RVOD138 Magical Disappearing Money

(1972, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Join me in the abyss of savings!

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:

Only buy food in its basest, most unvarnished form.


Christine O'Donnell was Delaware's Republican candidate for the Senate in 2010.  In an interview she said she'd briefly practiced witchcraft as a rebellious teenager.Shoppers wander the grocery store selecting their favorite processed foods while an invisible woman in a hideous dress shakes her head and clucks with disapproval. Finally, she can stand it no longer. She whirls her muumuu’s cape and wags a finger, causing a child to crash his cart into a large display of generic laundry detergent. This somehow makes her visible to the shoppers. They gather round while she conjures herself a podium.

There’s a lot of finger wagging coupled with cheap special effects, peripherally involving an undernourished kitten and the consignment of a milkman to hell. The bulk of her act, however, consists of breaking down the shoppers’ prospective processed food purchases into their component ingredients. The child’s pre-sweetened cereal would be cheaper if his mom bought unsweetened and then added her own sugar. Head-ball lady would be better served with plain rice than the seasoned boxed kind. Muttonchop man should just buy fresh zucchini instead of that frozen, breaded stuff. And so on.

The shoppers nod their heads in general agreement. The floral-print grocery witch wags a finger and disappears, reconstructing the generic laundry detergent tower in her place. Fearing her whimsical, scatterbrained wrath, the shoppers return their overly extravagant purchases to the shelf, swapping them out for cheaper, plainer fare.


How to describe the Grocery Witch? Let’s just say that if Mr. B Natural got really high and dressed like a 1950s Chesterfield, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Strangely, I actually find myself agreeing with her shopping suggestions quite a bit, if not for the reasons she gives. I buy component ingredients because I love to cook, and food always tastes better when it’s been hand-prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing. It follows that we disagree on the subject of powdered milk, which is really friggin’ nasty. If you can't cook, or you don’t have the time and inclination, you'd be better off ignoring her.

A few favorite comments: When the title appears, Kevin subtitles it, “The story of the trillion-dollar stimulus package.” When the witch declares quick oats much too expensive, Bill adds, “Satan’s oats only cost your soul.” As the shoppers come round to the witch’s way of thinking, Mike invites them to “spread [her] dark gospel across the land.” Throughout, the witch has a habit of suddenly popping into frame at odd intervals, provoking deep-throated exclamations like, “Obey me!” and “I’ll drag you to hell!” when she appears. Kevin's parting shot, "Vote Christine O'Donnell!" is hilarious, even if, no one will remember what that means a year from now. It’s a very strange short, expertly mocked, and the riffers punch up its oddity and abruptness at just the right places.