Bell Science: Our Mister Sun (1956)

Genres - Children's/Family, Education, Science & Technology  |   Sub-Genres - Children's Educational, Physical Sciences  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Modern audiences may not be familiar with Our Mister Sun, but many students growing up in the '50s and '60s (and into the '70s) remember being pleasantly surprised when this very entertaining program was part of their science class curriculum. Given its age, it's surprising how much of Our Mister Sun holds up, both in terms of the facts it presents and the manner in which they are presented. Yes, some of the information is out of date, but a great deal is not. More importantly, it's still an entertaining and even fascinating viewing experience. This is especially surprising when the film is compared with the vast majority of school documentaries from the period, the tone and attitude of which make them seem like something from another planet. It's not that Our Mister Sun isn't dated -- it is, especially toward the end when this straightforward excursion into science takes a turn toward the religious (albeit toward an all-encompassing general belief in theism rather than toward a particular religion) -- but much of what makes this film dated is refreshing and charming, rather than laughable. This is especially true of the genuine optimism that permeates the piece; if it is occasionally naïve when extolling the virtues of nuclear energy, it seems to really be naïveté, rather than an attempt to brush aside unpleasant facts. Of course, what really makes the film work are the wonderful animated sequences, which give it life and joy (in no small part due to the wonderful vocal work of Lionel Barrymore). The real life performers also play no small part in the film's success. It's no surprise that old pro Eddie Albert plays his part so well. What is surprising is how well Dr. Frank Baxter works, despite the fact that his performance is fairly amateurish and physically stiff; nevertheless, he's an avuncular, warm presence, and he makes all the "science stuff" sound like fun.

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Keywords

educational-television, sun, energy, outer-space, plants [botany], solar-system, professor