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Build Your Vocabulary (1948)

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Uploaded on Aug 6, 2010

The film opens at a "civic association" meeting, probably a familiar setting for its late forties audience. "Mr. Willis" wants to speak his mind, but he lacks the vocabulary he needs to articulate his thoughts properly. Afterward, as he sulks at home, dutiful son Pete asks him to read his term paper before he hands it in -- a paper about the need to turn public parks into "playgrounds for the direction of youthful energy into character-building channels." Mr. Willis is impressed with Pete's "explicitness," and Pete encourages him to keep a "vocabulary notebook" in "a business-like way." "People can be interested in new ideas," the narrator explains, but apparently only if they're articulated correctly. Mr. Willis doesn't find building his vocabulary easy ("Nobody can learn all these words!" he yells at one point, "I'm going to bed!"), but in the end it pays and he becomes the star of the next civic association meeting. Who says the young can't teach the old? All interiors. Some nice low-light photography as dad struggles at his desk at night. Some actual intended humor as dad's secretary flees from his silent scowling. Nice use of layered voices echoing inside dad's head as he wrestles with his conscience. The camera actually dollies in for reaction shots; unusual, tricky and effective. Use of flashbacks and wipes.

Producer: Coronet Instructional Films

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