Sunday, May 07, 2006

warehouse movie department presents mr. b natural

Since the Warehouse knows you love vintage educational films with modern humourous commentary, we are proud to bring you one of the loopiest representatives of the genre, 1957's Mr. B Natural.

Here's how Ken Smith described today's presentation in his book Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945-1970:

C.G. Conn, a manufacturer of musical instruments, sponsored this film - and what a film it is. Mr. B Natural is an elflike character played by a middle-aged woman named Betty Luster, who was probably a summer-stock Peter Pan. As Mr. B Natural, she wearts a powder blue Robin Hood cap and blazer covered with musical notes and delivers every line as if it were punctuated with three exclamation marks. Mr. B Natural represents "the spirit of fun in music" and has come to earth to help twelve-year old Buzz Turner discover that being in a school band (stocked with Conn musical instruments) can be "fun, fun, fun!!!"

Buzz certainly needs help. He's a shy bookworm who wants to get to know Jeanie, "the cutest girl in school," but lacks any skills to help him "fit in with the gang". Then Mr. B Natural appears in his bedroom and tells him he can be popular by joining the school band. "Wait'll you see the kicks you get out of it, Buzz! The glamour of the uniform! The thrill of traveling for band competition! Just like being a member of a football team!!!"

Buzz swallows Mr. B Natural's argument, and several minutes later he's playing lead trumpet at a romantic school dance, with Jeanie looking on admiringly.

This strange film has many unreal moments, but nothing tops Betty Luster for pure, inescapable insanity. She is a shrieking, grimacing menace, squealing lines such as "a clarinet's not just a clarinet, it's a happy smile!!!" (186)

For your enjoyment, here's part 1 of Mystery Science Theatre 3000's take on it...

...and part 2.

The Warehouse takes no responsibility in any sudden increase in the sales of G.C Conn instruments or anyone who decides to take up the mantle of "the spirit of fun in music" and roam the streets of out fair city decked up in musical notes (Halloween excepted, maybe). - JB

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