Gizmo! (1977)

“But they pooh-poohed the idea.”

Synopsis:
Early 20th century inventors show off their wild and wacky creations in original archival footage.

Genres:

Review:
If you’re hoping to see footage of the best unsung inventions of the last century, then this isn’t the movie you’ve been waiting for. If, however, you’re interested in watching oddballs with seemingly indomitable spirits who aren’t afraid to make utter fools of themselves on film, this little-seen documentary may be right up your alley. You’ll witness more variations on primitive (and physically impossible) “flying machines” than you ever thought existed, as well as demonstrations of some truly strange skills — which technically shouldn’t count as inventions, but are included here anyway, presumably for their wackiness factor. The documentary is comprised exclusively of archival footage (with voices dubbed in the silent clips), possesses no voice-over narration, and is accompanied by a surprisingly rocking soundtrack.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A woman swinging through New York while gripping a rope with her teeth
  • An excellent soundtrack

Must See?
No, but this precursor to “America’s Funniest Home Videos” is worth watching at least once.

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One Response to “Gizmo! (1977)”

  1. First viewing. Not a must, but a one-of-a-kind documentary nevertheless.

    For all I know, there are other documentaries about inventors as an entire group – one would think so, but I doubt I have ever seen one which conveys an overview of the ‘idea’ of inventing and what motivates people to pursue such ideas. Indeed, ‘Gizmo!’ covers way too much ground in its short time to actually reveal much about the process of inventing anything in particular. It more or less applauds the curious and bold human spirit and its willingness to take those ‘foolish’ steps necessary to create…well, most of the things we now use in improved/perfected forms, and take for granted.

    This is not a very polished documentary. It’s a rather slapdash affair of what looks like footage taken from different periods covering the ’30s through to the ’60s. While occasionally being genuinely amusing, the film takes us through ways both impractical and cumbersome by which people sought to make life easier or more efficient for others. A lot of what we see is crude inventiveness – but much of it does make an odd kind of sense: indoor/outdoor exercisers for dogs; a ‘magic fluid’ people walk through in a pool in order to dry clean their clothes; ‘landing gear’ for passengers hit by cars, etc. We’re shown as well the many unforeseen roadblocks to perfection of a product, while learning that certain accidents during the invention process can prevent certain refined inventions from fully seeing the light of day.

    It would be interesting to see a much better, more thorough documentary on the same subject.

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