The Wonderful World of Industrial Musicals | Chicago Reader

The Wonderful World of Industrial Musicals

2015

Steve Young, a writer for The Late Show With David Letterman, comes to town under the auspices of the Found Footage Festival to present his gleanings from the kitsch world of industrial musicals, the sorts of things screened in the 60s and 70s to amuse middle-aged marketing executives while they waited for the hookers to arrive. Like the Soviet musicals of the 1930s, these motivational sales films for Citgo, Kellogg's, Purina, and Hiram Walker can be hilariously incongruous, with funky song-and-dance performers handed such artless lyrics as "Sell those Froot Loops, Bran Flakes, and Mini-Wheats as well / You'll blow the competition all to hell." On the far side of weird lies The Bathrooms Are Coming, a 1969 effort for the plumbing-fixture line American Standard in which a woman peers into the bathroom mirror as her reflection warbles, "My bathroom is a private kind of place / A very special kind of place." But the key moment may come in the Purina spot, when a beautiful blond in a tight red sweater suggestively strokes a cash register.

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