A Blast From The Past: Patriotism

Flag (Erin Nicole Bowman, 2010)

Today is Loyalty Day!

If you haven’t ever heard of Loyalty Day before … well, then you’re probably a subversive or something.  Loyalty Day has been a real holiday since 1955.  That was when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1st to be Loyalty Day.  (I’m going to guess that this was done largely to provide an alternative to International Workers Day or Communist New Year or whatever May Day was known as back then.)  The official statutory definition reads as follows:

(a) Designation.— May 1 is Loyalty Day.(b) Purpose.— Loyalty Day is a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.(c) Proclamation.— The President is requested to issue a proclamation—

(1) calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Loyalty Day; and
(2) inviting the people of the United States to observe Loyalty Day with appropriate ceremonies in schools and other suitable places.

So, in honor of Loyalty Day, here’s a short film from 1972.  It’s called Patriotism and it was apparently made to teach school children what it meant to be a patriot.  Apparently, it means working as a crossing guard and wearing a vaguely fascist-looking vest while doing so.  It also means keeping an eye out for weeds and trash in your neighborhood.  My favorite part of this film is when the kid spots the turned over garbage can and gets a look of disgust on his face.  You can just tell he’s thinking, “Those goddamn hippies.”

(For the record, that’s what I always think whenever I can’t find a pen at work.)

Personally, I agree that making a good neighborhood is the first step in making a good country so I definitely applaud the kids for taking the time to clean their neighborhood up.  Still, I have to wonder: where are the adults?  How many grown ups walked past the overturned trash can and just ignored it?  Perhaps all the adults in the neighborhood were so disillusioned by George McGovern dumping Tom Eagleton as his running mate that they just gave up on life.  Who knows?  1972 was apparently a pretty traumatic year for some people.  Myself, I just find it amusing that there was a politician named McGovern.  That’s like a seminarian named McClergy.

Speaking of adults, this short film was hosted by actor Bob Crane, who would be murdered six years later and whose life would serve as the basis for a rather depressing movie called Auto Focus.

Anyway, in the immortal words of Team America: World Police, “America!  Fuck yeah!”  Let’s make this the best Loyalty Day ever!



A Blast From The Past: I Just Don’t Dig Him (produced by The Department Of Mental Health, State of Connecticut)

The haunting opening scene of I Just Don’t Dig Him…

Ah, parents and their children!

It doesn’t matter what year it is or where they live or who they are.  Parents never understand their children and children never understand their parents and, ultimately, there’s always that one friend who ends up nearly chopping his finger off.

At least, that’s the message that I got from watching the 1970 educational film, I Just Don’t Dig Him.

This film was produced by the state of Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and apparently, it was designed to show that adults and teenagers actually had more in common than they realized.  For instance, in this film, both groups share an intense loathing for each other.

The film is about a father and his son.  The father spends all of his time complaining about his son.  The son spends all of his time complaining about his father.  For some reason, we’re treated to a really gross close-up of the son’s bare feet.  Meanwhile, the father applies aftershave as if the fate of the world depended upon it.  The son’s best friend assures him that his father isn’t so bad.  The father’s best friend assures him that his son isn’t so bad.  And then the son’s friend accidentally chops off his finger while fooling around with a car engine.  The father helps to stop the bleeding while his son stares at him resentfully.  The message appears to be that adults and children need to communicate better but, ultimately, you want an adult around if anyone starts bleeding.

I like films like this, largely because I’m an unapologetic history nerd and I Just Don’t Dig Him is such a product of its time that it might as well be wearing bell bottoms and dropping brown acid.  Watching the film today, it’s hard not to be amused by how intense both the father and the son are about … well, everything.  When the father shaves, you’re first thought is, “That man should not be allowed to handle anything sharp.”  When the son talks on the phone, you feel bad for whoever’s having to listen to him whine.  Generations are at war, this film seems to say, and there’s no hope until the younger generation realizes that they have no business working on cars.

With this being 4/20 and the world currently being caught up in its own increasingly tedious generational war, today seems like the perfect time to share I Just Don’t Dig Him!

A Blast From The Past: Case Study: LSD

Though it’s been a while since we last did so, we occasionally like to share old educational and promotional films here at the Shattered Lens.  For some reason, we always seem to end up sharing quite a lot of them in October.  Something about the over-the-top educational format just tends to bring out the ghoulish melodrama in some aspiring filmmakers.

Take Case Study: LSD, for instance!  This 3 and a half minute film is from 1969.  It was made to dissuade viewers from experimenting with LSD but I get the feeling that I probably just mostly inspired people to try to recreate the infamous hot dog scene.

It’s a good film for October, though.  Plus, I like looking at all the hippies in their hippie clothes.  GET A HAIRCUT, YOU HIPPIES!

Believe it or not, Case Study: LSD has a page over at the IMDb but no director is listed.  Judging from the film’s use of still frames, I’m going to guess that it was directed by Chris Marker.


A Blast From The Past: Make Mine Freedom

Hi there!

Well, it’s May 1st!  Not only is it International Worker’s Day but, here in the United States, it is also Loyalty Day!

What are you supposed to do on Loyalty Day?  To be honest, I’m not really sure.  I actually didn’t even know there was such a thing as Loyalty Day until about two years ago.  I guess I’ll spend this Loyalty Day as I spent previous Loyalty Days, ironically commenting on the fact that it’s Loyalty Day.

So, with all that in mind, here’s a rather odd blast from the past (1948, to be exact) called Make Mine Freedom.  It’s a cartoon about why America rules and the rest of the world sucks.  Woo hoo!  Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!  USA!  USA! USA!

As for the cartoon itself, it’s charmingly odd and will be best enjoyed by people who have a sense of humor about their ideology.  (Good luck finding anyone like that in 2017.  Those of us who think that both the left and the right are worthy of ridicule are becoming an endangered species.)  This cartoon was produced by Arkansas’s Harding College and, online, there seems to be some debate over who actually directed it.  Some sources claim that this was one of the first projects on which Joseph Barbera and William Hanna ever worked.  Others insist that this film should be properly credited to either Fritz Freling or Fred Moore.

Well, whoever directed it, did a good job of exposing that mean old Dr. Utopia…

Enjoy Make Mine Freedom and happy May Day!


Twin Blasts From The Past: What To Do On A Date and Dating Do’s and Don’ts (dir by Ted Peshak)

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any old educational films here on the Shattered Lens but I figured now might be the perfect time to share an old movie from 1951, What To Do On A Date.  Produced by the good (or so I assume) people at Coronet Films, What To Do On A Date is … well, the plot is pretty much in the title.

Now, to be honest, this could have just as easily been called What To Do On A Date If You Want To Make Sure That Lisa Never Agrees To A Second Date.  Seriously, this is totally squaresville.  Like real Melvin.  But you know what?  I’m notoriously hard to please and, with Valentine’s Day coming up, this may be helpful to someone.

I don’t know who, exactly.  But hey, it’s on YouTube and that’s the important thing.

(I’m all about helping.  You know that.)

If you still need help after What To Do On A Date, you can watch 1949’s Dating Do’s and Don’ts.  It was directed by the same guy who did What To Do On A Date.  People in the 1940s were notorious for knowing what to do on dates.  The Baby Boom didn’t just happen, y’know.

(Apparently, the version of Dating Do’s and Don’ts uploaded to YouTube is incomplete.  But you’ll get the general point.)


A Blast From The Past: Capitalism

If you’re a long time reader of the site, you may know that I occasionally enjoy tracking down old educational films.  If nothing else, they’re good time capsules and you know how much I love history.  And, since we’re in the middle of an election year and people are tossing around all sorts of labels and claims about history, I figured why not share something from the past?

Capitalism is from 1948 and it features a group of teenagers (who apparently have their own radio talk show) sitting around and debating whether or not capitalism is a good thing or a bad thing.  After spending a long amount of time debating whether or not local storekeeper Mr. Brown is a businessmen or a parasite, the teenagers (who all appear to be in their mid-20s) start their show and immediately start to visualize various adults giving their opinion on capitalism.  The teenagers also remind us that “this is your forum.  What is capitalism?”

Since the film is from 1948, you can probably guess that the message of this film should not be mistaken for the message of Michael Moore’s documentary of the same name.

As I watched Capitalism, I couldn’t help but wonder where those teenagers were now.  I imagine that some of them are probably dead but undoubtedly, there’s a few who are still alive and they’re probably still freaking out over their grandchildren voting for Bernie Sanders.

“Why, I remember when I used to host a radio forum and me and my high school peers very politely discussed this very subject!”

“Whatever, grandpa.  Have you seen my Che Guevara shirt?”

Who knows?

I just hope that Mr. Brown eventually made enough money to retire some place nice.  Yes, he may have charged too much but he had the right to make a living, dammit!

Blast From the Past: A Day In The Death of Donny B (dir by Carl Fick)

Just a few hours earlier, I was going through my DVR and I discovered that I had recorded, off of TCM, a film called A Day In The Death of Donny B.  That title immediately caught my attention (and I imagine that the title is probably what inspired me to record the film in the first place).  A Day In The Death of Donny B sounds like the title of something that would have come out of Andy Warhol’s Factory in the late 60s, maybe starring Joe Dallesandro as Donny B and Edie Sedgwick as herself.

So, of course, I simply had to watch it to discover just who Donny B was and how many days it would take him to die.  Add to that, I also noticed that the film only lasted 15 minutes, making it the perfect viewing experience for someone, like me, who has absolutely no attention span.

Anyway, I watched it and I discovered that it’s not a Warhol film.  However, it was filmed in 1969 and it contains a lot of cinéma vérité-style footage of the slums of New York City, which means that it takrd place in roughly the same world as some of Warhol’s films.  It turns out that The Death of Donny B was produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  It’s an anti-drug film, obviously designed to speak to young and black audiences.

The film follows an African-American addict named Donny B as he wanders through the shadows of New York City and tries to scrounge up enough money to buy heroin.  While we watch him go about his day, we listen to voice overs from former addicts and some of Donny’s family members.  They all agree that Donny is basically a huge loser.  Donny B. is credited as playing himself and he has a definite screen presence, even if he looks a bit too healthy for someone who, we’re told, shoots heroin several times a day.

The film itself is shot in harshly beautiful black-and-white and the soundtrack features a droning song (credited to someone named Harry Holt) that, for the most part, consists lyrically of: “It’s a day in the death of Donny B…” and trust me, that song will get stuck in your head.  Today, of course, the main appeal of The Death of Donny B is that it’s a time capsule of when it was made.  For those of us who might be curious as to what New York was like back in the dangerous 1960s, The Death of Donny B is our time machine.

And you can watch it below!

And if you happen to be Donny B, leave a comment below because we would love to hear from you!