Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Winter of the Witch" and other elusive classroom short films

While neither Brian nor I remember "Winter of the Witch," we love this story (by the very cool Jennifer Mendelsohn) because it's EXACTLY what our book gets at. That one nagging memory that you slowly, over years, convince yourself you dreamed, or that somehow you were the only one it happened to. And then when you find a kindred spirit who remembers it (or open our book and find it there), it's EUPHORIA! Like finally scratching that out-of-reach itch.
"Winter of the Witch" was a 1969 short that a lot of kids saw in school, and it later haunted their minds for decades. Magic trippy pancakes! Further proof that filmmakers like the Kroffts were far from alone in their unique Sixties craziness.

Did you see it? Or is there another film, maybe seen in school, maybe not, that occasionally seeks out the corners of your mind? Post it here and we'll put our retro community minds to work!

I'll start us off with mine:

In second grade, we had to watch a short about how to use the phone. I don't remember much about it except I can totally visualize the interior of that house in my mind even today, and I think the kids were taught to answer it "Johnson residence, Kim speaking" or whatever their names were. And I wanted to answer OUR phone all fancy that way but no one did it at our house and looking back, why were kids encouraged to tell total strangers and possible pervs their real name anyway? I know, I know, different times. Can anyone find this short online for me? Would love to see it again


Cyntada said...

I recall a school movie about a boy born with no arms. It was a documentary about how he got through his day and at the end of the film, he receives prostetic arms. Seems like I saw that film every rainy lunch period from 1974-1980. Thankfully, where I went to school, it doesn't rain very often!

Peggy said...

There was a film shown to swimming students about giving mouth-to-mouth. One of the stories in it involves a boy who is buried in a big pile of sand or dirt. It freaked me out. Still kinda does to think about.

Stephanie said...

At Jefferson Elementary in Minneapolis, it seemed to be a requirement that we had to watch the urban, kitty-snuff film "J.T." every. Damn. Year.

J.T. was a little African American kid who was very poor. He gets terrorized by mean boys and then he finds a stray cat. He takes care of this cat, even sharing what little food he has with it. Then the mean boys find the cat and it runs into the street and gets hit by a car.

After that, J.T. is given a kitten by his mom for Christmas. WHICH DIDN'T MAKE IT ANY BETTER.

I used to have to leave the room during this film and I still hate it. It still haunts me.

Clearly, I have issues.

Matt said...

One word: Clown.

Melissa said...

While I have vivid memories of seeing Old Yeller in my elementary school gym, the odd clip that has stuck with me was from a film (filmstrip?) about how to navigate your library. But, only because it had a catchy tune (L-I-B-R-A-R-Y, the library) which STILL helps me spell that word.

Also, not film, but not too long ago I was trying to figure out the names of some books I remember reading in elementary school, and I found this site:

Stump the Bookseller

which was awesomely helpful.

Stephanie said...

Ooh, and here's another one -- though I think we only watched it once? -- that only one other person I know remembers: "You Can Do It Duffy Moon."

Granted, the title might have been "Duffy Moon," but the whole "you can do it" was rampant throughout the entire movie.

I have no memory what that movie was even about.

Brian said...

Four films from school really stick in my mind. One was perhaps the first film I ever saw in a classroom, about a boy who gets hit by a car. As a first-grader I was pretty freaked out (and that I think was the point). The second was about how to save somebody from choking; the guy choked on fried chicken and I refused to eat chicken for months afterward. The third was about a school bus that crashed after kids were goofing off and distracting the driver; the final scene was of the bus being pulled out of a river. The final film I'm mentioning only because my junior high school showed it several times a year for some reason: "A Light in the Forest," about a young white man who had been raised by Indians in the 1700s. Not a bad film -- it's just that they showed it all... the... time.

Dimestore Lipstick said...

"The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon". It was originally an ABC Afterschool Special.

I had such crushes on Ike Eisenmann and Lance Kerwin, and they were BOTH in it! Almost more than my 12-year-old heart could stand.

Duffy Moon thinks his new abilities come from the book he bought,but he eventually figures out the power comes from within.

My niggly grade-school movie memories include "Paddle to the Sea" Carol Burnett in "Once Upon a Mattress" (the 1964 version) and the Christmas favorite, Johnnie Whittaker and insanely awesome supporting cast in "The Littlest Angel".

Doug said...

We could always tell if our teachers couldn't get the film they originally wanted if we watched a "Hot Dog" film. These were short (ten minutes, maybe?) films, and I seem to recall they were a short vignette about learning a lesson or something. But they were meant to be funny, so we never learned anything.

We always knew we were watching a Hot Dog movie if the teacher spun on a really short reel onto the projector.

*not to be confused with the 1984 movie "Hot Dog".

Deanna said...

I bet the phone film you're referencing is "Telzonia!" It haunted my memory for years until I finally ferreted it out on YouTube a few years ago. Here it is!

Sylkozakur said...

I remember a film about beavers and how hard ray work and then there was an interlude with otters and how they don't ork hard at all and all hey do is play and it made me think otters were way better than beavers.

There was also a history video about the early American settlers & the teenage girl who gets kidnapped by the Native Americans was Lalla Ward from Doctor Who. I was th only on riveted to the screen because no one owe knew who she was.

Sarah said...

Oh jeez - there was this one info-movie about babysitting, and there was a little boy named Johnny in it, and the second half of the movie was basically ALL THE TERRIBLE THINGS that could happen to an unsupervised toddler. It ended with a shot of a swimming pool, glinting ominous in the sun, and the (deep) narrator voice whispering, "Where's Johnny?"

Well. Either Johnny or Danny, because I just googled the former and nothing relevant came up. Whatever name it was, that thing gave me nightmares. Actual, real nightmares - my mother said that for the next week I was sleepwalking, looking through closets, muttering, "Where's Johnny?/Danny?/whatever." Gah!