Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is the most successful film overall, though perhaps not the most visceral (when push comes to shove, warm family comedy doesn’t have the same immediate impact as car crashes, rape, werewolves tearing people apart—in case you were wondering, the car crashes et. al. refers to Not Quite Hollywood). In fact, the visuals in Yoo-Hoo… are probably its weakest part. It’s one of those documentaries in which generic footage is used, which always feels like a cheat no matter how well intentioned. In addition, one is never always sure which generic footage is really generic and which are not. But Molly Berg led a fascinating life creating a show about a Jewish family that even nuns listened to. Since it was radio, she was able to get away with a bit more, like dramatizing a sedar, having a rock thrown through a window and talking about what was happening in Germany (on TV it’s unclear she ever went that far). The most fascinating and suspenseful part of the film is her run in with the black list, something she fought, but lost: she was never named, but the man playing her husband, Richard Loeb, was and he eventually committed suicide (for those of you who have seen The Front, with Woody Allen, the part played by Zero Mostel is based on Loeb). The Goldbergs were soon overtaken by I Love Lucy (both literally, as in the time spot, as well as in the hearts of the viewing public), but Molly’s life is still a fascinating one worth knowing about.
Not Quite Hollywood is certainly interesting and I love movies that fill me in on niche sections of the film industry. This documentary tells us all about the B films made in Australia from the 60’s to the 80’s that were mainly shown in exploitation theaters and drive ins in the U.S. Much of it, mainly the commentaries by people who were connected to the films as well as film critics from the period, is fascinating. But it does seem to fail in one area: I didn’t come away wanting to see any of these films or feel like a treasure trove of movies has been overlooked. In fact, the documentary convinced me that these were pretty awful movies overall (even Quentin Tarrentino, one of the main commentators, rarely came out and say these were great films, but tended to say that certain scenes were great and that they were influential). Even Mad Max, perhaps the best film to come out of this, looks like a piece of merde in the context of the films shown here. The best line is probably that of a critic referring to a particular producer and set of movies saying they “should be burned to the ground and his ashes sown with salt”.