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Social Courtesy (1951)

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Uploaded on Feb 20, 2008

Sour-puss "Bill" is invited to a "hard times" party with his girlfriend Carol, but he believes that social courtesy is "old fashioned." Whoa, just a minute there, says the feisty interactive narrator, who soon sets Bill on a proper course. Bill takes the narrator in stride, as he does being teleported through space and backward in time (repeatedly) in this very bizarre Coronet production.
"Let's take a picture of this situation," the narrator says as a strobe flashes from behind the camera and the scene we just saw is transformed into a photo on a wall in the next scene. "You'd better back up and start all over again. Maybe you'd better try to be more FRIENDLY this time." Bill beckons the invisible narrator closer so that he can discuss things in private, and the camera obligingly dollies in while the other teens at the party remain utterly oblivious. "You discourage others when they want to be friendly," the narrator scolds. "You're supposed to rise when an adult speaks to you; everybody knows that." "Come on, Bill. Sit up! That's a chair, not a bed." You have to wonder why Bill, who is so rude to his friends, puts up with this invisible nagging narrator (you also have to wonder why he has any friends, period).
Even the party is surreal. Signs such as "hobo jungle" and "bum's rest" (over the couch) hang on the wall, which is spotted with weird, unexplained stains. One of the girls, suddenly aware that Bill is having a solo conversation, asks "Are you talking to yourself?" which, in the early fifties, was much worse than talking to an invisible narrator.
"Learn from watching others," the narrator concludes. "You can even get a book on courtesy from the library. Be friendly. Thoughtful. YOU'LL get along!" It works; the mom chaperon exclaims "Isn't that the boy who used to be so rude?" and Bill is accorded the ultimate symbol of fifties' conformist success; he's invited to another party. "Those changes made a big difference, didn't they!" he exclaims in wonder. "Social courtesy DOES pay! Thanks!!!"
Certainly one of the most inventive Coronet films ever made. Good camera work by Bruce Colling.

Producer: Coronet Instructional Films

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