The films on the following list have been uploaded thanks to individuals and organizations that sponsored their digitization. Choose from Animation, Art, Business/Industry, Drama, Guidance, Ethnographic and Science/Math subjects. Click on any film and you'll be taken to the viewing space for that film. To see the complete collection, go directly to our Academic Film Archive of North America collection page at the Internet Archive. And please join us by sponsoring a film yourself.
'Barking Plate' (1974) 10m, uncredited director. This was a remarkable film made as part of one of the most inventive series of films made for young learners, the 20-part 'Inventive Child' series, distributed in North America by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films. The film is an animated, non-narrated story about an extremely inventive boy, who invents a phonograph from materials found around the farm, beginning with a platter made from a pottery wheel. When his home phono is completed, the dog barks on the platter scare away a fox that has been harassing the hens. As in the other films in the series, the animation is wonderful, the plot and writing intelligent, and the music is terrific. Made by Film Polski and Telewizja Polska, none of the participants in the production are credited. If you know of the director, producer, or musical director, please contact us. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
'Basic Brown, Basic Blue' (1969) 10m, dir. Homer Groening. Ever wonder how Matt Groening of 'The Simpsons' got his quirky sense of humor? Probably from his filmmaker dad, Homer Groening, who passed away in 1996. Although known for his documentaries, Homer Groening directed and narrated this film, ostensibly about color, but filled with an ongoing series of bikini-clad bathing beauties. The film is perhaps best viewed as a graphic artifact that will interest media historians seeking additional insight into the elements that influenced the cartoonist. Sponsored by Debbie Edmonson.
‘Hangman’ (1964) 12m, dir. Paul Julian. A cynical look at how humankind loves to feed others into the death machine, from a disturbing poem by Maurice Ogden, read by Herschel Bernardi. Shadows and shifting geometric planes lend a Chirico-like quality to Julian’s animation. Sponsored by Martin J. Brown.
Homage à François Couperin (Butterflies) (1978) 2m, dir. Philip Stapp. Also known as "Butterflies". A three-minute fantasy of butterflies and dragonflies cavorting amongst the pussywillows, Japanese-inspired animation accompanied by two variations on keyboard works by the Baroque composer. Sponsored by Scott Edmonson
'Inside Magoo' (1960) 15, prod. Steve Bosustow. The nearsighted Mr. Magoo here experiences the seven danger signals of cancer and sees his doctor, even though as a Sagittarius, he feels he is not susceptible (Cancer, get it?). Notable for acted sequences with Jim Backus, producer Stephen Bosustow, and Scopitone star Joi Lansing as the nurse. Magoo goes to gets his colon scoped! Sponsored by Robert Emmett McGlynn
‘Picture in Your Mind’ (1948) 20m, dir. Philip Stapp. Sent by the U.S. government as a participant in the Marshall Plan with a specific mission to assist the French in re-gearing their animation studios, Stapp discovered a Europe much-decimated by war, but in further danger of annihilation by nuclear weapons. Returning to the U.S., he produced this alarming-yet-hopeful film, replete with its lonely, Tanguy-inspired landscapes peopled with static figures casting long shadows across charcoal-colored plains. While taking the risk of leaning a bit toward didacticism, Stapp managed to urgently convey the thought that world destruction was not necessarily inevitable, provided that people embrace, rather than reject their cultural and racial differences. ‘Picture’ is a unique document resulting from the sometimes dreamy, sometimes nightmarish vision of the artist in a war-torn land, with the spectre of death hovering ever-so-slightly ahead. Sponsored by New York University
‘Rhinoceros’ (1965) 11m, dir. Jan Lenica. A animated version of Ionesco’s tale, a play on the theme of conformity. Sponsored by Lee Creighton
‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The’ (1962) 15m, dir. Edward English. Lisl Weil, a dancer who often performed in New York with friend Tommy Scherman and his Little Orchestra Society, was also a splendid charcoal artist. Here, accompanied by Sherman’s musical interpretation of the Paul Dukas classic, she soars across the screen, drawing abstract characters on a massive blank board in a timeless, fun film that juxtaposes wonderfully with the better-known Disney treatment in 'Fantasia.' Sponsored by Morton Schindel and Linda Lee at the Weston Woods Institute
‘Stonecutter’ (1960) 6m, dir. Gerald McDermott. McDermott made this, his first commercial film at the age of 19, an extremely complex animation short featuring approximately 2000 animation cels presented in six minutes. Influenced by Klee and Matisse, McDermott used silk-screen as well as traditional painting techniques in crafting ethnographic folk tale animation shorts. With films that are startling in intensity, and majestic in execution, McDermott is clearly one of the outstanding animators of his generation, despite having an output consisting solely of only five films, all of which are under 12 minutes in length. After retiring from film animation at the age of 32, McDermott began producing animated children’s books, eventually becoming one of the world’s best-known authors of books for young readers, winning numerous awards in the process. Sponsored by Jordy Whitmer
(1965) 4m, dir. Gerald McDermott. The Icarus tale, and Zellerbach Award
winner for Film as Art, at the San Francisco Film Festival.
'At your Fingertips: Boxes' (1970) 10m, dir. Peter Erik & Mary Anna Winkler. Reveals the supermarket as a source for every imaginable box, carton and container. Explains that these same receptacles, once they find their way to the home, provide a group of children with material for construction of art objects, playthings, houses and tunnels. A clever, beautiful film, showing children building everything from trains to colored houses, under the direction of Ernest Ziegfield, Ed. D. Sponsored by Scott Edmonson.
'Birch Canoe Builder' (1970) 20m, dir. Craig Hinde. Presents a study of the life of 80 year old Bill Hafeman, of Big Fork, MN, a woodsman and craftsman, who builds canoes from birch bark, cedar planks and spruce roots in the traditional Indian way, utilizing neither nails nor glue. Shows him constructing a canoe accompanied by his wife, Violet, as he describes his life in the forest environment and reflects on the importance of preserving ecological order. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
'Bronze: River of Metal' (1972), 30m, dir. Clifford B. West. Here, West looks at the art of casting Renaissance bronzes as a historian, appreciator, critic, and craftsman. The film begins with historian Bruno Bearzi showing Donatello's modifications, and his 14 separate castings, on the colossal bronze of St. Louis of Toulouse at the Museo dell'Opera. Then, a visit to the Hades-like Fonderia Ferdinando Marinelli, where four workers prepare casts for the lost-wax process, then laboriously hoist the heavy, molten bronze crucible, and carefully pour off its terrible contents, to a soundtrack of ambient noise made by sculptor Harry Bertoia. Finally, the director turns to the past, through the doors of Ghiberti in the Baptistry of Florence. Sponsored by Bente Torjusen.
'Creative Journey: Arnold Blanch' (1969) 26m, dir. Clifford B. West. Here, West surveys the life and work of Arnold Blanch, showing him as a teacher and painter in Woodstock, New Jersey. Sponsored by Linda Ronich.
'Doña Rosa: Potter of Coyotepec' (1959) 10m, prod. Orville Goldner. Beautiful color film on Doña Rosa de Nieto, from San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, showing her making an olla, and firing her creations in an underground kiln. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation.
'Great Illusion, The' (1954) 2m, dir. Wolf Koenig. This hilarious silent experimental film was made by Koenig, and explored abstract art as it related to alcohol-induced myopia. Filmed in the studio of animators Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart, it was never released, and stars National Film Board of Canada stalwarts Stanley Jackson as the painter, and director Roman Kroitor as the subject.
'Harry Bertoia's Sculpture' (1965) 23m, dir. Clifford B. West. Born in Italy in 1915, Bertoia eventually moved to Michigan, attended Cass Technical High School, where he was introduced to metals, and moved on to the Cranbrook Academy, where he met fellow student Clifford West. Shortly after his marriage in 1943 (West was his best man), Bertoia moved to California at the behest of his friend Charles Eames, and collaborated on the design of the famous ‘Eames Chair’ produced by Knoll Associates. In the 1950s, he set up his own studio in Bally, Pennsylvania, where he designed the well-known ‘Bertoia Chair’, also for Knoll. Soon, he was experimenting with sculptures of different alloys and patinas, and would create ‘musique concrète’ soundscapes utilizing his sculptures. He died in 1978, a victim, says West, of heavy metal poisoning, acquired as a result of his constant proximity to metals and chemicals. From a cinemagraphic and sound perspective, this is West’s most progressive film, as abstract in filmmaking technique as the sculptures themselves. Opening with the camera slowly moving over what appears to be the surface of the moon, it suddenly falls back to reveal instead the texture of a sculpture. The film is one of constant motion, resulting from the vertiginous movements of West’s camera, or the movement built into the sculptures themselves. The music, played by Bertoia, utilizing various objects alternately hammering or caressing his sculptures, is reminiscent of the work of Xenakis. From the perspective of West’s career, the film marked the beginning of a new, bolder approach to camera movement, as seen in later films such as ‘Bronze: River of Metal’ (1972), and ‘The Art of Rolf Nesch: Material Pictures’ (1972). Sponsored by Bente Torjusen.
‘Dong Kingman’ (1954) 20m, dir. James Wong Howe. This exceptional film shows Kingman at work in New York’s Chinatown. Sponsored by New York University
'Fiddler, The' (1975) 20m, dir. Marshall Riggan. This amazing film showcases an elderly East Texas fiddle maker and his wife. After his hand-crafted fiddle is finished, we discover that he's an amazing country fiddler, too. This 'lost' film was produced by Riggan for a religious organization. Later, under new management, the organization apparently decided that the film was more profane than sacred, and discarded or destroyed all remaining prints. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
‘Hands of María’ (1968) 15m, dir. J. Donald McIntyre María Martinez was a well-known and historically significant Jemez potter from San Ildefonso, New Mexico, whose work is in most major southwestern museum pottery collections. Here, she is seen building large pieces by building coiling ropes of clay. An unusually large percentage of lost films are based on southwestern or American Indian themes, perhaps reflecting the fact that, from a school curriculum perspective, they are no longer the ethnicity du jour... Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
‘Jose Iturbi: Part I’ (1941) 10m, dir. Reginald LeBorg. Iturbi here performs dazzling interpretations of 'Sevilla' by Albeniz and 'Fantasie - Impromptu' by Chopin. Sponsored by Fred Sanchez/Realty Brokers
‘Kienholz on Exhibit’ (1969) 21m, dir. June Steel. Born in 1927 in the border area between Washington and Idaho, Kienholz moved to Los Angeles in 1953, where he began making a series of bas-reliefs with found material. Prior to his death in 1994, he was primarily known for his "Assembly Art" sculptures, consisting of mannequins, stuffed animals, and pieces of clothing, focusing on subjects such as controversial as bordellos, back seat sex, and abortion. Steel’s extremely entertaining film consists of audience reactions to a Kienholz exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art, which includes his well-known pieces ‘"The Birthday’, ‘Back Seat Dodge’, and ‘Roxy's’. Sponsored by Scott Edmonson.
'Les Derniers Canuts' (1965?) 10m, dir. Jean Mailland. A fine documentary of silk weaving in Lyons, France. Sponsored by Lee Creighton
'Music from Oil Drums' (1956) 20m, dir. Toshi & Peter Seeger. Long unavailable, this film presents Pete Seeger (who wrote a manual for playing steel drums) visiting steel drum makers and players in Trinidad. We found the process of tuning the pans particularly interesting. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
'Posada' (1964) 14m, dir. José Pavón. José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) was an important Mexican satirist, known for his engravings and broadsides, pillorying the excesses of the regime of Porfirio Díaz. His graphical invention, the Calavera de la Catrina, has become iconic in Mexico, portrayed in print and sculpture. This film provides a history of the artist and his times. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation.
'Pueblo Mexicano de Caldereros' (1962) 8m, prod. Stuart Roe & Richard Guttman. This exceptional film discusses how the people of the Mexican village of Mijas (called 'Santa Clara' in film) follow an ancient tradition of coppermaking established before the coming of the Spanish missions, and shows their methods in detail. 56 families live in the village, all are coppersmiths. Highlights include building an oven from mud and stone, melting copper ore, and the beating of sheet copper into large trays and bowls by small and large hammers. Sponsored by Julie Cross.
‘Trio, The’ (1953?) 30m, dir. Irving Reis or Jules Dassin. Landmark musical performances were a staple of early television, but unfortunately many of the early examples have been destroyed. This extremely rare film documents cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, violinist Jascha Heifetz, and pianist Artur Rubenstein. Somewhat stilted in the way only early television can be, it nevertheless showcases the technique and personalities of three of the 20th century’s greatest musicians. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
‘Visite à Picasso’ (1950) 20m, dir. Paul Haesaerts A poetic treatment which includes the artist painting on glass while facing the camera, shot at Picasso's home in Vallauris, accompanied by some fairly moody organ music in this very dark, but captivating film. The artist here takes on the character of an eminence-grise, an alchemist engulfed in the "sol y sombra" of his laboratory-studio, filmed in gorgeous black and white. Sponsored by THE PROCESS of Santa Fe. Note: this film was removed as requested by the copyright holder.
'Woodblock Printer' (1968) 16m, dir. Carson Davidson. Follow the step - by - step execution of a woodblock print by artist Lowell Naeve from initial sketch to completed edition. Emphasizes the unique qualities of the medium for creative expression. Sponsored by Diane & Willliam Ginsberg
'Big Chief 34 Drilling Rig' (1955?) 20m, uncredited director. Shows the assembly on dry land of components that will make up Big Chief Drilling Company's Rig 34. After assembly, it's all tugged on two barges 60 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, where it's completely assembled at sea. Sponsored by the Chieftain Royalty Company.
'Brake Free' (1970) 6m, dir. Carson Davidson. The third in a series of films that Kit Davidson made on railways (the others are 'Third Avenue El' and 'Railway with a heart of Gold'), this film is staged on the Mount Washington (NH) cog railway. Sponsored by David Richards
'Cliché Family in Televisionland' (1965?) 10m, prod. MPO Productions. This outrageous parody of the prototype 'commercial' family was apparently made as an in-house joke by one of the largest producers of television commercials. Their clients would have never seen this gem, which parodies products as well as the people that buy them. Sponsored by Rob McGlynn
‘Facts About Projection’ (1950) 10m, dir. Robert Edmonds. An old-timey set-up & projection techniques film, set in a school classroom. This film teaches the young projectionist how to put on a good show, and not trip over the cord while doing so. Sponsored by Rob McGlynn
'Granite' (1980) 10m, dir. Carson Davidson. Here, a 25 ton block of granite being burned, drilled, and blasted from the heart of a Vermont mountain, focusihttp://www.archive.org/details/modern_business_machines_for_writingng on the machinery used. Filmed at the Rock of Ages Quarry in Barre, VT. Sponsored by David Richards
'Modern Business Machines for Writing, Duplicating, and Recording' (1947) 20m, uncredited director. An intriguing historical film, demonstrating many expensive business machines found in modern offices of the era, including electromatic and Chinese typewriters and machines for filming, stenciling, folding and lithographing. Among the machines shown are Diebold's Flofilm microfiche recorder, the Fileomatic Desk, the Pierce Electronic Wire Recorder, the Soundscriber with plastic disk, the Elliott Stencil Machine with Graphotype machine, the Davidson Duplicator for litho printing, the Davidson Folder for letters, the Varityper, the Autotypist Perforator, the IBM Chinese character typewriter, and speed typist Stella Pajunas, using an IBM Model A Electric Typewriter, who set a one-hour typing speed record in 1946 of 140 net five-stroke words per minute. More on Pajunas at www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/modelb/modelb_4509PH04.html Sponsored by Thomas S. Mullaney
'Newspaper: Behind the Scenes' (1970) 15m, uncredited director. Shows the San Jose Mercury News in all elements of production. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
‘One Hundred Watts 120 Volts’ (1977) 10m, dir. Carson Davidson. The mechanized production of Duro-Test light bulbs is filmed as a dance to the tune of the Brandenburg, as choreographed filaments, glass, and metal combine in a dynamic finale. Sponsored by Scott Edmonson
'Plant Pilferage' (1966) 30m, dir. Francis J. Rose. This film, made for the Highway Safety Foundation, was shot at a Sunbeam appliance factory, was meant to show 60's plant managers how to prevent employee theft. The plant is surrounded by barbed wire, and the good guys go around checking lunch pails (one of the employees is shown hiding a clothes iron in it beforehand). Right off the bat, you start pulling for the employees, taking glee in every theft. Terrible microphone placement is one of the hallmarks of this remarkable period piece on industrial-employee relations. Sponsored by Scott Edmonson and Robert Emmett McGlynn
‘Project Discovery: a Demonstration in Education’ (1965) 30m, Irving Rusinow. This important film focuses on the experimental project most responsible for taking millions of public dollars away from textbook producers, and delivering it into the hands of educational film companies. The result? The blossoming of the academic film movement in the U.S., a filmmaking renaissance that changed the way curriculum was discussed and taught in North America. Here we visit the classroom that toppled the textbook companies, at Mercer Elementary School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Our host is Principal Alice Van Deusen, joined by teacher Mimi Weber. Weber illustrates the process of starting and stopping the projector during lessons, and instructs her students on the use of film and film strip projectors. Sponsored by Charles Benton
'Railway with a Heart of Gold' (1965) 15m, dir. Carson Davidson. This film is an account of the Talyllyn Railway, a historic narrow-gauge slate carrier in Tywyn, Wales, and its operation by a preservation society who saved it from being sold for scrap. Although the release date is 1965, it was actually filmed in the early 1950s. Opened in 1865, the Talyllyn railway was the first narrow-gauge steam railway opened specifically for industrial hauling by steam. Since saving the railway in the late 1940's, hundreds of individuals have been involved in keeping it running, and visitors are welcome to ride. The passion for the railway on the part of the Society is extraordinary. Volunteers are classed in three groups: adults, adolescents, and children, and a significant number of marriages and children have happened as a result of the social interaction among society members. I found the Talyllyn experience to be a culture with a passion for preservation. Filmmaker Kit Davidson gave the Society the right to use this film to raise funds, and they sell the DVD in their shop. When I (AFA director Geoff Alexander) arrived, the four people cleaning the locomotive spontaneously started whistling the theme to this film, written by Judd Woldin. The railway is easily visited by rail from virtually any point in the UK, as connections can be made to the town of Tywyn, in Wales, where the Talyllyn Railway is located. Sponsored by David Richards
'Stalking the Wild Cranberry: the Making of a TV Commercial' 1972, 15m, dir. Gordon Webber. This wonderful film traces the steps taken in creating and shooting a television commercial for Post Grape Nuts. This film was produced by George Gage Productions, which filmed the commercial, starring the legendary Euell Gibbons, for the Benton & Bowles advertising agency, with lots of discussions & outtakes. The funky "Cranberry Rag" played by pianist Paul McDonough is a hoot. Sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies
'TV News: Behind the Scenes' 1973, 29m, dir. Michael Livesey, produced by John Barnes. Shows the tight editorial and technical teamwork responsible for a local television news program. Depicts reporters interviewing actor Burt Reynolds and actress Dyan Cannon, examining the effects of an emergency water main break and covering a massive demonstration on Park Avenue. Features WABC anchorman Roger Grimsby, reporters Bill Beutel, Geraldo Rivera, Robert Labe, and Melba Tolliver. Sponsored by Scott Vincent
'Unique Contribution' (1959) 30m, with Maurice Mitchell. Here, the legendary president of EB Films discusses the 'unique contribution' of educational film to curriculum and learning. The film is geared toward instructors, and provides examples of mediated instructional techniques from filmmakers such as Roman Vishniac and John Barnes. Sponsored by Charles Benton
'Valley of Heart's Delight' (1948) 18m, unknown director. No no, this is not the pristine, black and white film from 1925 showing in the display at History San Jose, but a spanking 'new' version, touting Santa Clara Valley's Clapp's Baby Food factory, the American Can Company plant, FMC, San Jose Steel, and Moffett Field, all accessible via the old Monterey Highway, or after arrival on the Coast Daylight steam locomotive-driven train. Sponsored by Rob McGlynn
'Wildcat' (1959) 30, dir. Dick McCutcheon. Follows two Oklahoma wildcatters as they prepare to sink a well. Shows their drilling operations for the Big Chief Drilling Company in Garfield County, OK; Only 1 out of 9 wells are wet, and it takes them 22 days and 6,750 feet to figure it out. Sponsored by Rob Abernathy
'Ancient World, The: Egypt' (1951) 66m, dir. Ray Garner. This film taces the story of Egypt from the prehistoric period to the time of the Ptolemies, focusing on the Nile, temples, pyramids and the Sphinx. Here, Garner showcases a single shot of ruins as light and dark as clouds pass, a signature of his. The filmmaker waxes poetic in this statement: "For Egypt is a monument, not to the conqueror or statesman, but to the artist, the architect, the painter, the sculptor, whose works will remain in the minds of men, when pomp and ceremony are but whispering echoes in the corridors of time." For more on Garner, visit http://www.afana.org/garner.htm Sponsored by Gay Mackintosh.
'Ancient World, The: Greece' (1955) 66m, dir. ray Garner. This film recreates the ancient Greek world through its extant art and literature. The narration is from translations of Greek authors, including Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, and Plutarch, and accompanies visual impressions of Greek religious philosophy and history through the golden age. The film features spectacular footage of Crete, Knossos, Mycenae, and the sculptures of Athens. It discusses the Persians at Marathon, then 10 years later, Xerxes at Thermopylae. For more on Garner, visit http://www.afana.org/garner.htm Sponsored by Gay Mackintosh.
'Atlantic Crossing: Life on an Ocean Liner' (1967), 25m, dir. Bill Deneen. In this film, Deneen starred his wife and three sons (all uncredited), after he’d arranged a trade with Italian Lines for free passage for his family in return for a film about the liner S.S. Leonardo Da Vinci. The film is a remarkable children’s film as well as serving as an important document of one of the most advanced ocean liners of its day, now scrapped. More on this remarkable ocean liner at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Leonardo_da_Vinci Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
'Be-ta-ta-kin (House Under the Rim)' (1955) 11m, dir. Ray Garner. This film depicts the early life of the Anasazi via a tour through the cliff dwellings of Betatakin, now part of the Navajo National Monument in northern Arizona. The film discusses elements of Anasazi daily life, their agriculture, and social and religious life. For more on Garner, visit http://www.afana.org/garner.htm Sponsored by Gay Mackintosh.
'Birds of the Inland Waterways' (1946) 11m, dir. Olin Sewall Pettingill, Jr. Presents various birds of inland waterways in their native habitat --- the belted kingfisher in underground nests, glossy ibis, avocet, red-backed sandpiper, Canada goose and several members of the heron family. Sponsored by Andrew Lowd.
‘Crisis in Levittown’ (1957) 25m. dir. Lee Bobker/Lester Becker. The Black upper middle-class Myers family moves into all-white Levittown, PA in August, 1957, and are snubbed and mistreated, in this powerful landmark documentary showcasing racism in the United States. Sponsored by Katy Brocksmith
'Celebrating the Life of Milan Herzog' (2010), 21m, prod. Shanta Herzog, Eric Acevedo. Milan Herzog produced, both as a line producer as well as an executive producer, an estimated 400 titles, probably more academic films than anyone in history. He passed away in April, 2010, at the age of 101. This film was made for the people attending a celebration of his life held on June 19, 2010 in Los Angeles. Of particular interest is Milan’s own recounting of his life, taped on his 90th birthday, which occupies much of the soundtrack of this film.
Equality Under the Law: The Lost Generation of Prince Edward County (1965) 25 m, dir. John Barnes. In 1959, Prince Edward County, Virginia, closed its public schools rather than integrate them. White children went to publicly aided private schools while black students went to free schools staffed by volunteers. In 1964, the Supreme Court ordered the schools opened to all, but 90 percent of the whites stayed in private schools. The film shows a whites-only prom off-campus in a private club. Lots of poignant interviews by director John Barnes, with people fearing mixed marriages, etc. The film was co-written by Barnes and Linda Gottlieb. From EB's 'Our Living Bill of Rights' series.
'Clown' (1969) 15m, dir. Richard Balducci. Along with Larry Yust's 'Lottery', 'Clown' was probably the two best selling ed films ever made. On the surface, it's a cute kid & dog story. Underlying is a possible subtext that fascinates us every time we view the film, and makes for a satisfying, yet ultimately ambiguous ending. Gilou Pelletier is outstanding as the small boy, and the camera work by Guy Suzuki takes wonderful advantage of the terraces of Montmartre. Sponsored by Scott Hammond
'Encore un Hiver' (1979) 15m, dir. Françoise Sagan. This wonderful film focuses on an older woman waiting on a park bench on a cold winter day for a lover who returns every year. Sponsored by Lee Creighton
Films by Bert Salzman: Angel & Big Joe, Felipa: North of the Border, Geronimo Jones, Joshua: Black Boy of Harlem, Lee Suzuki: Home in Hawaii, Matthew Aliuk: Eskimo in Two Worlds, Me and You: Kangaroo, Miguel: Up from Puerto Rico, Shopping Bag Lady
'Help! My Snowman's Burning Down' (1964) 10m, dir. Carson Davidson. Oscar-nominated short, 1964; Shows a man sitting in a bathtub on a pier at the Hudson River with a background of the New York skyline. He is typing underwater with the words literally going down the drain. Opens the door, and a stripper wrapped in toilet paper appears, and attempts to seduce him. Neat jazz score by Cool Jazzmen Gerry Mulligan & Bob Brookmeyer. Sponsored by Diane & Willliam Ginsberg
Ages - A Wanderer's Guide To Life and Letters' (1970, 27m, dir. Piers
Jessop). Jessop’s 'Wanderer's Guide' is full of humor (some of it, wonderfully,
on the dark side), and is a tour-de-force for the brilliant acting of Nicholas
Pennell as ‘Robert,’ a fun-loving, arty, bawdy, and roguish guide to the
culture, politics, and mores of the year 1350. Athletic and erudite, Pennell
stole kisses, ran from pursuers, and leapt obstacles as he engaged the viewer by
proving that old times may not have been all that different from newer ones,
seemingly encouraging individuality while perversely at the same time striving
to crush it. Pennell, who for the following twenty years would be one of the
Stratford Theatre of Canada’s leading actors, was born in Devon, England in
1939, and died in Ontario in 1995.
Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
'Poppycock' (1966) 16m, dir. Carson Davidson. Kit Davidson here presents a satire in which the hero overcomes all obstacles against his rival to win a girl and ends in glorious victory. Sponsored by Dave Richards
'Rocking-Horse Winner, The (1976, 30m, dir. Peter Medak) Presents an adaptation of the novel of the same title by D.H. Lawrence, about a young, sensitive English boy whose rocking horse empowers him to predict winning racehorses at the eventual cost of his life. Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
‘Silent Snow, Secret Snow’ (1966) 15m, dir. Gene Kearney. Alienation, angst, and schizophrenia are the themes addressed subtly and powerfully by Kearney in this adaptation of a story by Conrad Aiken. Sponsored by Rob McGlynn
'Shaw vs. Shakespeare' series EB (1970) 90m, dir. John Barnes. After reading the complete works of George Bernard Shaw, Barnes wrote, directed, and produced a series of three films narrated by Shaw (the excoriating Shaw portrayed brilliantly by Donald Moffat), describing how parallel characters (e.g. Julius Caesar, played by Richard Kiley) are treated differently by the two playwrights. We feel this series is one of the highlights of educational cinema: engaging, thoughtful, and intellectually stimulating., a masterpiece of the genre. The series consists of three 1/2 hour films: 'The Character of Caesar,' 'The Tragedy of Julius Caesar,' and 'Caesar and Cleopatra.' For the remarkable story of the creation of these films, visit www.afana.org/99chrono.htm and scroll down to the date of Thursday, 15 April 1999. Sponsored by Jeanne Barnes.
'Unicycle: Looking at My World'
(1976) 15m, dir. Dan Bessie. The world of 15 year old unicyclist Tony Marienthal
includes visits to assist the elderly, learning new juggling tricks, and trying
to make it home for supper. The film is a wonderful, idyllic "day in the life"
film of a teen-ager. It's also somewhat bittersweet, as Tony Marienthal, who
wanted his baby son to see this film, died at the young age of 51. It's
uploading is being sponsored by his family, who'll show it at Tony's memorial.
About making the film, director Dan Bessie writes: "The Marienthal family had
been friends of mine since I first met them at about age 18 or so, about the
time I was making several films during in my early 30s, Tony had learned to ride
the unicycle and had a kind of original viewpoint on life, and since I had
already made a few films for Barr Films by then, he seemed like a natural
subject. I simply proposed the idea to Don Barr, then head of the company, gave
him a budget (I think it was only around three and a half thousand dollars or
so), and he said 'let's do it.' Simple as that. That was one of the great
delights in making educational films - often, I'd just have an idea, and maybe
the funder (Barr in this case) would ask to see a script, make a few simple
suggestions on it, then I'd bring in the completed film, on the budget they
provided. No committees or such, just usually a couple of people who said yeah
or nay... The film was very much shot 'off the cuff' and was a great deal of fun
to make. We didn't have a script, just a general sense of where we would film.
And it was all done in, as I recall, two or at the most three days. We used a
shopping cart that someone had abandoned in Tony's neighborhood as a 'dolly,'
for a couple shots, with me wheeling cameraman Bob Eberline around in it as he
filmed. Except for one other good friend, Linda Dangcil (you can find a lot
about her online) and her young son Richard, who appear in just one shot in a
shopping mall as Tony cycles past, and one shot with [my friend] Ann, who is
driving by and looks out as Tony cycles across the street, everyone else in the
film was just picked up at the moment as we moved around West Los Angeles and
did the filming. The old people in the film were clients of Tony, who did
gardening for them on weekends, and the man in the Mexican restaurant was also
well known to Tony, since he often went there for a taco or such after school.
(We went through a lot of cheese that day, all with the eager cooperation of the
‘Why Don't You Dance?’ (1990) 13m, dir. Steven Condiotti. From a story by Raymond Carver, filmed in El Cerrito. Here, a sad man puts his possessions on in his front yard to sell, and two strangers arrive as buyers. They remain, to become part of the tableau. They remain, to become part of the tableau. Two sets of relationships here are in a state of transition, in a beautiful, touching film that offers no concrete answers. Sponsored by Steven Condiotti
Ethnographic/Geography (see 'Arts' above for ethnographic arts & crafts)
‘African Pygmy Thrills’ (1930?) 10m, prod. Eugene W. Castle. Castle Films, whose series ‘The Adventure Parade’ resulted in a number of commercially exotic films on ethnic traditions and cultures, actually utilized authentic music in this film, instead of the boring orchestral scores that were more typical of the era. Although the continued use of the term "these little men", and the embarrassing attempt to comically portray an older member of the group as a cynic seems condescending to present-day sensibilities, the faithful recording of the building of a vine bridge 50 feet above the water is remarkable. Climbing 150 feet to the top of a riverside tree, a vine is fixed to an ingenious boatswain’s chair, and a member of the group is swung to a similar tree on the opposite side of the river. Over the next eight days, a complete bridge of several tons is built of vines, the crossing initiated by climbing either tree to the height of fifty feet. While such films represent proof that even sensationalist films of the era contained often superb ethnographic content, it also illustrates the frustration many of these cinematographers may have experienced in seeing their work dumbed-down for theatrical showing. Nevertheless, the documentary aspect of the footage is important, and represents an authentic, if somewhat clumsy attempt to portray significant elements of faraway cultures. ‘African Pygmy Thrills’ is historically significant for one other reason: feature filmmaker Werner Herzog has cited his viewing of this film, as a child, as the impetus for embarking on a career in film. Sponsored by Rob McGlynn
‘Baja California: the Pacific Coast of Mexico’ (1949) 12m, prod. Silas Johnson. Johnson is another "lost filmmaker, who worked out of Coronado, California. This film boasts beautiful color footage of old Baja, before Pemex stations lined the Cuota and Libre. Hunt travels from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, enchantingly stopping at the waterless village of Magdalena Bay, Tortuga Bay, and the vineyards at Santo Tomás. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation.
'Centinelas del Silencio' (1971) 18 m, dir. Robert Amran. The real star here is the late aerial photographer James Freeman, whose breathtaking helicopter shots of Mayan and Aztec ruins at sunrise and sunset won an Academy Award for this film in 1971. Although the English version was narrated by Orson Welles, the Spanish version we'll show tonight features narration by Ricardo Montalban, is in better keeping with the ethnic aspect of the film, and no knowledge of Spanish is needed to appreciate his dramatic impact. Don't be put off by the heroic musical score: this film is memorable, the last word on spectacular ruin cinematography. ‘Centinelas’ remains available on VHS only in México, while Amran has, according to at least one report, vanished south of the border. Freeman was killed while scouting a location for a commercial sponsored by Eastman Kodak. Sponsored by Rob McGlynn
‘Dances of the Kwakiutl’ (1951) 10m, dir. William Heick. A magnificent film featuring Pacific Northwest Indian dances of the ancient winter ceremonial handed down among the Kwakiutl families as their way of keeping history. Beautiful costumes and masks are worn by the dancers in the black and white film. Sponsored by Gregory Walker
'Death Valley' (1950) 10m, prod. Paul Hoefler. A beautifully shot trip through the Death Valley of the late 1940s, including visits to the ghost town of Ryan, Zabriskie Point, the Harmony Borax Works, and Scotty's Castle. Sponsored by David Peters
'El Cumpleaños de Pepita' (1957) 14m, unknown director. Meant to be shown to students learning Spanish, this film transcends the didactic, and provides a glimpse into the Mexico that has, in many places, all too quickly disappeared. Pepita and her uncle travel to Lake Pátzcuaro, get their pictures taken by an itinerant photographer, see wonderful dancers, and attend a birthday party. A sweet, wonderful film. (In Spanish) Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
'Eskimo Family' (1959) 16m, prod. Bill Deneen. Old ways are juxtaposed with the influence of modern housing, food, and clothing, filmed on Baffin Island. Sponsored by Bill Deneen
‘Fabricantes Mexicanas de Ollas' (1962) 9m, prod. Stuart Roe. A wonderful film,
depicting the making of ollas, large earthen jars, featuring Carmen Portillo of
the Mayan village of Ubalama, firing clay above ground, utilizing branches and
old boards for fuel. Sponsored by the Castellano
'Gentle Winds of Change: Uganda' (1961) 33m, dir. Marshall Segall. Segall, a professor of Psychology at Columbia, here investigates the impact of Western Civilization on Uganda, in the area of Mbarara, Ankole region (Ba-nyankole people). Scenes include a traditional wedding and the making of plantain beer. Segall originally traveled to Uganda for the purpose of making a sociological study, but decided to craft his footage into a film upon returning to the U.S. This remarkable work is the only film Segall ever made. Sponsored by Marshall Segall.
‘Guadalajara Family’ (1958) 13m, photographed by Willard C. Hahn. Another Paul Hoefler production, focusing on an upper-class family, military school, garden parties, etc. They enjoy themselves and the rustic beauty at a pristine lake nearby, where father intends to build a development. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
'Happy City' (1959) and 'Touch of his Hand' (1956) (each 35m), dir. Bill Deneen. Sponsored by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, filmmaker Bill Deneen traveled three days by bullock cart to the remote leper colony run by Father Cesare Columbo in Kengtung (Kyiang Tong), Burma, to make these films. Intended to be films to be used for fundraising, they are fascinating documentaries about a humanitarian effort that would soon be terminated by the Burmese government. Sponsored by Bill Deneen
'Indonesia: New Nation of Asia' (1959) 20m, dir. Bill Deneen. Hosted by Ubud's political leader Agang Djakorta Sulawesi Mas, Deneen here visits important sites and describes the political, religious, and economic situation in the Indonesia of 1959. Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
‘Iran’ (1971) 18m, dir. Claude Lelouch Far more than a travelogue with pretty pictures, this little-known film won six international awards shortly after its release. 'Iran' consists of spectacular geographical and archaeological footage interspersed with "slice of life"' shots, with the best juxtapositional editing we've ever seen. This is a buried masterpiece from the director of A Man and a Woman, Happy New Year, and And Now My Love. Lelouch reportedly shot six miles of footage to make this film, which apparently was sponsored by a multinational petroleum pipeline construction firm, as a gift to the Shah’s wife. One guesses that international dissatisfaction with the excesses of the Pahlevi regime negatively affected the distribution of the film, a shame, because few films treating similar themes are its equal. The musical score by Francis Lai is a priceless timepiece, resplendent with heavy early-70s euro-pop wah-wah guitar. An intriguing, beautifully crafted, and dynamic film, this visual poem transcends the didactic. Sponsored by Jeff Ubois
'Japan: Mircle in Asia' (1963) 30m, prod. Bill Deneen. Explains how Japan's rapid industrial growth has influenced the way of life in the country and has affected the international political and economic position of the country. Suggests that Japan turned to industrialization to support a rapidly growing population on a small and relatively poor land area. Deneen shot the aerial shots himself from a single-seat aircfraft, toggling the joystick while he pointed the camera out the window on sharply-banked turns. As an extra, Deneen appears on-camera in a 3:53 non-distributed film, describing the significance of his three-part series on Japan, of which this film is one. Sponsored by Bill Deneen
'Latitude Zero' (1961?), 20m, dir. Bill Deneen. Here's Deneen accompanies a priest through the backwaters of the Amazon River. There are many ethnographic elements to the film, one of the most notable of which is a ceremony in which a man stands in the sun, his hand being eaten by soldier ants, in a village ritual. Deneen was attacked by piranhas and bitten during the filming. Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
‘L'entente Cordiale’ (1951) 11m, unknown director). This film, in the ‘Beginning French Conversation’ series, portrays a slice of life that is rapidly disappearing in many French villages, in this case, the traditional French corner market, with its harried proprietor. Sponsored by Lee Creighton
‘Maguey: Plant of a Thousand Uses’ (1952) 14m, dir. Ralph Adams. Adams is a filmmaker whose life and work appear to be completely unknown today, as we have conducted a fruitless search to obtain biographical and filmographic information. He covered a breadth of territory, and we suspect that he might have made dozens of films on Mexican themes. His narration is not the most compelling, but he was a very good cinematographer, and apparently insisted upon superior print materials, as his color is exceptional for the era. Here, he describes the myriad uses of this interesting plant, including fences, paper, tequila, pulque, needle and thread and rope. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
‘Maya Are People’ (1951) 22m. dir. Les Mitchel. Many explorer-adventurer hosts of historical/cultural films viewed their subjects as "objects" (e.g. C. Ernest Cadle and Carveth Wells), their colonialist attitudes seeping precariously through the safety-film. Not so the wonderful and forgotten Les Mitchel, who arrives in the Lacandon area of the Yucatan, shows the chief Obregon K’in (of Agua Azul village, Palenque) how to fire a pistol, takes him on a plane-ride to view his ancestral ruins at Palenque. Much of this magnificent film was shot at Lacanha Chan Sayab. Viewers can find much to like about this filmmaker-adventurer, lost to history. Overly-sensitive individuals will be put-off, no doubt at Mitchel’s politically-incorrect use of cigarette-as-tool, burning the leave of a jungle plant to show its reflex to heat. At the end of the film, Mitchel delivers a heartfelt plea to save the culture from encroachment. All our attempts at finding any information on the filmmaker have failed. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
‘Mexican Ceramics’ (1966) 18m, prod. Reino Randall and Richard Townsend. This highly informative, well-made film focused on four geograophical areas: 1) Coyotepec, 2) Metepec (the art of Timotéo), 3) Tonalá (the work of Señores Palacios and Galván), 4) Puebla. Here we see low-fire pottery making as it was done by primitive methods before the potter's wheel, and the manufacture of the beautiful blue and white and polychrome high-fire pottery of Puebla. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
‘Mexican Village Life’ (1958) 15m, photographed by Willard C. Hahn, prod. Paul Hoefler. We profiled the life of the peripatetic Hoefler on our show of November 5, 1998 (visit http://www.afana.org/98chrono.htm , then search for the date). Here, director Willard Hahn travels to the village of San Diego de Tecoltepec, 6 miles from Toluca. He focuses on the harvesting of maguey juice, the washing of clothes in-stream, and the town’s water cistern, as the village has no running water. The villagers board a beautiful old bus to take their goods to the nearby market in Toluca, and walk home to avoid paying the fare of several centavos. Paul Hoefler’s films are completely lost, as apparently there are no familial descendants. We were able to obtain the last vestiges of his own collection on a pallet of material from Hoefler’s estate that was sold to a gun collector as part of what was, presumably, a collection of arms and materiel. Sponsored by Carol Hahn Horton
‘Quelle Chance’ (1953, 10m, unknown director). In the charming village of Vaires-sûr-Marnes, an accident occurs, and everyone leaves the restaurant to watch the aftermath. In their absence, a wandering accordionist and two children polish off the food and drink from everyone's table. The French sense of justice is secured, and the children are led away, holding their bellies. From the Modern Language Association. Sponsored by Lee Creighton
'Paraguay: a New Frontier' (1958) 14m, dir. Willard Hahn. Hahn films the Chaco region of Paraguay, exploring the ranch of American Bob Eaton, featuring Ligua Indian vaqueros. Also shown is a hand-cranked radio "bringing civilization to the wild Chaco." Also featuring the Mennonite settlement of Filadelfia, old streetcar in Asunción. Sponsored by Carol Hahn Horton.
‘Pottery Workers of Oaxaca’ (1952) 14m, dir. Ralph Adams. Adams features the legendary Zapotec potter Doña Rosa Real de Nieto, and her traditional technique of below-ground firing. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
'Rough Road to Panama' (1947) 37m. prod. Sullivan C. Richardson. The Sullivan C. Richardson Pan American Highway Expedition, 1940-1941. The first of a two-part series describing the first successful attempt to drive an automobile from the United States to the tip of South America the companion is was "Rugged Road to Cape Horn." Here, Richardson and two companions (one of whom is Arnold Whitaker) explore the route that would eventually become the Pan American Highway. In many cases their Plymouth sedan is towed by men and burros through difficult terrain. On the way, they visit Mexico City and meet President Miguel Alemán, , Monte Albán, Like Atitlán, Guatemala, hat weaving in El Salvador. Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation
'Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark' (1964) 22m, dir. Bill Deneen. The
film explains how the Scandinavians, through cooperation and industrial
development, have created a high living standard. It also provides an overview
of each country: the physical geography, natural resources, industry and
culture. Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
'Spanish Children' (1964) 11m, dir. Bill Deneen. Here we witness the activities of a boy and his sister during harvest time in a mountain village of Álora, 40km north of Málaga, in Spain, showing their life at home, at school, in the village plaza and in the orchards and fields. This whitewashed village with steep cobblestone streets was formerly home to Cervantes, and reputedly the birthplace of the Malagueñas style of flamenco music. The film depicts a life that may no longer exist in southern Spain, and ends with a performance of a lively young flamenco dancer. Sponsored by Matt Heftler.
'Variations on an Italian Theme' (1961), 20m, dir. Carson Davidson. A tour of Italy, with a view of the life of the Italian people. Follows a couple of bicyclists in the valley of Aosta, showing typical views of life in out of the way places. Included are a number of small portraits of Italians telling about working as an artistic blacksmith, interacting with visitors as a gondolier, and showing a historic home to interested strangers. Made for Alitalia Airlines. Preserved by the Academy Film Archive. Sponsored by Carson "Kit" Davidson.
'Wild Men of the Kalahari' (1930) 30m, prod. C. Ernest Cadle. In one of the earliest "talking pictures" shot in western Africa, expedition leader and lecturer Dr. C. Ernest Cadle of the Cameron-Cadle expedition describes the Kung Bushmen as "among the most treacherous creatures on earth". He then "baited them as we would an animal" to gather them for camera shots, and noted their eating habits ("he doesn't chew, but simply swallows like a dog"). Sponsored by Marti Kilby
'Library, The: a Place for Discovery' (1965) 17m, dir. Irving Rusinow. Illustrates services, materials and facilities of public and school libraries. Shows students how to use the card catalog and locate books. Explains vertical picture files and those for other A/V materials. Sponsored by Jack Coffey.
'Mike Makes his Mark' (1955) 28m, dir. Irving Rusinow. Mike hated the
new school. He challenged it by slashing an ugly mark on its front. Then he
found that the mark would stay on the wall and on his conscience until he
removed it by his own decision. Sponsored by Jeff
Using computer animation and pictures from NASA space missions, discusses the similarities and differences among the planets. Summarizes how the solar system was formed and why it is important to learn as much as possible about the other planets. Sponsored by Chuck Finance.
'Combines beautiful animation sequences with live-action and documentary photography for a dramatic exploration of the role comets play in scientific research. Sponsored by Chuck Finance.
'Controversy Over the Moon' (1971) 15m, dir. Charles L. Finance. Describes the efforts of scientists to determine the composition of the moon and how it affects the solar system, what meteors aremade from and how craters are formed. John Shelton was advisor. Debate is about what caused Copernicus carter, between geologists Jack Green, who advocates vulcanism, and Eugene M. Shoemaker, who advocates meteorite collision. Sponsored by Chuck Finance.
‘Coulomb's Law’ (1959) 25m, dir. Richard Leacock. Here, manic Princeton professor Eric Rogers hosts, continually removing and replacing his eyeglasses, ordering around lab assistants --- he forcefully breaks a glass test tube in the hands of an assistant to demonstrate the inelasticity of water --- and furiously pounds equations on a blackboard (Leacock says the scribblings must have lasted 45 minutes, in what must be one of the more necessary cuts in the history of educational film.) Rogers finally conducts an experiment with a young girl, placing her in a metal cage, which he then charges with electricity, demonstrating through the inverse square law that his assistant (Leacock’s trusting daughter Elspeth) is not harmed by the charge. Sponsored by Charles A. Bryant.
'Congruent Triangles' (1976) 10m, dir. Bruce & Katharine Cornwell. Bruce and Katharine Cornwell are primarily known for a series of remarkable animated films on the subject of geometry. Created on the Tektronics 4051 Graphics Terminal, they are brilliant short films, tracing Klee-like geometric shapes to intriguing music, including the memorable 'Bach meets Third Steam Jazz' musical score in ‘Congruent Triangles.’ In this melding of art and science, the Cornwells create a quasi-hypnotic take on a mathematical construct. Sponsored by Karl W. Reinsch
'Evidence for the Ice Age' (1965) 18m, dir. Charles L. Finance. This film examines many features of today's landscapes which cannot be explained by processes at work around them, and explains that observation of the work of modern glaciers establishes that these anomalies could only have been caused by a massive sheet of moving ice. It proposes the hypothesis that glacial ice moved south at least four times in geologic history, and that its shape and size correspond approximately with the distribution of glacial features. This is one in the series of exceptional American Geographical Institute (AGI) films made by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films. The educational consultant was John Shelton, and a standard feature of Shelton AGI films was the sound of the airplane's drone during aerial shots. Director Charles L. "Chuck" Finance has an illustrious acreer in film, including supervising the visual effects in 'Dune' and 'Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.' Sponsored by Chuck Finance.
‘Frames of Reference’ (1960) 26m, dir. Richard Leacock. This PSSC film utilizes a fascinating set consisting of a rotating table and furniture occupying surprisingly unpredictable spots within the viewing area. The fine cinematography by Abraham Morochnik, and funny narration by University of Toronto professors Donald Ivey and Patterson Hume is a wonderful example of the fun a creative team of filmmakers can have with a subject that other, less imaginative types might find pedestrian. Sponsored by Eric Prestamon
'Imaging the Hidden World: the Light Microscope' (1984) 20m, dir. Bruce Russell. To say Russell makes films on biology is sort of like saying Rodin threw some clay on a table and a few minutes later came up with a figure representative of a human. 'Light Microscope' starts out didactically (Russell was a former K-12 biology teacher) in instructing the student on proper microscope technique, then goes off into the hyperspace of lighting techniques, using light and colored filters, that make otherwise difficult-to-see phenomena visible. This film, frankly, borders on psychedelia, and shows the technology Russell himself uses to make his visually arresting films. Sponsored by Bruce Wakayama
'Journey to the Center of a Triangle' (1976) 8m, dir. Bruce & Katharine Cornwell. Another fabulous film by the Cornwells, created on the Tektronics 4051 Graphics Terminal. Sponsored by Karl W. Reinsch
‘Magnet Laboratory' (1960) 21m, dir. Richard Leacock. In the hands of another director, the inner-workings of a magnet laboratory could have caused a whole classroom to fall asleep of boredom. No so when Leacock was hired to produce this twenty-minute version of lab mayhem. Try this: six researchers in a lab at MIT in the late 1950's show-off the power of electro-magnets, and in the process, accidentally set an experiment on fire. Or this: half way through the film the phone rings off screen, and host Francis Bitter says "tell 'em I'll call 'em back later" while he's looking at the camera, discussing bus bars. Leacock’s fleshed out all the personalities here, from "Beans" Bardo, who cranks up the generator to nearly explosive proportions, to the mysterious Mr. Lin, who barely peeks over his shoulder at us, seemingly in mockery, disdain, or curiosity. Bitter is an important historical figure, whose degaussing techniques spared many an allied vessel from destruction by magnetic underwater mines during WWII. The generator shown was from Pittsbugh's street car system, relocated to MIT for use in Bitter's lab. This film is from the landmark Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) series of films. Sponsored by David Peters
'Meaning of Time in Science, The' (1973) 23m, dir. Kent Smith. Examines the concepts of the entropy principle and of astronomical time, the relation of subjective and external time, and the definition of a second. Includes demonstrations of scientific timepieces and of the cyclotron. Features producer Milan Herzog in cameo role as the director of a space project. Sponsored by George McQuilkin.
'Solar System, The' (1977, 2nd ed.) 20m, dir. Tom Smith. Tom Smith headed up the Special Effects team at Industrial Light & Magic, where he created all the goodies for the 'Star Wars' films. This is his academic film masterwork, which took over a year to create, over 13 weeks to film, and utilized "traveling mattes," with as many as five separate films running in the background, showcasing wonderful models and graphics. Sponsored by Tom Smith
'Transuranium Elements' (1962) 23m, dir. J. Arthur Campbell/Hal Geer, prod. David W. Ridgway. This classic film is hosted by Glenn Seaborg, Nobel Prize winner and discoverer of Plutonium. Here, he features three principal chemists in the discovery and identification of the transuranium elements, Burris Cunningham, Stanley Thompson and Albert Ghiorso. The film reviews methods and techniques for discovery and identification of transuranium elements. Sponsored by Pauline Derbyshire.