Tag Archives: 1970s

Cipher in the Snow (1973)

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Running time: 21m 20s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1973 (copyright); 1974 (release)
Director: Keith J. Atkinson
Production: Wetzel Whitaker, Brigham Young University
Writer: Carol Lynn Pearson
Cinematography: Reed Smoot, Ted Van Horn
Story: Jean Mizer Todhunter
Editor: Peter G. Czerny
Music Editor: Dennis Lisonbee

Cast: Robert Bridges, Bruce Kimball, Jacqueline Mayo, Roberta Shore, Walter Stocker, Mary Cox, Larry Watts, Martha Henstrom, Kirk Hutchings, Ronald Jenkins, Court LeRoy


During a school bus trip one morning, a sullen boy named Cliff Evans asks to be let off. The driver obliges and Cliff stumbles a few steps before face-planting in the snow (complete with a freeze-frame and title text). The driver of the car behind the bus —  a math teacher named Frank Carter — rushes to the boy’s aid as the oafish driver pleads disbelief. A crowd of kids exits the bus and assembles around their fallen peer, who is confirmed dead at the scene by EMTs. What could have caused this? Dehydration? A seizure? A drug overdose?

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The Occult: An Echo from Darkness (1972)

Distribution: A/V Geeks
Featured on: O is for Occult

Running time: 48m 00s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1972
Director: Tom Doades
Production: Pyramid Films, ECRF Production, Mal Couch
Writer: Tom Doades, Marshall Riggan
Photography/Camera: Jerry Callaway
Narration: Martin Brooks
Editor: Jim Ferguson

Cast: Hal Lindsey


Years before it was a hotbed of technological innovation and unaffordable housing, the San Francisco Bay Area was the “headquarters of occult and metaphysical activity in the United States.” This was a startling history lesson to me, but just one of many assertions by the creators of the 1972 religious short film, The Occult: An Echo from Darkness. If you like your anonymous talking head documentaries with ominous music and a hearty side of hard-line Satanic panic propaganda, this is the film of your factually dubious dreams.

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Booze and Yous (1977)

Watch on IU Media Collections Online

Institution: Indiana University
Collection: IUL Moving Image Archive

Running time: 14m 06s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1977
Film by: Ruth C. Engs, George W. Hales, Rowell Gorman, David J. Derkacy
Production: School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Indiana University
Educational Consultants: Ruth C. Engs, Ralph V. Larsson, David A. DeCoster, Phiip McPheron
Special Acknowledgements: Slaigers Pretense Theatre, Inc.
Film supported in part by a grant from: Beer Distributors of Indiana, Inc.


If there’s a maximum age at which we cease to learn concepts communicated by animated characters with funny voices, I haven’t seen it published anywhere. The 1977 educational film Booze and Yous, produced by Indiana University as part of an alcohol education program, sought to impart research-based facts about alcohol and its consumption upon its student body through a mixture of animation and live-action scenarios. The first step in doing this successfully may have been to use a caricature that resonated with the common 1970s college student — Ozzy Osbourne, anyone? — but the filmmakers decided on a rough facsimile of W.C. Fields, complete with red nose and an impression of his exaggerated drawl. Somehow, it works.

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Possibilities in Clay (1975)

Watch Now on IU Media Collections Online

Institution: Indiana University
Collection: IUL Moving Image Archive

Running time: 24m 51s
Year: 1975
Source film: 16mm; color; sound
Director: Phil Terman
Audio: Don Scales
Photography: Phil Stockton
Production: Indiana University Audio-Visual Center


There are many functional items you simply cannot produce using clay as your primary material. Skateboards, functional gyroscopes, and domestic cats are all well beyond the jurisdiction of the ceramist. In fact, there are far more things that are not clay-based than are. That said, the art and practice of ceramics — hardening material into form by firing it at extremely high temperatures — is thousands of years old and the medium of clay transcends culture, geography, and era. The 1975 short documentary Possibilities in Clay, produced by the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center, examines various expressions of the material through four portrayals of five different ceramics artists, each with his or her own philosophical approach to the craft of clay.

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Teddy (1971)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 16m 16s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1971
Director: Richard Wells
Production: Gary Schlosser; Peter Schniztler; University of California, Los Angeles – Extension Media Center;  National Institute of Mental Health
Photography/Camera: Robert Grant
Editor: Andrew Stein


The Social Seminar was a program sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and developed by the National Institute of Mental Health in the early 1970s that sought to provide a learning environment in which participants identified and established values and improved communication skills while participating in structured activities. From a cursory review of the resource manual provided to seminar facilitators (see: Related), it appears that much of the program was oriented around one of 19 short documentary films that were used as learning tools. They depicted all sorts of lives, from the acid-dropping California hippie to the television news reporter. At least six of the films were executive produced by Oscar-nominated short subject documentary filmmaker Gary Schlosser, so they had competent editing and camera-work that provided a coherent portrait of each film’s subject. Despite the program’s central aim of the prevention of drug abuse, not all of the films were strictly about drug consumption. 1971’s Teddy was one such film, focusing on a high school student in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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