Monkeys on Bikes and Nuclear Turtles: Highlights from the Prelinger Archives

The Prelinger Archives are a collection of public domain “ephemeral” films collected by Rick Prelinger since 1983. In 2002, a large portion of the collection was acquired by the Library of Congress. Prelinger still holds some of these titles, however, and thanks to The Internet Archive, they can be seen online in Quicktime or Real format.

These films are so unique and weird, that I thought a thread celebrating them was in order. I’ll be linking to the descriptive page of the film, where you can stream or download it by following the links. If other Dopers find a great gem, add to the thread.

Here’s some to start out with:
Duck And Cover (Archer Prods. for U.S. Government, 1954)
What better place to start than this Cold War classic? Burt the Turtle knows what to do when a Commie bomb is blasted and you’re not in the epicenter…just duck and cover!

A Case of Spring Fever (Jam Handy for Chevrolet, 1940)
You MST3K fans might be familiar with this one. Before Jar Jar and Scrappy, there was Coily. A man badmouths springs, so to teach him a lesson, Coily the spring sprite gets rid of them all. Whenever the man tries to use something with springs, Coily laughs, “No springs! Heh heh heh!” The second half of the film has the man telling his friends about all the uses of springs…particularly their importance in a certain brand of automobile.

Just Imagine… (Jam Handy for Bell System, 1947)
A film with no point. Really. A man is stumped on how to show the audience that it takes 433 parts from all 48 states to make a phone. A phone-shaped fellow takes labels off the states, puts them into a hopper, and a telephone assembles itself. Once it’s done, the man passes it off as movie magic. The phone agrees that the pictures are the only place it can be done that way. The End.

Stop Driving Us Crazy (Creative Arts for Methodist Church, circa 1959)
A car-shaped, surprisingly Christian, Martian travels to Earth and is shocked at how reckless Earthling drivers are. At the end of the film, he does an amazingly un-Christian thing…goes back home and lets the Earthlings figure it out for themselves.

One Got Fat (Interlude Films, 1963)
Edward Everett Horton narrates this film about bicycle safety about a bunch of monkeys (actually, kids in bad monkey masks) who bike to the park. All but one is either killed or seriously injured (depending on how you look at it) for failure to comply with basic bike safety rules.

A Visit to Santa (Clem Williams Films, circa 1963)
A low-budget adventure in Santa’s workshop, featuring a crappy elevator effect (“Wasn’t that fun?”) and Santa ending this adventure with a one-sentence description of the True Meaning of Christmas.

The Your Name Here Story (Calvin Communications, date unknown)
A parody of corporate promotional films. Our narrator tells us all-purpose films like this will be common in the future. The film features a history of the United States, from John Hancock signing the Declaration of Independence (and running out of ink just after he writes the “J”) to the miraculous discovery of (your product here) by the scientists at (your name here). (your product here) is a miraculous invention that will, among other things, give you the closest shave possible, make you popular, and give you pure smoking satisfaction. (your company’s president here) and his/her employees are following in the footsteps of such great Americans as George Washington, Abe Lincoln (use Robert E. Lee if desired), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (use Dwight D. Eisenhower if desired).

Hope you enjoy these films, and find some treasures of your own.

Check out “Are You Popular?”, that one is pretty funny.

This film didn’t really amuse me that much, but what the heck, I’ll put it in my form:

Are You Popular? (Coronet Films, 1947)
Too bad Ginny doesn’t know that popularity isn’t measured by how many boys you park in cars with. Everybody likes Caroline…but why? Why not? She’s well-organized, friendly, and polite. This film is so popular, Prelinger himself is sick of it! What would Caroline think?

I keep getting a message that says “Outdated link or inaccurate.”. :frowning: