The Prelinger Archives, at Internet Archive, contains nearly 2,000 ephemeral (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. Ephemeral film, as defined by film archivist Rick Prelinger, is film made for a specific purpose other than as a work of art: the films were designed to serve a specific pragmatic purpose for a limited time. Good term. However I have to disagree with this definition for many films on that collection.
I’ve enjoyed the films of the Archive for a long time, and the vintage commercials I’ve found there don’t serve its primordial purpose: to sell the product, but they are still entertaining. That’s the case for Chevrolet‘s commercials produced by Jam Handy Pictures. They produced many short training films, commercials and promotional cartoons in1930’s to 1950’s.
There are nearly 100 films produced by Jam Handy for Chevrolet. But I’m interested in those with animations. Down the Gasoline Trail is a good example: it starts with as a normal commercial and introduces the animation to explain the gasoline way from gas tank to the engine cylinder. It is starred by a very happy gasoline drop.
And, as I said before, there are cartoons, 9-10 minutes animations, that were probably exhibited before films for the family in theaters, since the cartoon style and stories aren’t targeted to an adult public. They start telling a fairy tale or a fantastic story and introduce the car in an inventive way. There are four of those films at Archive: A Coach for Cinderella, A Ride for Cinderella, Peg-Leg Pedro and The Princess and the Pauper.
They are all the animations from the 1930s, however I have yet another example of animated ads from another decade, the Chevrolet Commercial of 1963’s Chevrolets. It makes brilliant use of typography to illustrate reactions and feelings, with emphasis in the key words. Very well done. It’s available at Google Video, as are all the other examples:
– A Coach for Cinderella (1936)
– A Ride for Cinderella (1937)
– Down the Gasoline Trail (1935)
– Peg-Leg Pedro (1938)
– The 1963 Chevrolet (1962)
– The Princess and the Pauper (1939)
More commercials with animation at: Animated Ads, 1950’s French Commercials, Classic Television Commercials and Ferenc Cakó.
Updated: watch all the videos in just one time at this Videos with Bibi post.
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