church. After some strange advice by today's standards (sex is glossed over with amusing code words), this youthful couple realizes there is still a lot to learn from each other before becoming husband and wife. This video takes a realistic approach in discussing marriage and understanding just how practical people were in the mid 20th century.
Dick Tracy, the yellow trench coat garbed detective born on comic strips, became an American pop culture icon. Here in Dick Tracy’s Dilemma, Tracy is expertly brought to the big screen with a strong performance from leading man Ralph Byrd and director John Rawlins. The mystery for Tracy to solve beings with a simple robbery that, once uncovered, leads to much more sinister plots. That’s where the film really picks up. Here are just a few of the classic Dick Tracy villains fantastically brought to life on screen: The Claw, Sightless, and Longshot Lillie. These trademark caricature villains contrast so well with Tracy’s stolid demeanor that it’s nonstop entertainment. Dick Tracy’s Dilemma has all the elements of mystery, humor, and action for a rousing good time.
This controversial film attempts to defend the highly unconstitutional actions of the United States War Relocation Authority during World War II. Milton S. Eisenhower, director of the WRA, narrates the story of how 100,000 Japanese people, two thirds of them American citizens, were forced into internment camps in order to prevent espionage during the war. Falsely, the film presents the Japanese as willing and happy to sacrifice for the war effort, "Japanese themselves cheerfully handled the enormous paperwork involved.” The forcible auctioning of their personal property, including houses, businesses, family valuables, and vehicles, is whitewashed as well, with the narrator saying relocation “often involved financial sacrifice for the evacuees," who "cooperated wholeheartedly.” Instead of camps, the film refers to “assembly centers” located in race tracks, fair grounds, and other public areas. The camps are shown in some detail, including the medical facilities, Americanization classes, cafeteria, irrigation projects, and field work in sugar beet farms. In all, this is a fascinating, but sad look at a dark time in our nation’s history.
Stop Driving Us Crazy! is a strange animated film, sponsored by the General Board of Temperence of the Methodist Church, that equates reckless driving with sin in a rather unique storyline. The Christian video introduces Rusty, an alien from Mars (who looks somewhat like a cross between an insect and a car) who comes down to spy on Earthlings. The little Martian is shocked to find how disrespectfully drivers treat each other on the road (and the viewer is treated to great 1940's vintage and classic cars). After showing many driving errors, the film gives safe driving tips and techniques. The animation is quintessentially 1950’s and the soundtrack to this funny and dated film, which seems to be a jazz combo of some sort, only adds to its quirkiness. Of all the car and driving educational videos, Stop Driving Us Crazy! is one of the strangest. But the lessons on vehicle safety are fun and the 1950's cartoon characters are precious. Lessons on safe driving have never been more entertaining.
Viva campy jungle safari! Queen of the Amazons is a delightfully absurd romp through the African wilderness. When a woman’s fiancé turns up missing, she tracks him down only to find that he has gone into the jungle and been missing for months! Hiring a skilled guide, they journey deep into the bush through countless dangers: like stock footage of tigers! The hilarity continues when she finds her fiancé captured by white skinned “Amazons” in Africa who speak English like Tarzan. Her beau has been enslaved by the Amazon Queen, and refuses to give him up. In the forties, Queen of the Amazon was a thrilling look at a distant part of the globe. Now it’s still tons of fun for different reasons, and still more than worth watching for a good time in the jungle.
Anyone At All! is a fantastic scary safety film from the 1940s. After getting through some car accident statistics, the film really gets going. A bunch of teenagers are having a surprise party for their beloved friend Larry. But as the kids keep waiting and waiting (while demonstrating reckless behavior!), Larry never shows because he's been in a fatal car accident. Larry's friends go on a crusade for teen driving accidents safety, responsible driving, and general goodness. Included are great scenes of post World War II American goody goodies working for the school paper and organizing cheesy parades, all in the name of stopping bad car accidents. But the film takes a turn after this, forgetting Larry's positive friends and their activities, and going more with scare tactics. Next the movie focuses on people who've become handicapped from car accident injury. People in wheelchairs, people who have been blinded, all are present and absolutely ranting about the dangers of automobiles and auto safety. After the community pulls together for driving safety and to prevent road traffic accidents, Anyone At All! closes with the words of the unfortunately injured, culminating in a haunting view of a shadowy, empty wheelchair. Anyone At All! is the perfect vintage safety film, with goofy fun thanks to dated behavior, plus a strong and still currently relevant message about auto safety and safe driving tips.
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.
This absorbing vintage film explores the issue of cheating in school. John, a Student Council representative, is having trouble with algebra. He knows he has to maintain his good grades for his social status, so he gets his girlfriend Mary to allow him to copy from her answers on a test. Later, after he’s been caught, his fellow students come down on him hard, eventually punishing him by kicking him off the Student Council. What makes this film different from others of its ilk is the Film Noir quality that the film employs to heighten tension and fear. The characteristics of film noir are ever present. The beginning is quite dark and scary, with a young boy's loneliness, with many different close ups of a phone, faces, and disembodied voices. And of course, shadows and sharp angles are focused on with the stark black and white picture exploding off the screen. As this was part of the Discussion Problems in Group Living series, this film focuses not on what the adults do to John, but on what his peers think of his actions, and whether they will offer peer support or more peer pressure. This series of films was made specifically to stimulate discussion among young audiences who viewed it, instead of making rigid pronouncements about what is right or wrong. Cheating on tests in school is an ever growing issue and it's fascinating to see how cheating was perceived in the 1950's.