Pine-Thomas Productions, the producers of Mr. Reckless, was a small filmmaking company that was able to produce classic and popular movies on shoestring budgets. They were so successful with so little that they were quickly snatched up by Paramount and made into an auxiliary studio, where their skill at creating entertaining films would continue. Here in Mr. Reckless, the streak continues with a fun and goofy daredevil adventure. Mr. Reckless is played by William Eythe, a hardworking oil digger whose girl gets stolen while he’s off on the job. When he returns home to find her with an older man, he decides to pull off a series of stunts at the oil field to win her back! Boisterously ridiculous, Mr. Reckless lives up to its name as Eythe tempts death in wonderfully creative scenes.
An oddly ironic film given the current problems of food shortages and petroleum based farming, Man on the Land is a 1950’s film that champions industrialized farming as the key to breaking free from the bonds of hunger and famine. Originally produced for school children (though now it’s irony and perspective are valuable to all), this animated cartoon follows people’s search for a stable food supply throughout history. The film serves as a powerful example of the unilateral viewpoint of the 50s (and often today) that more power and industry could be applied to food production. Man on the Land is important, entertaining, and fun.
Felling Forest Giants is an early silent film that documents the 1920's logging industry in the Pacific Northwest, from pictures of the felling of giant redwoods to views of the saw mills in the east. Some interesting and rare scenes from the lives of loggers are also shown, including oxen shoeing that helps the oxen transport the cut logs, and participating in a log-rolling competition on a river. Scenes of the mill work including forestry supplies and forestry tools in order to process the giant trees are explored. This film shows the timber industry in its historical form including some scenes of mistreatment of animals that would shock modern audiences. Felling Forest Giants is an eye opening exposure to logging industry history and the lives over loggers and timber workers.
The Information Machine is a vintage animated film produced by IBM to show off at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. The cartoon succinctly and entertainingly describes the history of information management from cavemen to the modern computer in the 1950’s. The different applications of the big computers used by the military and business are explained, all within the context of computers contributing to the positive development of human society.
This 1952 Encyclopedia Britannica film gives an interesting overview of the kind of tests scientists of plant cell biology conducted at that time regarding radiation’s effect on plant and animal biology. This was during the birth of nuclear science, and so of course all the possible applications were being explored, sometimes with experiments that today are considered horrible. The tests themselves are explained and the radiation safety measures protecting the experimenters is touched upon as well. The effects of exposure to radiation are the chief topics for discussion. Antiquated footage of researchers handling nuclear charged rods and infusing corn with nuclear radiation are not to be missed! The positive applications of radiation are also explored, mainly in the area of cancer research. Medical radiation therapy was one of the chief areas of research that the government was promoting in order to make nuclear power and energy seem more benevolent than atomic bombs. Cancer treatment radiation therapy persists today, of course, but many of the other applications dreamed up before have fallen by the wayside as too dangerous. This film is a nice chapter in the history of science and scientific discovery.
An unscrupulous private investigator with a penchant for blackmail is found dead in a car and the leading suspect is Carole Landis, the daughter of a mayoral candidate. With the election just weeks away, the press, here depicted as shadowy and ruthless, will do anything to get a juicy story. They muscle the medical officer into switching the corpse with another body when it becomes clear that Carole couldn’t have been the murderer. Detective Sam Carson must find a way to clean up the mess and save the girl he’s beginning to fall for.
A powerful piece of vintage film noir, Club Paradise is the tragic tale of women in the 40s who want to live life in the fast lane. Played by the beautiful Constance Worth, Isabel Jewell, and Wanda McKay, these three Hollywood bombshells take a trip through the seedy side of life: criminality, exploitation, gambling, and womanizers. Shot with stark and harsh 40s noir style, Club Paradise is nothing short of a downward spiral into Hell. But amongst the femme fatales and booze hound drunks there is much to be learned about morality and cultural fears from this piercing period in American history. Club Paradise is a fantastic collaboration of stylized sexy women and heartbreaking tragedy as the ladies crash against the sharp points of bleak nightlife.
Infinitely charming, His Double Life sparkles with free flowing performances from Roland Young and Academy Award recipient Lillian Gish. The story is of a brilliant but socially awkward artist who’s overcome with the fame that’s been thrust upon him. By a great confluence of circumstances, Young’s trusted aid dies tragically but his body is mistaken for Young himself. Seizing the moment, Young assumes the identity of his fallen friend! But along with the identity, Young continues a romantic correspondence with a lady (Gish) who has never met him! Sweet, enchanting, and enriching, His Double Life will bewitch viewers with style and grace that sweeps across the screen.
The silent film comic genius Buster Keaton is at it again in My Wife’s Relations, a riotous short comedy from the silent era. Keaton is one of the most influential comedic actors in history, pioneering slapstick and physical sight gags that had never before been imagined. Here Keaton stars as a man who accidentally marries a large and unkempt Polish woman who doesn’t speak any English! Keaton fears for his life, and upon returning to her family’s home he finds himself beset by his oversized wife and her four mammoth brothers. This splendid setup allows Keaton to go to work with his innovative jokes and pranks. My Wife’s Relations is another classic Keaton film that stands up so well to the test of time.
A is for Atom, an award winning short film, promotes the peacetime applications of atomic energy. The animated residents of Element Town illustrate nuclear fission – the process of an atom splitting that produces byproducts, including massive amounts of nuclear energy. The film is a cutesy plug for all the advantages of nuclear power while answering the question "what is an atom?" Known for its destruction in the past, atomic energy is represented as a harmless figure, which, with “man’s wisdom, on his firmness in the use of that power,” can be controlled and purposed for better things. Nuclear medicine is one of the stressed uses. Still an effective teaching resource today, A is for Atom is a clever depiction of the history of the atom that will entertain children and adults with its 1950's style presentation of what nuclear fission reactions could mean for the future of America.
A glorious old beer film! Made by the Pabst Brewing Company, this film was used to train their managers and distributors how to sell more beer. The animation is top-quality for the time period, and the acting is campy and delightfully awful. They first show the different types of advertising that the Pabst Company was flooding the market with, including billboards, magazine ads, and more. Most excellently, goofy shots of warehouses bursting with boxes of Pabst are thrown in as well. Fans of beer, Pabst, and history will love this vintage movie.
Atomic Power at Shippingport is a fascinating short documentary about the world’s first large scale nuclear power facility dedicated to peaceful applications. Not only is the film an example of peacetime nuclear power, but a detailed look at the technological and scientific details of nuclear reactors. A walk through documentation of actual 1950’s large scale power plant equipment is interspersed amongst scientists hard at work. This well assembled collection amounts to a fantastic piece of scientific and technological history. Atomic Power at Shippingport is a wonderful historic educational resource and just plain interesting.
You are the Switchman educates people on the warning signs of cancer and urges them to consult a medical professional at any sign of danger. Two parallel stories unfold, all about a man who finds a sore on his lip that won’t seem to heal. In one story, he refuses to go to the doctor until it is too late. In the other, the victim consults a physician early on, which allows him to happily smoke a pipe with his wife and son, cured of his cancer. Various treatments for cancer are discussed, including x-rays, radium, and surgery, but the film makes the point that early detection is the best way to survive cancer. The film gives the survival rates for certain types of cancer, including breast, skin, and uterine cancer. The title of the film reveals its overall message: like a railroad worker who switches train tracks, individuals must decide whether they’re going to take the track towards early prevention and health, or inaction and death. A wonderful vintage film on the powerful threat that is cancer, this video's message remains important today.
Dick Tracy is one of the most successful serial detectives in American pop culture history. Here in Dick Tracy, Detective, the gumshoe with the two-way wristwatch is wonderfully portrayed by Morgan Conway in an incredibly entertaining film adaptation. Shot in a style evocative of dark and sinful 40s film noir, the picture brings to life the highly stylized world invented by cartoonist Chester Gould. The overly ugly caricature villains, classically modeled love interest, and hard boiled mystery is all here. Fortunately, the casting is superb and the direction deft, making the translation onto the silver screen seamless. Dick Tracy, Detective is a splendiferous ride through dark and exciting mystery.
Likely the first Hollywood speaking film to star Asian Americans, Phantom of Chinatown is a clever murder mystery that includes a look at early 20th century Asian American culture. Keye Luke plays a young sleuth takes over the detective business from his aging teacher, and his first case is a real conundrum: a famous archeologist is mysteriously poisoned and leaves behind no clues except the words “Eternal Fire.” As Luke gets to know the archeologist’s beautiful secretary, he learns that Eternal Fire refers to an ancient scroll that contains valuable information. Luke must find the scroll, and find the killers, and not get killed himself! Phantom of Chinatown is great drama that unfolds with skill and enigma, leaving the viewer guessing to the end.
Twenty percent of all applicants for selective service during World War 2 are not allowed because they have bad teeth. It is the most cited reason for rejection. If these young men in the prime of their health have such bad teeth, what can be expected of the rest of Americans? This amazing film, About Faces, seeks to answer this question with some of the most bizarre scenes ever filmed. Poor oral hygiene abounds! First the audience is asked to rub their tongue around their teeth (actual film footage of an audience in the 40's follows). Weird dentists insist on the usual tooth brushing to prevent cavities, but that's really not what the movie is about. Since this World War 2 video was made by the US Public Health Service, one would think the focus would be on good oral habits. But instead, it's about tooth decay, bad teeth, crooked teeth, yellow teeth, and remarkable shots of old bums with mouths that look like picket fences! The film is dryly narrated by Lowell Thomas, whose famous voice has graced most of the classic government films. Thomas gets to deliver some phenomenally kitschy lines, like, "with those teeth, he won't even get to first base!" and insisting on how Americans focusing on dental work and stopping tooth decay will help beat Hitler! One of the finest movies during World War 2, About Faces is by far the most entertaining look at the history of dentistry available.
This hilarious 1943 film attempts to teach the public about poison gas attacks on American soil. While discussing poison gas effects on people and World War 2 propaganda, the film promotes the idea that panic and fear are more dangerous than the gas itself (wait, which causes death?) and that preparation is the key to survival. The film explains that preparing for a military attack on America is easy! Common household items, such as baking soda and bleach, are discussed as remedies for exposure. Reminiscent of similarly ineffective survival tips for nuclear attacks, this film suggest taking off gas infected clothing, immediately! Funny chemical warfare "facts." Civil defense has never been so ridiculous. WW2 gas attacks were not as prevalent as in WW1, but a growing fear of chemical warfare is represented by this soothing government propaganda survival guide.
A quaint Depression era timepiece, Crashing Through Danger illuminates the lives of three electrical linemen as they struggle through piteously unsafe working conditions, as well as romance. Soundly made by a veteran cast, the story is of three hard working industrial men who get to be like brothers. Their camaraderie is splintered, however, when the fatally gorgeous Sally Blane walks into their lives, eliciting amorous intentions from each of them! Blane, one of Hollywood’s classic beauties, interrupts the humble life that the men have become so accustomed to. This explosive situation combines with dangerous calamity in the workplace, leading to a rousing finish. Crashing Through Danger is an exploration of life in the Great Depression for the common man.