This week Boing Boing posted the story Home movie of contest-winning family vacation to Disneyland in 1956, spotlighting Robbins Barstow’s film Disneyland Dream, saying “every second of this footage is pure gold.” Robbins has been shooting first film, then video, for more than 70 years, and Disneyland Dream is but one film in the “Barstow Travel Adventure” series that he and Skip Elsheimer of A/V Geeks have been posting online on the Internet Archive.
Robbins first came to the attention of the Home Movie Day crowd when he brought his 1936 adventure epic Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge to screen at a Home Movie Day event. Tarzan was a treasure, but not a lost one, since Robbins had been regularly showing it (both on film and then in a video version with his added narration) regularly over the seven decades since its creation. He had even gathered some of the original cast, along with additional family members, for a sequel in the 1970s. The original film, along with narration and commentary by Robbins, is included on the DVD Living Room Cinema: Films from Home Movie Day. Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge, Disneyland Dream and ten more of Robbins’ films have since been donated to the Library of Congress, as part of the Robbins Barstow 20th Century Family Home Movie Collection.
While he is enjoying a second career promoting amateur filmmaking, Robbins worked for many years for the Connecticut Education Association. He was also very active with his local public access station, and it was there that he produced the video versions of his films, which he then packaged and offered up for the public. He is probably best known, however, for his long-standing interest in saving the whales, and he was one of the founders of the Cetacean Society, International, as described in this 1994 New York Times article.
Future Home and Amateur posts will look more closely at the Barstow filmography and his amateur film legacy.