A rah-rah-war movie in which an apparent simpleton with amazing gun skills (Gary Cooper) falls for a pretty girl (Joan Leslie), wins a turkey shooting contest, gets screwed out of some land he wants to buy, gets hit by lightning, and is convinced by his pastor (Walter Brennan) to chill out on the drinking. Then the army comes calling, and tricks poor Gary into believing that the bible justifies killing for your country, so Gary goes off to war and captures a whole flock of enemy troops.

Not that we didn’t enjoy watching Cooper mow down Germans. It’s a well-paced movie full of fun characters, which makes up for Cooper, who is very bad at playing drunk and speaking with hick accents.

Playing Coop’s serious little brother, Dickie Moore’s child-actor career was winding down while Joan Leslie’s was just taking off. York’s barely-seen sister June Lockhart went on to be an anti-war activist, then appear in C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud. All three were the same age, less than half of Cooper’s.

Dickie:

Joan:

Pol Pot’s Birthday (2004, Talmage Cooley)
In 1985, the scrappy dictator’s men throw him a super-weak budget surprise birthday party, with grey cake and music on an old tape player. Awkward conversation ensues… P-P gets peed on by a dog and “Walking On Sunshine” plays over the credits. Kim Rew got paid?
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Meet King Joe (1949, John Sutherland)
More generic propaganda with no direct sense of purpose. Joe is “the king of the workers of the world” because here in America, competition and investment in infrastructure make our jobs easier with more disposable income than anywhere else. Take that, dirt-poor chinaman! Statistics to be proud of: “Americans own practically all the refrigerators in existence. Bathtubs? We’ve got 92% of them.”
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Hymn to Merde (2009, Leos Carax)
I agree that Merde/Lavant is wonderful to watch, but Carax doesn’t seem to know what to do with him. Protracted death-sentence courtroom drama wasn’t it, nor is a lo-res music video of him singing a Kills song translated into his own head-slapping language.
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.tibbaR (2004, Leo Wentink)
Eerie music and nervous sound effects accompany time-remapped footage of lab rabbit breeding. I never know why anything is happening in short films anymore.
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Go! Go! Go! (1964, Marie Menken)
So damn jittery it gave me an eye-ache, exactly what I was getting away from the computer in order to avoid. All nervous time-lapse footage shot around the city. Some real nice high-angle shots of construction sites and traffic patterns, superimpositions on a wedding, lots of boats and bridges. Color/picture looked perfect on my tube TV.
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The Spook Speaks (1940, Jules White)
Not-at-all-good short full of corny sound effects and sub-stooges gags, but it’s better than the others I’ve watched on these DVDs since it has a roller-skating penguin. Buster’s costar Elsie Ames (she was in most of these shorts, then showed up 30 years later in Minnie & Moskowitz for some reason) is terrible, but then, Buster is terrible too. Thanks Sony for slapping warnings and disclaimers and legal shit before every short on the disc. They must’ve known it wouldn’t get tiresome because we’d only watch one before quitting.
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Who Am I? (1989, Faith Hubley)
Things morph into other things, illustrating the five (or six or seven) senses. Short!
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Blake Ball (1988, Emily Hubley)
Didn’t love the narration in this one. The woman who says “some are born to sweet delight/some are born to endless night” (without the preceding lines) has got nothing on Nobody. I guess all the lines are the words of William Blake, but they’re not making much of an impact, and I never figured out Blake’s connection to all the baseball stuff. There’s more five senses stuff anyway. A bit too laboriously new-agey, but some great moments (like below).
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O Dreamland (1953, Lindsay Anderson)
Boy did I ever botch the Free Cinema box set, buying it then deciding I didn’t want to watch it after all and letting it sit on the shelf for years. Finally checked this out and I kinda really like it. Could do without the evil laughing clown all over the soundtrack. Kind of like Jean Vigo’s À propos de Nice which, given If….‘s resonance with Zero For Conduct, proves Anderson saw a Vigo retrospective at some point.

Poyraz (2006, Belma Bas)
Rural people sure live quaint and handsomely photographed lives!
Nuri Bilge Ceylan was thanked in the credits

Why Play Leapfrog (1949, John Sutherland/MGM)
Let’s hear it for capitalism! Clever cartoon describes why inflation is okay and raw material costs don’t mean much. A boring explanation of why America is so darned great that ends by telling factory workers to be more efficient and come up with smart cost-saving ideas which will lead to greater pay increases.

Balance (1989, Christoph & Wolfgang Lauenstein)
Ominous stop-motion – five mute guys with numbers on their shirts and telescoping fishing poles in their shirts are on a balanced platform suspended in space. One catches a sort of music box and the others get greedy, leading to a fight which ends with one guy on the far end of the platform from the box.

Broken Down Film (1985, Osamu Tezuka)
It’s a popeye-like cowboy cartoon except that the film’s projection problems (hair in the gate, scratches, countdown leader, etc) are part of the story. Cute.

and a few from the Unseen Cinema box set…

Paris Exposition Films (1900, James White)
Some one-minute films at the Eiffel Tower a decade after its construction. Best part is this guy on the left side of the screenshot. People were walking up to the camera and this guy saw his chance for stardom, so he prepares himself for some manuever (maybe a backflip) but blows it, stopping instead to shake hands with an acquaintance offscreen as the film runs out.
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Captain Nissen Going Through Whirlpool Rapids, Niagara Falls (1901, Edison Co.)
It takes longer to type the title than to watch the film, which is of some submarine-looking craft bobbing in a river. Found a wonderful tale online of Nissen’s stupid death four years later, but unsure if it’s true.
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Down The Hudson (1903, Frederick Armitage & AE Weed)
Much more interesting than the submarine thing – New York riverfront over a hundred years ago. I assume lots more of this stuff will be on disc five.
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The Ghost Train (1903)
Oooh, someone learned to invert the black/white image AND to matte a moon into the upper corner. This is one of my favorites because it is neat-looking and twenty seconds long. If only you could say the same for Transformers 2.
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Westinghouse Works, Panorama View, Street Car Motor Room (1904, Billy Bitzer)
Long factory tracking shot reminds me of the beginning of Manufactured Landscapes. Unlike in ML, all the workers stop and look at the camera.
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In Youth, Beside the Lonely Sea (1925-ish)
Crazy three-panel layout illustrating the poem told with text above and below the picture. Lots of ghostly superimpositions. This was so damn cool I had to lay down for a while.
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