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Primary Source

Our Secret Century: Volumes 1 and 2: The Rainbow is Yours and Capital Realism.

Contents: 1. The rainbow is yours -- 2. Capitalist realism. In vol. 1, seven color films explore how 1950s glitz 'n' glamour seduced Americans into an obsession with the look of designed objects; includes "American Look," the definitive Populuxe film, and General Motors' 1956 motorama musical, "Design for dreaming." In vol. 2, two black-and-white 1930s industrial films attempt to humanize the face of mass production, very much like Soviet propaganda, and "Valley Town" tells the story of a depressed steel town. Presented by Richard Prelinger. (CD-ROM for Macintosh)

Our Secret Century: Volumes 3 and 4: The behavior offensive and Menace and jeopardy.

Contents: 1. The behavior offensive -- 2. Menace and jeopardy. In vol. 3, nine comic and creepy social-guidance classics document the postwar social crusade to instill family values, 1950s style. Highlights: Are you popular?, Shy guy, and Habit patterns. In vol. 4, seven safety films shot between 1936 and 1962, lecture about the perils of haste and carelessness. Classics of this genre include Time out for trouble, More dangerous than dynamite, and Safety belt for Susie. Presented by Richard Prelinger. (CD-ROM for Macintosh)

Our Secret Century: Volumes 5 and 6: Teenage transgression and The Uncharted landscape.

Contents: 1. Teenage transgression -- 2. The Uncharted landscape. In vol. 5, six movies explore the not-so-golden years of the late fifties and early sixties. White and Chicano gangs in working class L.A. call a truce in Gang Boy. Robert's downward spiral in The Dropout includes a stint in the malt shop waiting on his one-time peers and The Terrible truth is that nice girls get hooked on "horse". Vol. 6 is a rare visual record of the changing face of urban and rural America, the blank slate upon which fantasies of growth and prosperity were enacted.

Our Secret Century: Volumes 7 and 8: Gender Roll Call and Tireless Marketers.

Contents: 1. Gender Roll Call -- 2. Tireless Marketers. Vol. 7, considers how and when girls and boys learn to be true to their sex in the inflexible fifties. The Home Economics story points out that "cooking is practically applied chemistry," and dinette doubles as darkroom when Mike's photographer wife solves those pesky two-career problems by quitting her job. Vol. 8 documents the growth of mass advertising and its migration from movie theaters to television.

The Satellite Sky (The American Experience)

Film and television clips from the 1950's tell the story of the beginning of space exploration. 1990. 58 min.

The Unforgettable Fifties: The Newsreels 1: Human Interests.

Human Interests. A film on the popular culture of the 1950s beginning with footage of children followed by films of animals. Includes newsreels of beauty contests of children and women and concludes with novelties and popular entertainments like the circus, yo-yo games, water fights, car and boat shows, underwater boxing, and more. Contents: Kids of the fifties (13 min.) -- Animals of the fifties (16 min.) -- Ladies of the fifties (8 min.) -- Fun of the fifties (20 min.). 57 min. 1996.

The Unforgettable Fifties: The Newsreels 2: Disasters.

Presents disasters of the 1950's including the power of hurricanes, tornadoes, snowstorms, floods, earthquakes, avalanches, shipwrecks and landslides. Also includes newreel footage of airplane crashes, train wrecks and fire and gas explosions. Contents: Plane crashes of the fifties (13 min.) -- Train wrecks of the fifties (4 min.) -- Nature's fury in the fifties (22 min.) -- Shipwrecks in the fifties (5 min.) -- Fire in the fifties (8 min.) -- Landslides and explosions in the fifties (6 min.). 58 min. 1996.

The Unforgettable Fifties: The Newsreels 3: Inventions.

Starts with new items in underwater trucks and moves on to motorcycles, bicycles, moving sidewalks, elevators, robots and future cars. Includes new aviation and speed achievements in sky rockets, the B-47 and B-52 bombers, a car plane, helicopters and supersonic jets and the newest in speed boats, jet cars and boats and new kinds of weapons including tanks, rifles, jets, guided missiles and atomic submarines. Contents: Gadgets of the fifties (21 min.) -- Aviation news in the fifties (18 min.) -- Speed in the fifties (9 min.) -- Weapons of the fifties (9 min.). 57 min. 1996.