Okay, so Tulsa's famous 1957 Plymouth Belvedere didn't fare too well after spending 50 years holed up inside a damp time capsule. But some of the other items sealed in the crypt survived the journey through time in much better condition.
Turns out, however, there was no need to pickle "Destination Earth" underground, because the film had already been preserved for posterity by the Prelinger Archive, an online resource that's a treasure-trove for fans of ephemeral film:
Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 60,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 4,000 titles on videotape and a smaller collection of film materials acquired subsequent to the Library of Congress transaction. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere.
Which brings us back to Destination Earth. The film is an animated piece done in (what now looks like) a cute, Hanna-Barbera style. It tells the story of a space traveler from Ogg, a statist society on Mars, who travels to Earth to find the technology needed to repair the limousine used by Ogg the Magnificent, leader of the Oggs. Once on earth, the alien concludes that oil and free-market competition are the keys to long-term prosperity. He brings this knowlege back to Mars, to galvanizing effect.
Propaganda? Definitely. Fun to watch? You bet!
So, sit back in your easy chair, and watch Destination Earth, the 1956 film that the American Petroleum Institute really really really wanted you to see -- so much so that they even buried a copy in Tulsa's time capsule.
"Destination Earth" (American Petroleum Institute film preserved by the Prelinger Archive)
(Photo above by Michael Bates)