At the Movies, Old School Style

Our daughter, a high school senior, gets to watch movies in class on occasion. I can tell you two things: the films are a lot more entertaining than the celluloid we viewed in my day; and yet I kind of pity her, because the whole movie watching thing for her is rather humdrum.

I shall explain.

Anyone over the age of 40 should remember what it was like when there was going to be a movie shown in class that day.

It was a big deal.

Who can forget the rumble of the big cart rolling down the hallway, on which was the seemingly huge film projector, being wheeled into the classroom by the "A/V geek," who was nothing more than a fellow student who somehow wrangled his way into such a gig.

Then the anticipation of the movie itself, which wasn't a feature film like the kids in school are privileged to view nowadays. Rather, it was very instructional in nature---like about science or social studies, etc.

Perhaps it was a movie about how we use oxygen in everyday life. Or how they make rubber. Stuff like that.

Regardless, even though we knew we weren't settling in to watch "True Grit" or "Herbie the Love Bug," a movie in class meant that the lights would be turned off (a great opportunity to sneak in a nap), and that it was a good way to kill 15-20 minutes.

A still taken from a film we may have viewed in class, circa 1970s

Sometimes there would be a technical difficulty, and the A/V kid would be summoned, or another teacher, and before you knew it, another 10-15 minutes would be taken off the board.

I don't know how many times we implored the teacher to run the film backwards after it was finished. Sometimes teach would relent, and the room would be filled with guffaws as we saw images of people walking backwards, machines running in reverse and liquid defying gravity and pouring "up."

The movies, looking back on what I recall of them, were probably produced in the late-1950s, early-1960s, based on the clothing and the cars. Most were in color, though.

Anyhow, it was more than popping a DVD into a player. Much more. And much more exciting, frankly.

The movies themselves wouldn't win any People's Choice Awards, but the experience might have.

(click here for an example of a 1960s educational film---this one about the Union Pacific Railroad)


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