A May Day Blast From The Past: A Good Days Work: Selling

Happy International Workers Day, a.k.a. May Day!

Today, we celebrate May Day with this short film from 1974.  A Good Days Work: Selling is all about how exciting it is to work in a fish market.  I guess these film were made so that children in school could mentally prepare for the careers that were ahead of them and, indeed, I imagine a few kids in 1974 probably grew up to work in a New England fish market.

Anyway, I find this short film to be kind of moody and …. I don’t know, weird.  The grainy images and the voyeuristic children are, to be honest, kind of unsettling.  There’s a lot of ennui to be found in this film.  Though it’s not the film’s fault, it’s hard to watch anything that was filmed in New England without expecting some sort of weird Stephen King thing to start happening.  But, at the same time, it also taught children about fish markets so I guess that’s a good thing.

Anyway, enjoy!

A Blast From The Past: Big Man On Campus (dir by Sid Davis)

The 1963 educational short film, Big Man on Campus, tells the story of Jerry, a 13 year-old with the attitude of a 16 year-old.

Jerry thought he was the coolest kid at his middle school.  He thought throwing a milk carton was no big deal.  He thought not studying for his classes wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  He thought all of his classmates would like him if he rode his bicycle into traffic.  He thought starting fights was no biggie.  He thought everyone wanted to listen to another chorus of Grease Lightning.  He thought Sandy was just a summer fling and that having the Ramones play at the local high school wouldn’t be a big deal.  Jerry thought a lot of things.

Jerry was wrong.

Fortunately, the Vice Principal was there to set Jerry straight.  That’s right, the vice principal.  Jerry may thing he’s a big man on campus but he’s not even important enough to rate a meeting with the principal.  Instead, he has to make due with the guy who teaches Chemistry.  It takes a while for the vice principal to step out of his office but when he does, it’s obvious that the vice principal, with his navy haricut and his eyeglasses, isn’t going to stand for any nonconformity.  Most afternoons, the vice principal would be busy tracking down and tearing up flyers for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.  Instead, on this day in November of 1963, the vice principal is having to discipline Jerry.  Not only has Jerry caused a disruption at the school but he’s also allowed for the proliferation of pro-Castro propaganda.  Can Jerry be saved or is he destined to become a pinball wizard with his own holiday camp?

You probably already know the answer.  This educational film comes to us from Sid Davis, whose films were best known for their use of an extremely judgmental and rather dramatic narrator.  The Sid Davis narrators were the ones who wouldn’t only explain what had happened but who would also offer up questions like, “You never thought one little action could ruin your life and the lives of so many others, did you?”  That narrator is heard in Big Man on Campus but we also hear the voice of Jerry, trying to convince himself that his actions were no big deal and that everyone is totally overreacting.

Of course, deep down, Jerry knows that he’s no good.  He knows that his mother is setting him up for a life of crime by arguing that “boys will be boys.”  He knows that he’s destined to end up at juvenile hall and, after that, a life of unemployment.  He knows all of this but he needs the help of a seriously annoyed adult to help him truly understand it.  He needs the hard-earned, war-scarred, and apparently nearsighted wisdom of the vice principal.

Can Jerry be saved or is he destined to end up working a prop comic in Wichita Falls?  Watch and find out!

A Blast From The Past: I Like Bikes But…. (dir by Bob Deaton, Loren Dolezal, Dennis Hess, Ernest Johnson, Oscar Rojas, Robert Rose, and Trudy Travis)

How many directors does it take to put together a 13-minute film about bicycles?

Apparently, it takes seven!  At least that’s the amount that received credit for 1978’s I Like Bikes But….  I guess some of them did the live action shots and some of them did the animation and maybe one of them was in the recording booth with the narrator but still, seven seems like a lot.  But I guess it takes a lot of manpower to make people like cyclists.

Anyway, this film was meant to encourage people to not only ride bicycles but to also observe all of the safety rules that surround riding bikes in public.  A bicycle named Ike is convinced that he can make you love overlook the slow-moving nuisance of the public cyclist if he just keep repeating, “I like bikes over and over again….”  That may have worked for Eisenhower but he won a war so everyone already liked him.  Whereas bicyclists are usually the people you dread getting stuck behind in traffic.

I have to admit that, after watching this short film, I found myself hating bikes even more than I did before.  But I do appreciate Ike’s enthusiasm.  He tried.

A Blast From The Past: Censorship: A Question of Judgment

The year is 1963 and Nancy is the editor of the high school newspaper.  She’s upset that so many students are settling their disagreements through fighting.  She wants to run a story about the fights and she wants to publish the pictures of the two students who were involved in the latest brawl.  When her faculty advisor points out that a high school newspaper is supposed to be positive and that publishing the pictures of the combatants would be an invasion of their privacy, Nancy argues that she has a responsibility as a journalist….


Anyway …. what would you do?

This film is from 1963 and it seems to be a bit biased in Nancy’s favor.  Of course, Nancy should publicly shame any student caught fighting!  Myself, I have to disagree.  I’m reminded of the old but very true saying: “No one likes a snitch.”  Add to that, judging from the opening shots of this film, the entire school witnessed the fight so it’s not like Nancy is going to be telling her readership something that they didn’t already witness firsthand.  Seriously, what is Nancy’s problem?

I’m against censorship but I’m also against being a snitch.  Honestly, I think Nancy has gone a little power mad.

However, if you want to consider for this issue for yourself, here, from 1963, is Censorship: A Question of Judgment:

A Blast From The Past: Fictitious Anacin Commercial (dir by David Lynch)

Since today is David Lynch’s birthday, it only seems appropriate to share what may be the most obscure of David Lynch’s early short films.

From 1967, Fictitious Anacin Commercial is a one-minute short film and a commercial for a real product.  Jack Fisk, an early David Lynch collaborator who would later marry Sissy Spacek, plays a man in pain.  God shows up, holding some aspirin.  Suddenly, Jack Fisk is feeling a lot better.  However, the audience is a little bit disturbed because God seems kind of menacing.

That’s my interpretation, anyways!  David Lynch was 21 when he directed this film and it really is basically just a spoof of how commercials always act as if their product is the ultimate and only solution to whatever problem you’re having.  One gets the feeling that, for the most part, Lynch and Fisk were just amusing themselves.  And yet, because it is a Lynch film, there’s still a definitely unsettling vibe to it all.  The man with Anacin almost seems like he could be an inhabitant of the Black Lodge.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here is Fictitious Anacin Commercial!

A Blast From The Past: The Other Fellow’s Feelings (dir by Arthur H. Wolf)

Why is Judy crying in class?

She says it’s because Jack “won’t stop teasing me.”  Is Jack to blame or does Judy need to toughen up?  Should Jack’s classmates have said, “Lay off?”  Should Judy’s friends have tattled to the teacher?  Should Judy have teased Jack back?  What would you do?

This short film from 1951 considers all of those issues and yet, it’s hard not to feel that the ultimate message is that Judy needs to stop taking everything so personally.  Sorry, movie.  Sorry, judgmental narrator.  I disagree.  Myself, I think the skinny kid with the glasses should have followed through with his threat to beat Jack up.  Up until I was 12, I had a really severe stutter so I know what Judy was going through.  Fortunately, in my case, I also had three older sisters and a bunch of overprotective cousins that were always looking after me.  Judy doesn’t seem to have that type of support system.  To be honest, in most cases like this, I put the blame on the teachers.  Jack and Judy are sitting up at the front of the class so there’s really no excuse for no one noticing what was going on.

This short film is another one that feels like a Herk Harvey production but it was actually directed by Arthur Wolf.  My favorite shot is the entire class staring at the camera while the narrator asks, “What would you do?”  Seriously, someone’s in a lot of trouble once these kids come to a consensus on who is to blame.

From 1951, it’s time to consider …. The Other’s Fellow’s Feelings.

Blast From The Past: The Outsider (dir by Arthur Wolf)

The year was 1951 and Susie Jane was struggling to fit in at school.  While everyone else was planning dances and hanging out at the malt shop, Susie was standing off to the side, quietly.  Why was Susie Jane such an outsider?  Was it the fault of her peers or was it her fault for being such a nonconformist?

This educational short, from Young American Films, puts most of the blame on Susie.  Yes, the film suggests, her classmates could have made more of an effort to include her.  But Susie also should have made more of an effort to fit in and she shouldn’t have been so quick to assume that everyone was against her.  Susie might think that Marcy is only calling the house to taunt her but Marcy is actually calling because she feels guilty and obligated.  

The short film may feel like one of the films that Herk Harvey made before directing Carnival of Souls but this film was actually directed by Arthur Wolf.  The narrator, I have to say, is a bit of a jerk and spends the entire film talking down to Susie.  Susie’s having a hard enough time without having to put up with all of that!  That said, the film also takes a very 1950s approach to the issue of fitting in.  Susie’s an outside because she’s shy.  No consider is paid to the idea that maybe Susie just isn’t interested in doing the same thins as everyone else.

From 1951, here is The Outsider.

A Blast From The Past: Better Use Of Leisure Time

Well, it’s a new year.

That means that it’s time to start thinking about what you want to make of yourself this year.  What are you going to do?  What are you going to accomplish?  How are you going to make yourself proud of who you’ve become?

There’s a lot of movies coming out.  Maybe you’ll go to them.  Or maybe you’ll be the person who spends all of their time on twitter, tweeting about how scared you are of going back to the theaters.  Both options come with their risks and their rewards.

There’s a celebrity edition of Big Brother airing in February.  Maybe you’ll watch it.  Maybe you’ll blog about it, because you like getting paid more than your dislike the show.  Or maybe you’ll spend all of your time on twitter, talking about how much you hate reality TV.

2022 is an election year.  Maybe you’ll run for office.  Maybe you’ll volunteer to work for a campaign.  Maybe you’ll spend all of your time on twitter, tweeting about how people need to vote for your candidate.  Maybe you’ll come up with the hashtag that changes the course of the election!  Maybe you’ll hang out in the paring lot of Whataburger, waiting for Beto to toll by.

Or maybe….


You’re not going to do anything.

Let’s be honest, most of us are very lazy and we have absolutely no idea how lucky we are compared to people who lived just a few decades ago.  We take a lot of things for granted and we waste a lot of time doing nothing, precisely because we can do just about anything that we want.

(Of course, in my case, I’m have ADHD.  I spend a lot of time doing things but usually, I end up trying to do them all at once.  Reading a book and watching a TV at the same time is not difficult but when you also try to vacuum the living room while doing those other two things, it starts to get a little bit more difficult.  Still, my super power is ADHD and I’m thankful.)

Well, fear not!  A short film from Coronet Films has traveled all the way from 1950 to encourage you to make better use of your leisure time!  Why …. that’s even the name of the film!  Better Use of Your Leisure Time follows a good-for-nothing, spoiled teenager named Ken as he learns why spending all of your time moping is perhaps the worst thing that you can do.  With the help of a judgmental narrator and the ability to see alternative universes, Ken learns an important lesson.  There’s no hope with mope!  Ken discovers that some people actually have hobbies and spend their free time creating and learning and being a decent citizen.  It’s an important lesson and hopefully, it’s one that Ken will remember the next time that someone tells him that moping is no big deal.

Anyway, as far as Coronet Educational Films go, this one isn’t bad.  Ken is a bit of a loser but that’s to be expected of these type of films.  It’s very much a product of its era and, if nothing else, it stands as evidence that people wasted time even before the internet existed.  TAKE THAT, LUDDITES!

Watch, enjoy, and learn.  LEARN, GOSH DARN IT!

A Blast From The Past: Swing You Sinners (dir by Dave Fleischer)

The much-missed Gary Loggins loved Halloween and he loved the old, frequently cartoons from the 1930s.  He was a particular fan of the Fleischer Brothers so it only seems right that today, on Halloween, we should share one of those cartoons.  Here is 1930’s Swing You Sinners.

In this bizarre cartoon, a dog named Bimbo attempts to steal a chicken.  After the police chase him into a cemetery, Bimbo is confronted by ghosts, demons, and apparently death.  Shockingly, there is no escape offered in this film.  Abandon all hope!

I guess chicken theft was a really huge problem in 1930.

A Blast From The Past: Halloween Safety (dir by Herk Harvey)

Director Herk Harvey

Tomorrow, we will be sharing the classic film Carnival of Souls. That means that today, it’s for us to show our last Herk Harvey short film of the 2021 Horrorthon. And appropriately enough, it’s all about Halloween!

This short film was made in 1977, long after the release of Carnival of Souls. In it, safety tips are offered up to make sure that all the kids have a safe Halloween. Make sure you can see clearly, even if you’re wearing a mask. Don’t wear dark clothing. Grab a flashlight. Don’t trick or treat alone! Hey, it’s all good advice. And Herk Harvey seems like someone who knew a little something about having a good Halloween!

From 1977, here’s some lessons on Halloween Safety!