1943 War Department film, “Welcome to Britain”

February 8, 2014

Reader and veteran librarian Judy Crook sent a Tweet alerting us to a recent release from the U.S. National Archives, “A Welcome to Britain, 1943.”

It’s a fascinating little film, if 38 minutes is still “little.”

Yes, that’s Burgess Meredith playing the soldier. I haven’t confirmed whether he was actually enlisted, but he often played soldiers or people at war — in 1945, playing war reporter Ernie Pyle, for example. In the 1950s, the House Committee on Unamerican Activities (HUAC) claimed Meredith had consorted too closely with communists, and he was blacklisted for years including a seven-year drought of work.

When this film was made, the Soviet Union was an ally of Britain and the United States.  How times change.

This is a training film made by the War Department (later renamed “Defense Department”), to acquaint U.S. soldiers with what they would confront in Britain.  Why did soldiers need such training?  You can guess, perhaps.   258

Teachers, can you use this film in history class?  Is the discussion on civil rights, about 20 minutes at 25:30 in, instructive in the history of the time?

From the National Archives’s description on YouTube:

Published on Feb 5, 2014

Creator(s): Department of Defense.~. Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. (1954 – ) (Most Recent)

Series : Information and Education Films, compiled 1943 – 1969
Record Group 330: Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 – 2008

Access Restriction(s): Unrestricted
Use Restriction(s): Restricted – Possibly
Note: Some or all of this material may be restricted by copyright or other intellectual property restrictions.

Scope & Content: This film introduced soldiers to Britain and told them what to expect, how to behave and how not to behave in Britain during World War II. It includes footage of military cameramen and black soldiers.

Contact(s): National Archives at College Park – Motion Pictures (RD-DC-M), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001
Phone: [omitted here]

National Archives Identifier: 7460305
Local Identifier: 330-IEF-7

http://research.archives.gov/descript…

What else hides in the vaults of the Archives?


Lost history: Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977

August 19, 2013

1958 Publicity photo of Groucho Marx from the television program You Bet Your Life.  NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer:  Elmer Holloway

1958 Publicity photo of Groucho Marx from the television program You Bet Your Life. NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer: Elmer Holloway

36 years ago?  Grouch Marx died on August 19, 1977? 

cropped version of Image:Grouchoicon.jpg - &qu...

The man became an icon, though too few know the great history behind the icon. “Self-made caricature of Groucho Marx” Wikipedia image

 

That means that not only have your high school history students probably never seen much, or anything, of Groucho Marx and his comic genius; it means their parents don’t know him, either.

What a great tragedy.

Groucho Marx brought genius to American comedy films, to radio, and then to television.  His genius was of a sort that does not age, but remains fresh to audiences of today — get a group of teenagers to view Duck Soup or A Day at the Races and you’ll find them laughing heartily at even some of Marx’s more cerebral jokes.  It is symbolic that the films that brought writer Norman Cousins to laughter, and a lack of pain, were Marx Brothers movies (in the day when one had to rent a projector to show the film, long before VCR).  Cousins went on to a grand second career talking about hope in healing, starting with the book, Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit.  I recommend these films to anyone seriously injured or ill, or recovering.  We got VHS, and then DVD copies of several of the films when our kids were ill, with great effect.

Groucho Marx should be in the pantheon of great Americans, of the 20th century, if not all time, studied by children in high school, for history and for literature purposes.

Groucho’s been gone for 36 years, and we are much poorer for his passing.

More:

Groucho grills Ray Bradbury and a woman named Leticia on You Bet Your Life in a 1955 episode:

English: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.” ― Groucho Marx (Wikipedia image)


Typewriter of the moment: Stanley Kubrick’s

June 6, 2013

Stanley Kubrick's typewriter on Instagram, from sophireaptress.

Stanley Kubrick’s typewriter used in “The Shining” on Instagram, from sophireaptress.

It’s an Adler, but Instagram isn’t built for details, you know?

The typewriter is probably on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Kubrick Exhibit, which closes June 30, 2013 (hurry!).

More:


What would a real man do? Samantha Stendal’s brilliant, short video

March 26, 2013

From Samantha Stendal, a film student at the University of Oregon, a brilliant film reaction to the Steubenville, Ohio rape and trials.

Samantha Stendal, filmmaker at the University of Oregon

Samantha Stendal, University of Oregon

More:


New York in time-lapse — a teaser

March 14, 2013

Another time-lapse film by Samuel Orr, this one on a city, “New York Day.”

I said it is a teaser.  Orr wants to do a longer film, but needs some financial backing to get it done.

Details here:

Please go to the Kickstarter project page and help support a longer version of this short film

kickstarter.com/projects/motionkicker/new-york-year

I shot this film over 4 trips to NYC 2011-2012. The time-lapse sequences you see here were made (mostly) from hundreds of thousands of still images. A Canon 7D and T3i were the main cameras, with backup from a couple of older Nikon Coolpix 5000 point and shooters. A few clips are sped-up video.

Many thanks to the generosity of the musician/composer who allowed his great celtic track “Sawjig” to be used;
Ben Rusch aka Jasmine Brunch
benrusch.com
jasminebrunch.com

For more info on this and other projects;
motionkicker.com
twitter.com/motionkicker

i


Brilliant film: A Forest Year, from Motionkicker

March 14, 2013

Cousin Amanda Holland called my attention to this on Facebook.  Time lapse photography and a forest — heavenly to me.

More details from Motionkicker,  Samuel Orr:

help support my new time-lapse project at kickstarter!
kickstarter.com/projects/motionkicker/new-york-year

A Forest Year was made from 40,000 still images taken from my front window over 15 months, and were blended into the film.

Find out more about how it was made at motionkicker.com

Special thanks to Johnny_RIpper for letting me use his music.
soundcloud.com/johnny_ripper

Tip of the old scrub brush to Amanda Holland and the National Forest Foundation.

More:


Ingenious anti-personnel mine finder

December 19, 2012

Brilliant little film about a wonderfully creative guy, a war refugee, who developed a wind-powered device that can find and detonate anti-personnel mines.  It’s part of the GE-sponsored FOCUS/FORWARD film contest:

Description and credits at Vimeo’s site:

MINE KAFON is a Finalist in the $200,000 FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Competition and is in the running to become the $100,000 Grand Prize Winner. It could also be named an Audience Favorite if it’s among the ten that receives the most votes. If you love it, vote for it. Click on the VOTE button in the top right corner of the video player. Note that voting may not be available on all mobile platforms, and browser cookies must be enabled to vote.

A short documentary portrait on a designer who has created a low cost solution to landmine clearance.

Check out his website:  massoudhassani.com
or for other films by us at Ardent Film Trust:  ardentfilm.org

DIRECTOR
Callum Cooper
DOP
Michael Latham
CAMERA
Michael Latham
Mahmud Hassani
Callum Cooper
SLOW MOTION CAMERA
Ed Edwards
EDITOR
Anna Meller
COLOR GRADER
Chris Teeder
SOUND MIXER AND DESIGNER
Sandy Milne
TITLE DESIGNER
Ray O’Meara
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Bobby Kapur
PRODUCERS
Alicia Brown
Michael Latham
Callum Cooper
THANKS
Lucie Kalmar
Slowmo High Speed
Optimism Films
The RNLA explosive ordnance disposal service
Copyright Ardent Film Trust 2012


Typewriter of the moment: An old one, manual or electric (yours?)

October 25, 2012

Typewriter

A manual, Royal typewriter (Photo by mikeymckay)

It’s enough to make an old typewriter guy drive to Arizona, for more than the air (with a stop in Albuquerque at the Owl Cafe for an Owl burger, of course).

Polymath reporter Bill Geist from CBS News reported this piece for Sunday Morning, in February, featuring Mesa Typewriter Exchange in Arizona, and more:

Where is that movie on typewriters“The Typewriter in the 21st Century.”  Geist was poaching on their material a bit, wasn’t he?

Bring on the movie!

More:


Box office slaps Hollywood: ‘Don’t talk jive smack against teachers’

October 3, 2012

Teacher and education blogs were all atwitter — and Twitter was all ablog, I suppose you could say — about the opening this past weekend of the movie “Won’t Back Down.”

“Parent trigger” laws bubble up in discussion a lot recently — laws that allow a group of parents to petition a school district, or the state, and say that they want to take over a local school.  Conservatives and other anti-teacher groups promote these laws as a means of education reform.  Generally, in the few cases in which a school is taken over by parents, teachers and local administrators are fired, and the school operates much like a charter school.

“Won’t Back Down” professes to be “based on a true story.”  I am reminded that both “Psycho” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” also professed to be based on a true story — the same story, in fact.  I’ve written about this before – based on a true story, except not in Texas, no chainsaw, no massacre, nor was there a hotel and a shower.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is more carefully based on a true story — there is a Mississippi River; or The Bald Soprano — there are bald people, and there are sopranos.  But I digress.

The film has a cast of some great star power — Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Holly Hunter.  It was produced by the documentary group that also produced Al Gore‘s “Inconvenient Truth,” and then moved to the popular but wildly polemical “Waiting for Superman,” another hit on teachers.  They should have stopped with that one, instead of raising the ante (raising the “anti?”).

Audiences don’t like films that cast teachers as villains, it would appear.

Stephanie Simon of Reuters wrote:

(Reuters) – Education reform film “Won’t Back Down” opened Friday to terrible reviews – and high hopes from activists who expect the movie to inspire parents everywhere to demand big changes in public schools.

The drama stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a spirited mother who teams up with a passionate teacher to seize control of their failing neighborhood school, over the opposition of a self-serving teachers union.

Reviewers called it trite and dull, but education reformers on both the left and right have hailed the film as a potential game-changer that could aid their fight to weaken teachers’ unions and inject more competition into public education.

Yahoo!’s Movie Talk got to the point:

Even an Oscar-caliber leading cast couldn’t save this one. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s latest film “Won’t Back Down,” also starring Viola Davis and Holly Hunter, set the record this past weekend for the worst opening of a film that appeared in more than 2,500 theaters, making a mere $2.6 million [via Box Office Mojo].

Yes, all three of these former Oscar nominees — Hunter having won a golden statuette in 1994 for “The Piano” — now have a pretty bad blemish on their resume. But they aren’t to blame, say industry watchers, who are reacting to the film with a resounding face palm. “‘Won’t Back Down’ wore the dunce cap last weekend, mostly because its marketing was almost non-existent,” says Jeff Bock, box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations.

“Record for the worst opening?”  Ouch.

Back to the “based on a true story” issue:  We may understand why the screenwriter and director of the first Texas Chainsaw movie, Tobe Hooper took the liberties he did to add elements to the story.  He knew the original story of a disturbed man in Wisconsin who was jailed for corpse mutilation.  He knew that was the foundation for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”  How to update it, to make the story bankable from the box office?  Move it to Texas, add a chainsaw with all its terrifying whine, and add in the standard teenager murder story elements; maybe put a mask on the villain/evil beast, to make it more terrifying — there is great terror in being pursued by nameless, faceless folk as Orwell showed us.  Both Hitchcock and Hooper fully understood that the real, dull story, wasn’t something people would pay to sit through while eating grossly-overpriced popcorn.

“Won’t Back Down” suffered from sticking too close to the facts.  If you’re going to claim the antagonist is psycho, you have to give them a big butcher’s knife or a chainsaw, and a costume, in order to make really, really scary.

Teachers just are not that scary in real life.  Teachers are not the villains, in real life.

More (from various viewpoints):


Paramount logo inspiration: Mt. Ben Lomond, in Utah

July 1, 2012

This is mostly an encore post — a tribute to Paramount Pictures in the company’s centennial year.

There’s a geography exercise and social studies bell ringer in this somewhere [links added]:

Ben Lomond Peak towers above Ogden. The mountain is believed to have inspired the Paramount movie logo, below, in use since 1914. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

From the Deseret News: “Ben Lomond Peak towers above Ogden (Utah). The mountain is believed to have inspired the Paramount movie logo, below, in use since 1914. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

What is the most “paramount” mountain in Utah?

How about Timpanogos Peak, Kings Peak, Mount Nebo, Mount Olympus. Lone Peak or Twin Peaks?

It’s none of the above because one of Hollywood’s most familiar images — the famous Paramount Pictures logo — was inspired by Weber County’s Ben Lomond Peak.

As such, Ben Lomond — not even the highest summit in Weber County — may be the most famous mountain in the Beehive State.

The peak is given credit for prompting creation of the majestic but fictional mountain in the popular Paramount design, based on two histories of the motion-picture company.

According to Leslie Halliwell’s “Mountain of Dreams,” a biography of Paramount, founder William Hodkinson grew up in Ogden and the logo was “a memory of childhood in his home state of Utah.”

Compare it to the Paramount Pictures logo now:

Paramount Pictures logo

Paramount Pictures logo

Teachers may want to hustle over to the Deseret News site to capture the story for classroom use — the online version includes a short set of slides of a hike to the top of the peak (it’s a climb most reasonably healthy people can make in a day – “reasonably healthy” to include acclimated to the altitude).

What other geographic features have become commercial logos? How do images of geography affect our culture?

For my money, I still like Timpanogos better, even if the Osmonds did use it.

Mt. Ben Lomond, in Utah, from a Flickr file

This image of Mt. Ben Lomond looks more like the Paramount logo, some might say.

More, Related Articles:


Time Piece, Jim Henson on life and its brevity, circa 1965

May 30, 2012

Dr. Bumsted found this in her searches, on MySpace of all places, and passed it along for its use of typewriters . . .

Heck, it’s a nice little piece of art all on its own.  It’s fun to watch Jim Henson without any muppets.  It’s eerie, too — Henson argues in film that time is rather precious, and life often too short.  His time was precious, and his life was cut way too short, especially for fans of Kermit and The Muppet Show

This description comes from the MySpace site of “Charlie,” where Dr. Bumsted found it.

Dislocation in time, time signatures, time as a philosophical concept, and slavery to time are some of the themes touched upon in this nine-minute, experimental film, which was written, directed, and produced by Jim Henson-and starred Jim Henson! Screened for the first time at the Museum of Modern Art in May of 1965, Time Piece enjoyed an eighteen-month run at one Manhattan movie theater and was nominated for an Academy Award for outstanding short subject.


Time Piece Video by Charlie – Myspace Video, posted with vodpod

The full film can be obtained from iTunes, now – in better fidelity, I’d imagine.

From Jim Henson’s 1966 Academy Award nominated short film.  Henson, as the writer/producer/director/star, created the experimental short about the effect of time keeping on us all.  The full video is available on iTunes here:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/time-piece/id283450519?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Scriptless!

Disney artists Joe Lanzisero and Tim Kirk drew...

Disney artists Joe Lanzisero and Tim Kirk drew this tribute of Mickey Mouse consoling Kermit the Frog, which appeared in the Summer 1990 issue of WD Eye, Walt Disney Imagineering’s employee magazine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Time lapse photos: NYC, before 1975

May 22, 2012

Why does time-lapse photography fascinate me so?  It reveals changes over time we too often miss, or don’t stop to appreciate.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1975 film, set to music recently released.  Watch closely, you’ll see the shadows of the World Trade Center passing over New York City.

Described at Youtube:

A music video for the gorgeous track “Exercise #3 (Building) by CFCF (Mike Silver). Song is from his upcoming EP titled “Exercises,” which arrives on April 24th via Paper Bag Records.

Footage is from the 1975 short film “Organism,” by Hilary Harris.

For more on CFCF:

http://paperbagrecords.com/artists/cfcf
http://soundcloud.com/cfcf
https://www.facebook.com/pages/CFCF/196418801490

edited by https://www.facebook.com/daviddeanburkhart

More:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Slacktivist.


Film in a high school class: Atticus Finch as a role model

April 30, 2012

This year is the 50th anniversary of the release of the film “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In the American Film Institute‘s polling to find the greatest hero in the movies, Atticus Finch finished first.  Interesting that a class from Arlington, Virginia’s Washington-Lee High School found one of the best venues anywhere to watch the film to study it.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD ranks 25th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list of greatest American films, and AFI named Atticus Finch the greatest hero in this history of American film when it announced its AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list in 2003. AFI also recognized the film for its #1 ranking of Best Courtroom Dramas in AFI’s 10 Top 10 list and its #2 ranking on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers America’s Most Inspiring Films list, just behind IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The film, which premiered in Los Angeles on Christmas day in 1962 and opened wide in 1963, was directed by Robert Mulligan and produced by Alan J. Pakula.  [Screenplay was by the great Texas playwright Horton Foote.]

From the White House YouTube site:

President Obama hosted a film screening of To Kill a Mockingbird in the Family Theater at The White House to commemorate its 50th anniversary with guests including local students from Washington-Lee High School, Mary Badham Wilt, the actress who played Scout, and Veronique Peck, widow of Gregory Peck who played Atticus Finch. The President also acknowledged the American Film Institute for their commitment to the fine arts and NBC Universal and USA Network for their efforts to commemorate this important film.

What venues could one use in Dallas?  Check with the Sixth Floor Museum, to see if their 7th floor facility is available.  Check to see if there is a room available at the Earl Cabell Federal Building, or the George L. Allen Court building.  The old, renovated Texas Theater on Jefferson Boulevard might cut a deal.  Surely there is a room big enough at the Belo Mansion, the home of the Dallas Bar Association — if it’s not totally booked up for other events.  With the Horton Foote connection, perhaps the Wyly Theater could find a rehearsal room to throw up a screen. Odds are pretty good you could get an attorney to come talk law and civil rights at any of those locations.

How could a teacher sneak a viewing of this movie into the curriculum?  Isn’t it tragic that we have to sneak in great classics?

More: 


Oscar winner, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lesmore”

March 6, 2012

When Bugs Bunny earned the sobriquet, “Oscar-winning rabbit,” there was a good chance that a good cartoon nominated for an Academy Award would be shown at a movie in your neighborhood.  In the past two decades, it has grated on me that so many of the Oscar-nominated short subjects, documentaries and cartoons could not be seen.

If you watched the Oscar broadcast, you may have been tantalized as I was by the view of the “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lesmore,” which ended up winning the award for Best Animated Short Film

Wonder of wonders:  The makers of the piece put it up on YouTube, so you and I can see it.  God bless “Conceptual designer Brandon Oldenburg and children’s book author/illustrator William Joyce” for doing that, and may they have much more success with similar projects, even and especially out of their New Orleans, hurricane-wracked studio.

For your viewing pleasure:

See also:


Women to match our mountains: Women at Work, Parts 1 and 2

February 12, 2012

I do love the tops of mountains, and I wish I could climb them.  Fortunately, there are cameras, people who know how to use them, and people who know how to edit film to tell a story, and put us all in awe.

Plus, living among us are people brave enough and skilled enough to get to the tops of those mountains, people who make the filming possible and worthwhile.

“Women at Work” is a film of a climb by “the Cirque Ladies 2010,” described by Emily Stifler:

In summer 2010, Lorna Illingworth, Madaleine Sorkin and I spent 25 days in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Northwest Territories, Canada. Our goal was to free climb the entire 1963 Original Route on the sheer 2000′ Southeast Face of Proboscis, and grants from the American Alpine Club encouraged us to document the adventure. The result: Women at Work (VI 5.12 R).

Cirque of the Unclimbables?  Okay, I’ll watch.

Part 1

Part 2

More: 

Half the fun is getting there:  Camp in shelters made by Mother Nature:

Camping under large boulder in Fairy Meadows, Cirque of the Unclimbables - SummitPost.org

Camping under large boulder in Fairy Meadows, Cirque of the Unclimbables - SummitPost.org - "Nice roof," one wag commented

Map of Cirque of the Unclimbables, from Nahanni.com

Map of Cirque of the Unclimbables, from Nahanni.com; those dots are not settlements

 

Map to Cirque of the Unbclimbables and area, from BlackFeather.com, a tour company

Map to Cirque of the Unbclimbables and area, from BlackFeather.com, a tour company

 


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