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a vehicle to parody his subject. Arlyck's films bring to mind the images of the late photographer Diane Arbus, but on the flip side: his subjects are odd and sometimes grotesque, but at the same time they are comic, inflated icons. When he punctured them they did not blow up, as do Arbus' s subjects, but they sputter and sirfk peacefully to the ground. As such, An Acquired Taste gently probes our culture and its pompous mores through self-parody. Distributor: New Day Films, 16mm, 26 minutes, color Robert M. Levine, Chairman Department of History University of Miami The World of Tomorrow The World of Tomorrow was produced and directed by Tom Johnson and Lance Bird; written by John Crowley; narration by Jason Robards; edited by Kate Hirson; and historical consultant was Warren Susman. "There are moments when you can see the world turning from what it is to what it will be." These words, from the narration to the superb new documentary The World of Tomorrow, suggest the breadth of the filmmakers ' view. Ostensibly a documentary about the New York World's Fair of 1939, the film is in fact about much more: an historical cusp between the Great Depression and World War II; an exercise in American cultural self-revelation; a past perception of a future that never was. The Worldy of Tomorrow has not only scope, but also beauty, narrative power, and subtlety. Provocative and multi-layered, it should entertain, stimulate, and inform historians and students at all levels. Despite the difficulties of programming a 78 minute film, The World of Tomorrow is worth the effort; it would enrich any course on recent American history. A central source of the film's impact is an eloquent, funny, and poignant fictive narration written by John Crowley that purports to be the reminiscences of someone who visited the fair at the impressionable age of ten and who is now looking back with hindsight at his generation's dreams for a better world, which were by turns foolish, courageous, naive, materialistic, and frequently contradictory. Powerfully spoken by 44 veteran actor Jason Robards, the narration enables us not only to laugh at the somestimes absurd vision embodied in the fair's concept of the future, but also in the end be moved to tears as Robard's character reads from Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" and reflects that we may never again be able to believe in a tomorrow as hopeful and as innocent. Always imaginative and resonant in its imagery, The World of Tomorrow turns a buried time capsule into a powerful symbol of the way the present addresses the future selectively, with only very limited selfknowledge . The Hollywood movie The Wizard of Oz, released in the same year as the fair's opening, becomes an eloquent parallel of black and white reality transformed into technicolor dreamland. The World of Tomorrow revels in the ambiguities, paradoxes, and unlikely juxtapositions that abounded at the fair. Rigid central planning, gaudy razzmataz, selfcongratulatory free enterprise, streamlined technology, homespun Americana , gimmicky promotion, hopeful internationalism, and strident nationalism all co-existed on the redeemed ash-heap in Queens. Underlying the fair was a faith that science, technology, social planning, and geopolitical cooperation would combine to produce a future of peace, progress, and prosperity. The most popular exhibit, the General Motors Futurama, presented a vast model of "the wonderful world of 1960," when all cities would be transformed into perfectly planned, provertyfree communities interlaced with enormous, safe super-highways. Yet even amidst the fair's bullish optimism, the real future intruded, especially in the fair's second summer of 1940. A Lithuanian immigrant filmed Lithuanian Day only to have his homeland cease to exist as a separate nation by the time his film was developed; and on the outskirts of the stringently ordered and planned community of the fairgrounds, officials expanded the tawdry amusement park in an attempt to boost revenues. Johnson and Bird are seasoned compilation filmmakers, having previously produced American Lost and Found, on the Great Depression, and No Place to Hide, on the government's Cold War campaign to get Americans to build bomb shelters. The World of Tomorrow is expertly pieced...


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pp. 44-46
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