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Defining the 1970s Through Classic Commercials

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From the ridiculous to the sublime.  Thank God you won’t be suckered into buying a lot of these products, since many of them are no longer on the market.  For the others, this is warning to enjoy the ads, but don’t buy the product — especially Rely Tampons which were pulled after killing many women with toxic shock syndrome. See notes at bottom.

Program List

  • Rely Tampons
  • Opening remarks
  • Credits
  • Intertitle:  You Gotta Have a Gimmick
  • Don’t Squeeze the Charmin’,  Mr. Whipple
  • Wonder Bread,  We’re the fresh guys
  • Doral Cigarettes,  Taste Me Taste Me
  • Borax Soap Dispenser
  • The new two hole spray deodorant
  • Intertitle:  Sex Sells
  • Score For Hair,  Blatant phallic symbols
  • Ponds Cold Cream, Rape fantasy
  • Coppertone,  We Own the Sun
  • MacLeans Toothpaste,  When You’re Ready!
  • Intertitle:  Feminine Allure
  • Carnation Ultra Thin
  • Cutex
  • Maybelline Eye Lashes
  • Cachet Perfume
  • MDS Feminine Deodorant Spray
  • Intertitle:  Moral Crusade
  • United Negro College Fund
  • Tooth Decay, animated w/Tarzan
  • Safe swimming, w/ Roadrunner and Shamu
  • Presidential Physical Fitness
  • Intertitle:  The New Joy of Food:  Out of a Box
  • Rice A Roni
  • Betty Crocker Instant Potatoes
  • Green Giant Peas
  • Better Foods Mayo
  • Swanson TV Dinners
  • Stag Chile in a Can
  • Intertitle:  Nine out of Ten Dentists Agree Sex Sells Toothpaste
  • Ultra Brite, Give Your Mouth SEX APPEAL
  • Gleem II
  • Macleans
  • Pearl Drops
  • Tic Tac Breathmints
  • Intertitle:  Boogie On Down and Grab a Soda
  • Dr. Pepper, I’m a Pepper
  • 7-Up, in a Disco
  • Diet Dr. Pepper, Pin Ball Disco
  • Dad’s Mug Root Beer
  • Coke
  • Intertitle:  Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
  • New Bold,  Insulted housewife
  • Irish Spring
  • Cold Power
  • Fab With Borex, Boys Will Be Boys
  • Intertitle:  Toys R Us
  • Mattel Thundershift
  • Knit Magic
  • Pedal Pretty Curl Doll
  • Kathy Quick  Doll
  • Mouse Trap Game
  • Barbie Doll
  • American Meal
  • Doo Dads
  • Ding Dongs
  • Twinkies, Space Girls
  • Dorados Chips
  • Nestles Chocolate,  Cold Bunny
  • Intertitle:  Celebs Gotta Work Too
  • Universal Studios,  Alfred Hitchcock
  • Crisco, Peter Boyle
  • No Littering,   Pat Deodorant
  • Hour After Hour Deodorant,  Diane Keaton
  • All Detergent,  Lilly Tomlin
  • Carling Beer,  George Burns
  • Intertitle:   Big American Cars Defeated By Imports
  • Lincoln Town Car
  • Ford Escort
  • Jeep Introduces the first SUV
  • Toyota Drag Racer
  • Easy Bake Oven
  • Intertitle:  Junk Food  The All
  • Honda, 30 Second Test Drive
  • Dodge Truck
  • AMC Pacer,  The Sandwich King
  • Intertitle:  Damn the Ozone!  Hair Is Important
  • Blonds American Style
  • VO Five Hair Spray
  • Control For Men’s Hair
  • Vitalis
  • Intertitle:  Who Needs  A Doctor When you’ve Got TV
  • Doan’s Pills, for back ache
  • Anacin
  • Preparation H
  • Wart Remover
  • Alka Seltzer
  • Clearasil
  • Intertitle:  When Fun Was Fun:  Smoking and Drinking
  • Winston  Cigarettes,  It’s Not How Long You Make It
  • Carling Beer, Marching Band
  • Ernest and Julio Gallo Wine
  • Marlboro Cigarettes
  • Schlitz Malt Liquor,  Watch Out For The Bull
  • Ice House Wine Coolers
  • Colt 45
  • Intertitle:  Part of a Balanced Breakfast
  • Wheaties,  When You Know He’s A Man
  • Fruit Loops
  • Alphabits, with The Jackson Five
  • Sugar Frosted Flakes
  • Trix  Silly Rabbit!
  • Coco Pebbles, with Fred and Barney
  • Intertitle:  Riding the Gravy Train all the way to the Bank
  • Purina Horse Food
  • Gaines Burgers
  • Gravy Train
  • Purina Tender Vittles
  • Nine Lives Cat Food
  • Purina Cat Chow Chow Chow
  • Intertitle:  The Fine Art of Exploiting Children
  • Sippity Doo Da
  • Crazy Foam
  • MacDonalds,  Ronald MacDonald
  • Twinkies,  Creepy Clowns
  • Kool Aid  Bowling Alley,  Hey Kool Aid!
  • A Final Word from Rod Serling

Notes:

Somewhere in my reading during the year 2000 I stumbled across the quote “You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements” attributed to Norman Douglas. It then struck me I that I had found a use for the many TV commercials I had amassed over the years. The result was the program Defining the 1970’s Through Classic Commercials. It premiered at the Clinton Street Theater, received a rave review from Shawn Levy in the Portland Oregonian, and did very good business. That was the easy part. Putting the show together was the hard part.

The final program had 132 commercials. They had been whittled down from hundreds. To start with I watched the hundreds of commercials and took notes. Many were built up on forty five minute reels. I then thought of categories to group the ads in. Among the groups I came up with were Sex Sells, Hook’em While They’re Young, and Damn the Ozone: Hair is Important. I started grouping the ads. After a couple of weeks of work I had dozens of stacks, small reels and bigger reels. This was in the tiny projection booth of the Clinton that was already littered with dozens of reels of my films. I had 16mm intertitles made to introduce the categories to the viewers. Finally I was ready for the final edit. I had it done a couple of hours before the critics arrived for the press screening. Oh, at least I had reel one ready. I finished reel two while number one was on the screen.

I took Defining the 1970’s Through Classic Commercials to Europe in 2001. The title was changed to The Truth About the Disco Decade. It met with good success. I also showed it at the Interfilm Film Festival in Berlin, in New York and in Seattle.