Sunday, 3 April 2016

Tralfaz Sunday Theatre – Your Name Here

A clever writer I knew once whipped up a gag spot featuring nothing but copywriting clichés. It was a funny satire but the fact is there are lousy and lazy writers out there who use crutches such as “for all your (blank) needs” or “fit your budget.”

Industrial films can be a lot of fun, but they can suffer from trite writing, too. It’s something that screams to be ridiculed, and that’s just what the anonymous staff at Calvin Productions did.

Calvin was an industrial firm based in Kansas City founded in 1931 by Forrest O. Calvin, a 1929 grad of the University of Kansas, and his wife Betty. Local radio production manager Larry Sherwood was also a partner. One of the company’s staffers was a fellow named Robert Altman. Besides industrials, Calvin produced a series in 1964 called “Cobby’s Hobbies” starring a chimp, available to TV stations in 156 five-minute shows or 52 fifteen-minute shows. The company seems to have had its tongue in its cheek as some of its industrial titles included “The Dingbat Story,” as well as “The ABCs of Film Direction,” “Artwork in Motion,” “How to Run a Filling Station” and “The Your Name Here Story.”

What is “The Your Name Here Story”? Allow American Cinematographer magazine from 1964 to tell you.
Calvin Workshop Films
Calvin Productions, Inc., 1105 Truman Road, Kansas City 6, Missouri, has a number of Workshop films available for loan. Four of the more popular subjects—all in 16mm—are described below. The subjects are also available for sale, and the prices of each are also included here. The prices include reel, can and Peerless treatment of the film—all f.o.b., Kansas City, Mo.
“The Vicious Circle”—Satirical handling of the subject of film production approval. Depicts woes of producer who attempts to satisfy the script preferences of individual department heads in a large corporation, rather than calling for the necessary, all-inclusive, production conference before attempting a detailed treatment and script. Running time approximately 15 minutes. Price, $100.00.
“The Your Name Here Story”—The first realization of a truly all-purpose film. Created to meet the demands of film buyers for specially tailored motion pictures, without the often difficult-to-explain costs of creative writing and personalized production. Visualizes how stock footage and sound can be edited to realize a “quickie-cheapie” of considerable magnitude. Running time, approximately 10 minutes. Price, $75.00.
“Over And Outs”—The title pretty well says it. A collection of culls, N.G. takes, and scraps from the cutting room floor (many of them carefully staged) that proves absolutely nothing. General spoof of the industry. Running time, approximately 11 minutes. Price, $100.00.
“Check And Let Me Know”—Goes to painful extremes to depict the confusion and wheel-spinning that results when a mish-mash of pre-occupied people try to communicate with each other on a specific, but not too well defined, subject. Satire. Running time, approximately 11 minutes. Price, $100.00.
Calvin died in Kansas City in 1963, Sherwood in 1968, and the company shut down in 1982. Not only did they produce the films listed above, Calvin was responsible for “Freeze,” starring Judy Carne and Arte Johnson in a low-budget, “Laugh-In”-like sales pitch for refrigerators. And many Calvinites worked on that 1956 camp classic “Corn’s a Poppin’,” a 1956 country-western musical starring Jerry Wallace and featuring some really stiff and grade-school-level acting.

“Your Name Here” is faintly reminiscent of Stan Freberg’s satire but without the Frebergian bite, and it seems to take forever to get started on its lampooning way. The ending is good and the narrator uses his best Vic Perrin-esque intoning as he takes us on a rugged journey of the inspired creation of a successful ad film using nothing but tired old ideas.


  1. That film hit my ( your favorite term for good spot) and is recommended for (your favorite home place)>

  2. It's airing on Turner Classic Movies the morning of the 17th.