For whatever reason I continue to love vintage intermission compilation videos from eras of cinema long since passed, it’s among my oddest personal cinema pleasures if certainly not the most mainstream one. Just give me some rotating candy bars, puffed jumbo close-ups of popcorn porn pressing against the fourth wall of my TV screen and animated, anthropomorphic snack foods dancing and cavorting about to peppy pipe organ music and you have witnessed the most insane G rated images on film that still continue to somehow completely captivate me. Whether I enjoy them honestly for their simple childlike whimsy or ironically for the simple realization of their relentless, desperate pleas to encourage theater goers to buy unhealthy and overpriced food “AT ONCE” is anyone’s guess. All I know is that with every new Volume of “Hey, Folks It’s Intermission time” I find myself looking forward to the hour and a half of “sugar over substance” commercials with more quiet eagerness even though I fully concede that for most intents and purposes it is almost the EXACT same damn film every time right down to the cover art. But admittedly what film series isn’t a little derivative by the time it reaches its fourth installment? Remember, Star Wars was all but ruined forever by its fourth (released) film.
Unique eyebrow raising culture clash moments unique to this volume that deliciously conflict with modern sensibility are as follows. There is the “Bread is Good” theme song which encourages the purchase of more bread and bakery related goods from back in the day before people feared “carbs”. There is the “Keep Em Rolling” war cartoon song which could have only been made during WW2 that encourages consumer thrift, hard work, and patriotism to help the American war effort against the Nazis. Perhaps the most unbelievable was the friendly suggestion that all movie patrons try to restrict their smoking to the lobby. Another short suggests that crying babies should be taken to the lobby as well. Perhaps all that second hand cigarette smoke somehow helped calm all those crying babies down? We can only hope. My favorite however was the special Holiday film suggestion that people should “Bring Pop out to enjoy the big show Thanksgiving Day and let Mom stay home and prepare the turkey”. The admittedly sexist tableau from yesteryear of hypothetical children taking their dad out to a movie while the mother cheerfully stays home and prepares a gigantic meal for everyone touches me deep inside and makes me secretly wish I had started a family of my own in a way that few things ever have before.(I guess I am just a sucker for tradition).
Of course there are lots of guest spots featuring film stars from Hollywood’s Golden age begging us to give generously to their favorite charity: Jack Lemon encourages us to buy Easter Seals, Doris Day urges us to support The Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” drive and a very young Jerry Lewis asks for our donations to help fight Muscular Dystrophy. Jack Webb wants us to give to Easter Seals. James Cagney shills for the National War fund and none other than John Wayne himself requests a donation to the Will Rogers institute. These always make me a little sad because watching all these long deceased people encouraging others to give to medical causes just seems kind of futile, but then again perhaps it’s a high minded commentary about the ultimate meaning of life having to do with helping others? Then again, most of these charities haven’t ultimately cured any of the diseases or solved any of the social ills they were supposed to half a century later, now in 2013. But maybe I am overthinking this? At least no one is dying from tuberculosis in developed countries anymore? So at least there is that. Yay, Easter Seals!
All of this isn’t sweet as concession stand candy however. The ads from previous volumes are starting to reappear in this one and for the first time in any volume a Fanta commercial was repeated in its entirety minutes apart. For those of you who like truly classic commercials, It’s got some big budget vintage Christmas ads from Budweiser and Coke that are honestly a little inspirational that truly capture the American consumer spirit, and not just our nationwide tendency toward encouraging obesity, diabetes and alcoholism.
With some reluctance I will say the same thing I have been saying in closing for each of these volumes though I always hate to do that in the summation of a review. You probably want to own at least one of these purely for the kitsch value and the nostalgia factor, and Volume Four makes the best choice thus far if you are going to watch it this time of year. There was a neat holiday vibe which included vintage Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Shorts and no other holidays whatsoever. This made it seem strangely serendipitous for the week I watched it and, as such, it was a better experience than any disk of filler material, advertisements, and shameless showcasing of discontinued products, dead stars, and defunct small town businesses had any right to be.