Kino Classics Classic Educational Shorts Volume 5 (Rules for School) and 6 (Troubled Teens) (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Back in my youth, Catholic School could be so boring that I’d look forward to any movie or activity that would take up some class time. It didn’t matter if it was about the silliest subject (like manners or school crossing guards), all I wanted was a few minutes of respite to collect my thoughts and have a mental vacation. I wanted to escape the drudgery so bad that I volunteered to be the school’s A/V technician. I had to learn to run the film projectors, film strip machines and the primitive stereos. But then when any class had to run an A/V machine, they had to call me to set up and operate everything. Oh yeah, it was great.

Kino Classics has bought me back to those heady youthful days again with Volume 5 and 6 of their classic educational DVDs. Dropping this into my DVD player was like stepping into a time machine (a very weird time machine). Suddenly I felt like a young innocent boy again, laughing at the goofy people onscreen trying to teach me a lesson. I also felt like the crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000! Some of these classic educational films are screamingly funny to a modern audience and you’ll find yourself easily coming up with your own wise ass comments.

Volume 5 is called “Rules for School” and it features 15 shorts from the 1940s and 50s. The films cover subjects like school rules, school spirit, vandalism, and classroom discipline. My favorite short is “Manners in School”, an 11 minute classic where an obnoxious 10-year old (you know the type) is given a quick lesson in proper school behavior by an animated stick man made of chalk! It’s also pretty clear from these shorts that students in the 1950s were expected to conform. There was simply no coloring outside of the lines allowed!

Volume 6 is my personal favorite of the two volumes. It’s called “Troubled Teens” and it tackles a lot of eye raising topics including sex education (“As Boys Grow” [I hear you snickering out there!]), VD (“A Quarter Million Teenagers”), and teen pregnancy (“Lucy”). But I absolutely love “The Last Date”, where a teenage Joan Taylor (from 1956’s “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” and 1957’s “20 Million Miles to Earth”) makes a mistake and takes a fatal ride with hot rodder Dick York (“Bewitched”). This short is an 18 minute hoot and features priceless dialogue including this choice bit:

Jeanne: How possessive can a man be? You don’t own me.”

Larry: “No, but I’d like to someday.”

These are also cultural time capsules and if you want to know why America was so damn uptight decades ago, look no further than these shorts. But for me these classic educational shorts are an instant party favorite and the bomb. You won’t be able to watch one without breaking into howls of laughter.

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