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|Norman Rockwell's World... An American Dream [VHS]
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List price: $19.95
Rockwell himself narrates this Academy Award®-winning film, the only authorized video portrait of one of America's most beloved illustrators. Through the use of archival film footage, dramatic reenactments, and the artist's work, this program shows how Rockwell faithfully recorded the world around him and reflected the aspirations and concerns of a whole generation. To own this program is to own a piece of American history.
Riding their bicycles through the streets of their Massachusetts hometown, the elderly Norman Rockwell and wife appear to be living the idealized life depicted in his famous illustrations. Indeed, Rockwell's voiceover in this 1972 biography describes an idyllic childhood, extreme neighborliness ("There's almost nobody in town I haven't painted."), and the desire for a happy life ("I painted the way I would like life to be."). This Academy Award winner for best short subject uses reenactments, old film footage, and plenty of Rockwell's famous paintings to illustrate the philosophy and artistic life of the man who, for many, created the image of what American life should be. In a short 24 minutes, viewers get to see his vast chronicling of the 1950s and '60s on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post, from the heroic to the mundane, from John F. Kennedy's election to a child's haircut. Through his commentary, as with his artwork, Rockwell's appreciation of people is evident. He even finds understanding for the hippies of his time when he says, "Underneath their floral arrangements, they're just the same people." --Kimberly Heinrichs
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KOYAANISQATSI means Life Out of Balance in the Hopi language.
First-time filmmaker Godfrey Reggio's experimental documentary from 1983--shot mostly in the desert Southwest and New York City on a tiny budget with no script, then attracting the support of Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas and enlisting the indispensable musical contribution of Philip Glass--delighted college students on the midnight circuit and fans of minimalism for many years. Meanwhile, its techniques, merging cinematographer Ron Fricke's time-lapse shots (alternately peripatetic and hyperspeed) with Glass's reiterative music (from the meditative to the orgiastic)--as well as its ecology-minded imagery--crept into the consciousness of popular culture. The influence of Koyaanisqatsi, or "life out of balance," has by now become unmistakable in television advertisements, music videos, and, of course, in similar movies such as Fricke's own Chronos and Craig McCourry's Apogee. Reggio shot a sequel, Powaqqatsi (1988), and is planning to complete the trilogy with Naqoyqatsi. Koyaanisqatsi provides the uninitiated the chance to see where it all started--along with an intense audiovisual rush. --Robert Burns Neveldine
|The Compleat Beatles [VHS]
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List price: $14.95
This documentary chronicles the career of the "Fab Four".
|The Story of English, Programs 1-9 [VHS]
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List price: $99.95
Encompassing history, geography, sociology, drama, language, arts, and more, The Story of English takes viewers on an unforgettable journey through the history of the English language. Host Robert MacNeil travels the world to illustrate the language's global influence. Part travelogue, part linguistics, part history, and all fascinating, the series is a unique blend of solid scholarship and engrossing entertainment.
|A Hot Dog Program [VHS]
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List price: $11.99
This fun documentary called A Hot Dog Program looks at one of America’s favorite foods and shows some places around the country where you can get wonderful wieners. From Coney Island on the Fourth of July to Alaska at the start of the Iditarod sled dog race, we talk to some hot dog connoisseurs along the way. In Chicago, the dogs are dressed heavily; in Macon, Georgia, the wieners are bright red; and in Las Vegas, they’re huge. You can get a Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, Connecticut, a deep fried "ripper" at Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, New Jersey, and a snappy slay dog at Frank’s in Columbia, South Carolina.
Let's be frank: Sausage connoisseurs will watch A Hot Dog Program with relish. Boiled, broiled, steamed, fried, or grilled, get your hot dogs here! A meal, a snack, a guilty pleasure, hot dogs are "as close as we'll get to a national dish," the narrator observes. And unlike their burger counterparts, hot dog stands have not become standardized or franchised. "They are still small, regional, and unique."
A Hot Dog Program tours the United States in search of establishments that inspire motorists to take hot dog detours, from the Super Duper Wiener truck located off Exit 24 on I-95 in Fairfield, Connecticut, to the Coney Island in Denver--33 tons of concrete shaped like an enormous hot dog. Viewers also get a taste of the local flavor served up by the Varsity ("What'llyahave? What'llyahave?") in Atlanta, Georgia, Superdawg in Chicago, Nathan's Famous in New York, and Pink's in Los Angeles, where legend has it that Orson Welles ate 18 hot dogs in one sitting, and where Ruth Buzzi makes a brief oncamera appearance.
A Hot Dog Program is a celebration of hot dogs and the people who love them ("It's the ultimate food," exults one diner), and who have made their hot dog joint their hangout from adolescence into adulthood, although those not stern of stomach may want to fast-forward through the sequence that shows how hot dogs are made.
For more time-capsule Americana, check out Great Old Amusement Parks and An Ice Cream Show. --Donald Liebenson
|National Geographic's Really Wild Animals: Secret Weapons and Great Escapes [VHS]
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List price: $8.00
Your top-secret mission: Detect and inspect the hidden weapons of the animal world with Spin, National Geographic's animated globe-on-the-go. Your undercover investigation reveals how skunks say "go away!" with a smelly spray, why a cobra's bite is such a fright, and how lizards are wizards at capturing bugs with their long, sticky tongues! Spin even gets under the skin of the not-so-tasty tomato frog, which oozes a goo that can glue a snake's mouth shut! Get the inside scoop on the SECRET WEAPONS AND GREAT ESCAPES that help animals survive. It's just one of the many Really Wild Animals adventures in this award-winning series.
This entry in the Really Wild Animals series is a fast-paced introduction to animals' hidden defenses. Spin, an animated globe voiced by Dudley Moore, sets the scene by assigning the viewer a secret mission--to find and examine the hidden weapons of animals.
Spin leads his young detectives on an exploration of eight categories of secret weapons: bluffing, changing shape, smell, athlete's feet, the spurt that hurts, frog skin, poison-tipped harpoon, and venom. Well-chosen examples include the fake eyes of the owl butterfly, the scent glands of the skunk, and the tomato frog's ability to stretch its skin and ooze an oil that can glue a snake's jaws shut for two days.
Interspersed between animal segments are comical interludes including tongue-in-cheek advertisements such as the one suggesting that "Uncle Spin wants you to join the ant brigade," and entertaining music videos.
Spin examines islands in the second half of the video--specifically, unique island ecosystems that have formed as a result of geographic isolation. Informative segments on the lemurs of Madagascar, the iguanas of the Galapagos Islands, and other island-specific anomalies alternate with comic "commercials" about the "amazing ecosystem" and an "emergency broadcast system" test for determining if you're a marsupial.
Beautiful nature photography, a wealth of information, and comic relief abound in this 47-minute video that will have both kids and adults engrossed throughout repeated screenings. --Tami Horiuchi
|Little Duck Tale [VHS]
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List price: $14.98
A weird and charming story of a mother duck and her brood, A Little Duck Tale follows the family as they try to get from a man-made pond in the heart of Tokyo's business district to a moat in the Imperial Palace, just 200 meters away. The problem? A major freeway makes up the bulk of that distance. Uh-oh! As they try and try again, as Mama teaches her little ones to swim and walk, as dozens of news photographers surround them, we get a sense of the difficulties faced by wild animals forced to live in an artificial environment. It's no surprise that they do manage to find the moat, but the fun doesn't stop there. Now the ducklings must learn to fly, and Mom harasses and bullies them into the air. Surviving typhoon, rising water levels, and the dreaded swan attack, the young ducks take flight at last and wave good-bye to the emperor, the media, and us. --Rob Lightner
|Biography - Betty Grable: Behind the Pin-Up [VHS]
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List price: $19.95
She starred in over 100 films, and at one point was the highest-paid performer in Hollywood. But it seems she will always be better known for her legs!Her pin-up inspired millions of American GIs in World War II. The classic image of the beautiful long-legged woman appeared on everything from footlockers to airplanes. Yet she played as important a role in the history of Hollywood as she did in the war effort. In this definitive BIOGRAPHY, interviews with friends Alice Faye, Debbie Reynolds, and Carol Burnett illustrate the life and personality of Betty Grable. Spectacular film footage of the Technicolor queen shows why she was the number one box office star of the '40s. And never-before-seen outtakes of the star at work offer a view behind the pin-up.Join BIOGRAPHY for the complete story of Betty Grable whose legs helped win the war, and whose talent conquered Hollywood.
|Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers (Six Pack) [VHS]
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An exhilarating journey into the mind and spirit of a remarkable man, a legendary teacher, and a masterful storyteller, conducted by TB journalist Bill Moyers in the acclaimed PBS series. 1. The Hero's Adventure- Long before medieval knights charged off to slay dragons, tales of heroic adventures were an integral part of all world cultures. Campbell challenges everyone to see the presence of a heroic journey in his or her own life. 2. The Message of the Myth- Campbell compares the creation story in Genesis with Creation stories from around the world. Because the world changes, religion has to be transformed and new mythologies created. People today are stuck with myths that don't fit their needs. 3. The First Storytellers- Campbell discusses the importance of accepting death as rebirth as in the myth of the buffalo and the story of Christ, the rite of passage in primitive societies, the role of mystical Shamans, and the decline of ritual in today's society. 4. Sacrifice and Bliss- Campbell discusses the role of sacrifice in myth, which symbolizes the necessity for rebirth. He stresses the need for every one of us to find our sacred place in the midst of today's fast-paced, technological world. 5. Love and the Goddess- Campbell talks about romantic love, beginning with the 12th century troubadours, and addresses questions about the image of woman- as goddess, virgin, Mother Earth. 6. Masks of Eternity- Campbell provides challenging insights into the concepts of God, religion and eternity, as revealed in Christian teachings and the beliefs of Buddhists, Navajo Indians, Schopenhauer, Jung and others.
|Castle Ghosts of Ireland [VHS]
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List price: $29.99
Ireland, the land of saints and scholars, of poets and fairies, is also a country of legends and myths. Castle Ghosts of Ireland is a journey to this land rich in mystery and ancient lore. This fascinating program explores the eerie halls of Leap Castle, Castle Leslie and Castle Matrix, where a history of the supernatural and an aura of mysticism abound.
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