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Der Stadtstreicher (1966)
A parody would be useless...
This short film doesn't need to have a parody, because it is almost a self-parody.
It's Fassbinder's earliest work, according to the IMDb. The problem is that while watching it, I couldn't help but think of two "Saturday Night Live" scenarios: "Sprockets" and Leonard Pinth-Garnell's "Truly Bad Cinema." Honest. I was expecting Dieter to pop up at any moment from the midst of the bushes at any moment, and at the end, Leonard Pinth-Garnell to pop up, saying, "Truly, truly awful. A brilliant example of bad acting." About the best that I can say for this is that the photography is pretty good.
The only reason I can think of to watch this is for the reason I did so: to see some of Fassbinder's earliest work. I can't say that I'm upset that I spent ten minutes of my life watching it, but if it had gone on for another twenty minutes, I would have been waiting to hear Tom Servo's commentary on MST3K at some point.
The Thrifty Pig (1941)
How to reuse your spare animation for a war cause
This short was produced for the Canadian government. During WWII, war bonds were a critical part of financing the army. (This was true in the US as well.) The Canadian government asked the Disney studio for a cartoon to promote them, but only had a very small budget.
The Disney folks kept the cost down by using existing footage of "The Three Little Pigs." There were only two real new animation pieces added. First, the third house's construction changed from red bricks to bricks made of war bonds. Second, the big bad wolf is now wearing some Nazi attire. Other than that, it's the same. Two of the houses are huffed and puffed down, etc.
The most interesting thing about this animation is realizing how ubiquitous this sort of low-grade propaganda was during WWII, if you didn't live through it.
Fall Out-Fall in (1943)
One of Disney's wartime best
What makes this particular cartoon great is that everyone watching it can empathize with Donald.
Donald portrays a WWII army soldier in training. He and his platoon go on a 40-plus mile hike.
He goes through all of the emotions which many of the GIs would have experienced. Even if you weren't a soldier, the idea of continually doing something until you're past exhaustion is something we can all relate to. It also shows the folks back home some of what training was like.
The animation, especially the backgrounds spoofing John Ford films, is beautifully done.
If you'd like to see more cartoons of this type, check out "Walt Disney on the Front Lines." This DVD collection includes over 30 short animation films. In addition, it includes the full-length feature "Victory through Air Power."
Sweet Hostage (1975)
Sometimes, great memories are best left untouched...
I remember watching this movie when it first came out. I was a high school freshman at the time (boy, does *that* date me!). I remember thinking this was one of the best romantic movies I'd ever seen. The box of kleenex was dragged out, my eyes were red, etc.
I spent about 15 years trying to find this movie when VCRs became rampant, and couldn't.
Lo and behold, there it was on eBay. It cost a lot more than I usually pay for a tape, but I'd looked so long that I decided to get it anyhow.
Now that I've seen it as a middle-aged woman, all I have to say is: this is a terrible movie! It's so bad that it's almost hilarious. The first three minutes give you an idea; Martin Sheen is in the courtyard of his Massachusetts mental institute, wearing a bathrobe and slippers, and telling the aides, "You may address me as Kubla Khan." It's all downhill from there, folks.
What redeems it? If you want to take it seriously, be a young female who's waiting for Prince Charming, as this film is a bizarre sort of wish fulfillments. If you *don't* want to take it seriously, there's Linda Blair in one of her more nymphette stages, and the young Martin Sheen looking as quite the stud muffin, so there's some eye candy for all genders. And, of course, there are a bunch of lines in the script that are so bad that you've got to burst into laughter.
I think the reason we couldn't find tapes of this film for so long is because Martin Sheen confiscated all of the original negatives. If Francis Ford Coppola had seen this, he would have never cast Martin Sheen for the lead in "Apocalypse Now." Fortunately, someone must have found one at a flea market and turned it into a video.
Ratings: If taken seriously: 3 If not taken seriously: 10