Picks and Pans Review: Gizmo!

updated 02/25/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/25/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

Howard Smith, the Oscar-winning documentary maker (he co-directed Marjoe), was once Howard Smith, the failed inventor. Actually, he still thinks making Popsicle sticks out of hard candy (his bright idea at 13) makes more sense than a lot of other inventions, and with this new documentary he proves it. Smith looked at old (mostly '20s and '30s) newsreel clips of more than 5,000 gizmos, choosing the funniest (an inverted bathing cap to contain beards) and, alas, the saddest (a parachute that doesn't work). Some of the ideas are riotous, and nearly all are interesting, but even at a laugh a minute, this movie would offer precisely 79 laughs. With today's movie house prices, any film this short belongs on television (it's already been on CATV in some cities) or in one invention that shouldn't have failed—the double feature. (G)

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