The Field Guide for Sponsored Films by Rick Prelinger


Rick Prelinger has been preserving “ephemeral” films for decades, but THE FIELD GUIDE TO SPONSORED FILMS is his first published guide to historically significant films that were commissioned for production by American advocacy groups, businesses, charities, local governmental offices, etc. (full disclosure: CONELRAD is thanked in the acknowledgements section of the book). The entire book can be downloaded in PDF form here.

Along with a diverse round-up of social guidance and promotional films, there are many Cold War propaganda classics contained in this addictive book including TARGET, U.S.A. (1951), THE HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE (1954), THE ATOM COMES TO TOWN (1957), ANARCHY, U.S.A. (1966), and THE ATOM AND EVE (1966). There are a total of 452 films that have individual entries in the book.

CONELRAD was particularly pleased that Mr. Prelinger chose to include the incredibly bizarre Bell Telephone phone courtesy film ADVENTURE IN TELEZONIA (1949) and its 1969 remake TELEZONIA. The original film featured puppetry by Bil and Cora Baird and taught school children how to answer the household telephone properly (via instruction from marionettes!). The remake features a strange looking man named “Telly” in a white Bell Telephone uniform who entices kids to journey with him into the telephone system. So much for the efficacy of all those “Don’t Speak to Strangers” films.

Prelinger’s book is particularly useful as a resource tool because it provides citation notes on articles written about the individual films and, in many cases, instructs the reader on how to see these celluloid gems. The Field Guide to Sponsored Films is an excellent supplement to Ken Smith’s almost definitive Mental Hygiene (1999, Blast Books, New York). Mr. Smith is knocked down a peg for his failure to include TELEZONIA.

By Rick Prelinger
Copyright 2006 by the National Film Preservation Foundation
San Francisco, CA
140 pages


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