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Reviews of photography products that enhance the enjoyment of taking pictures. Published frequently but irregularly.

Matinee: 'Harry the Photographer' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 November 2013

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the eighth in our series of Saturday matinees today: Harry the Photographer. No need to take notes for this one. You can put your feet up. It's a half-hour episode from a 1950s-era TV series (no feature length film this Saturday) called Meet Corliss Archer.

In Episode 35 (my, they worked hard in those days) from the first season of the short-lived sitcom that ran from 1954 to 1955, Harry decides to take a family photograph for Aunt Mary, but rather than make an appointment with Swanson the professional, he rummages around the attic for his father's view camera and flash powder so he can do it himself.

He's pretty sure he can save the money he'd spend at Swanson's even though his wife points out Swanson is inexpensive and has been doing it for 20 years. But he also wants to show up his friend who has a modern camera (which uses flash bulbs).

The plot, though, isn't what we found amusing about this nearly 60 year-old clip. Even subtracting a little creative license, the portrayal of a couple of generations of antique photo equipment in action is fun to watch. The Fire Department arrives more than once in this comedy.

Then, too, there's the all-too-familiar promise that the latest equipment will make good photos a snap. Heard that one, have you?

In fact, we think you'll recognize quite a few modern foibles in this old footage. And that's the amusing thing about it: some things never change.

Near the end, the promise they'll be "back in a minute" can mean only one thing. But the commercial has been stripped from this clip. So we dug up an appropriate one for you:

It too is amusing. Imagine trying to sell your product by giving away free advice on how to use it. We learned more about taking pet portraits in this commercial than, well, it's not something we studied in school.

Sixty years ago, the world was a quite different place.

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