12/29/09

Assignment: Venezuela

Riffed for the the never-released MST3K: The Home Game

(1956, Short/Industrial, color)

This is like “A Very Brady Venezuela.”

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

Venezuela sure is foreign, am I right?

Summary:

I want Venezuela on my desk by Friday morning!Our narrator arrives in Venezuela, having been recently transferred to the oil fields of Maracaibo by the Creole Oil Company. In the course of several long and rosy letters to his wife and kids, he tells them just how swell it is down near the equator, where every day is summer, the natives beautiful and/or friendly, and the modern conveniences almost as good as the ones they have back home.

Interspersed, we see him zoom from oil rig to oil rig on a large, Venezolano-crewed lake barge, drive to capital city Caracas for Spanish lessons, and negotiate the use of an aluminum hut for his soon-to-be-summoned family. Finally, his family arrives at the airport. When they’re all through customs, his wife and two small boys demonstrate their newly acquired command of the Spanish language as each berates the porter in turn.

Thoughts:

Yep, that time stamp stays there the whole time.Now, I’ve never been to Venezuela, let alone the Venezuela of 1956. I did, however, live in South America for a couple of years, so I’m pretty sure that a) Caracas only looks that good in certain neighborhoods, and even then, only from certain angles, and b) living in a metal shack near the equator isn’t quite the luxury he makes it out to be. Politically speaking, I guess moving to South America during the Cold War would have been better than moving to Somalia today, but you could say that of anyplace, really. If, one day, I told my wife, “Honey, I want to raise my kids where respect for civil authority is tenuous at best and fierce anti-American sentiment could break out at any moment,” I think she’d say no.

Assignment Venezuela was intended to be used with the never-released MST3K: The Home Game, a thing I hadn’t heard of until very recently, and later released directly to (now out-of-print) video by Best Brains. Armed with the knowledge of its existence, however, you can easily find it in the extras of Rhino Home Video’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Volume 7. (If you, like me, never bought most of the collections because you already had copies through VHS releases, broadcast recordings and tape trading, you could just head down and watch it on youtube.) A few favorite comments: When we first see our interestingly-haircutted narrator, Tom refers to him as, “Our man in Venezuela, Pee Wee Herman.” Later, as he goes on about the luxuriously appointed Quonset hut he’s obtained, Crow says, “It’s like living in a B-52.” When he visits Caracas and notes how its residents go to Simon Bolivar square to revere the name of their liberator, Mike adds, “I think it was Zorro or something.” Throughout, they needle the narrator constantly after an errant speculation about the width of the lake proves wrong. It’s pretty long for an industrial short, about twenty-five minutes, but they keep up the pace for a reasonably pleasant viewing experience.