Tag Archives: family

Cipher in the Snow (1973)

Watch on YouTube

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 Harry and Reba Swiff Collection: Family Celebrations (1956-1958)

Watch on Texas Archive of the Moving Image

Institution: Texas Archive of the Moving Image
Collection: Harry and Reba Swiff Collection

Running time: 16m 30s
Source film:  color; silent
Year: 1956 – 1958
Camera: Harry Swiff


When I was young — particularly during adolescence — the holiday season from roughly October through January seemed to unfold as a series of discrete events, each celebration marked by its own sights, smells, sounds, and flavors. The rest periods between them (i.e., school) always crawled at a snail’s pace, allowing the anticipation for each to build to proper crescendo. In adulthood, though, that illusion has eroded with each passing year. These same holidays now occur as a blurry blob of celebratory activity, with beginnings and endings almost entirely indistinguishable if not for the correlating bank statements and smartphone images that neatly divide by monthly markers.

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Christmas Rhapsody (1948)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 11m 00s
Source film:  16mm; b&w; sound
Year: 1948
Production: Encyclopaedia Britannica Films; Milan Herzog
Music: Charles Henry


Loneliness, sugar crashes, and increased alcohol consumption can all exacerbate the blue feelings that many people feel during the winter holiday season. As evidenced by the sad musings of the central character in the 1948 short Christmas Rhapsody, it can also be a real thing for at least one species of evergreen tree.

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It’s a Cat’s Life (1957)

Watch on Archive.org

Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 10m 57s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: ca. 1957
Director: Emily Benton Frith
Production: Frith Films; Cinesound (sound)
Photography/Camera: Emily Benton Frith
Narration: George Barclay


Let’s face it. Historically, cats have sometimes had a bad rap. Sure, some civilizations have worshipped them – but others have associated them with the devil or witchcraft, shunning them (or worse). Their occasional disinterest in, or independence of humans is bitterly qualified as aloof or detached. As though a pet not constantly concerned with lavishing attention on humans (looking at you, dogs) is kind of a jerk. But if you want to soften any person’s heart towards the feline variety, all you really need to do is give them ten straight minutes of baby kittens frolicking. And It’s a Cat’s Life (1957) does just that.

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A Cruel Kindness (1968)

Watch on Wellcome Library

Institution: Wellcome Library
Collection: Moving Image and Sound Collection

Running time: 13m 4s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1968
Director: Winifred Holmes
Production: Verity Films; Oswalk Skilbeck; Film Producers Guild; Film Centre International Ltd; British Life Assurance Trust for Health Education; British Medical Association
Writer: Winifred Holmes
Photography: Jonah Jones
Editor: Anthony Ham


Nutritional guides have been prone to wild fluctuations and rearrangements over the past several decades, vary sharply by country, and have been influenced by everything from scientific studies and wartime rationing to the agriculture industry and food prices. Thank goodness for 1968’s A Cruel Kindness, then, which makes such a guide as basic as can be. According to writer/director Winifred Holmes’s film, the three food groups are carbohydrates (“energy”), fat (“warmth”), and protein (“for growth”). And sometimes, small quantities of vitamins. The filmmakers make no effort to explain what benefits this last group provides, likely because no documentary team wants to bore viewers with a discussion about watercress. We get it — it’s really good for you! Enough already, watercress. You’re almost as insufferable as kale.

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