Founded by Rick Prelinger in 1983, The Prelinger Archives have amassed thousands of “ephemeral” films — advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films of “historic significance” that haven’t been collected elsewhere. We’ve featured some gems from the Archive in months past. Remember How to Spot a Communist (1955) or Have I Told You Lately I Love You (1958)?
Among other things, the archive features some 2,000 public domain films, which people are free to remix and mashup however they like. Some time ago, Shaun Clayton got into the spirit, took a series of 1950’s and 60’s-era coffee commercials from the Archives (like the one below), and “edited them down to just the moments when the guys were the biggest jerks to their wives about coffee.” The point of the exercise, I’d like to think, wasn’t just to show men being jerks for the sake of it, but to throw into stark relief the disturbing attitudes coursing through American advertising and culture during that era. And nothing accomplishes that better than mashing up the scenes, placing them side by side, showing them one after another. It gives a clear historical reality to views we’ve seen treated artistically in shows like Mad Men.
Just for the record, I make my own coffee.
This is Coffee!: A 1961 Tribute to Our Favorite Stimulant (from the Prelinger Archive)