Monday, January 09, 2012

Oddball Films: One In A Million

Noting the rise of digital projection systems, Stephen Parr, director of Oddball Films introduced this evening with the claim that "Film is becoming a rarefied thing." We were then treated to a genre-defying selection of rickety, washed-out films from the Oddball archives in a program loosely exploring the theme of money. We saw the opening sequence of $, a 1970s bank heist film starring Warren Beatty & Goldie Hawn. The 1st shot, showing a dollar sign suspended from a crane, parodies the flying Jesus from La Doce Vita. The Disney studio does a terrible job of repurposing their old cartoons to inform us how to be good consumers in Buyer Be Wise. Trader Vic’s Used Cars is a terrific short documentary about used car salesman Victor Snyder, who is wonderfully old-school & has a great line in comic patter. My movie companion & I disagreed later about whether he was actually telling the truth about a sales prank.

The strangest item was an episode of Million Dollar Bowling, a 1950s TV game show in which extremely serious bowlers compete to earn up to a million dollars. Henry Mancini appears as one of the celebrity team captains. The Oddball audience got genuinely engaged in the contest, cheering at strikes & groaning at open frames. The Money Tree, an educational film set firmly in the body-conscious 1980s, is distressingly hopeless as it tells the story of a newlywed couple with too much consumer debt. In The Face of Lincoln, sculptor Merrell Gage molds a large head of Lincoln while narrating the president's life. It is weirdly entertaining, especially when the artist ages the portrait head as the life story progresses. The program ended with a minimally animated cartoon telling the Zen-like story of a poor stone cutter seduced by greed.

§ Oddball Films: One In A Million
Guest Curator, Soumyaa Kapil
$ (1971), opening sequence
Director: Richard Brooks

Buyer Be Wise (1982, animated)

Disney Cartoon

Trader Vic’s Used Cars (1976)

Director: Charles Braverman

Million Dollar Bowling (1950s TV)

The Money Tree (1983, educational)

Face of Lincoln (1955)

Director: Edward Freed

Tara the Stonecutter (1955, animated)

Director: John Wilson

Friday, January 6 at 8:00PM

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