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Social Class in America (1957)

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Uploaded on Jan 24, 2011

If this film was designed to stimulate thought, it succeeds. We follow the lives of three small town high school buddies; "Gil Ames" who is rich and happy; "Dave Benton" who is poor and doomed; and "Ted Eastwood," who is middle class and doomed. Gil is sent to an Ivy League school (where he meets "men of his own kind"), returns home wearing a bow tie, and takes over his father's very profitable business. Dave gets married, has lots of kids, and winds up working in a gas station. Ted wants to be an artist, but he falls in love with "Mary" and becomes a white collar bookkeeper.

Mary, however, wants a man with a bigger bank account, so she dumps Ted, who then decides to move to Manhattan and "make something" of himself. After many years of hard work as an advertising artist and art director, Ted lands a painfully dull white collar job in an advertising agency and gets to play golf with rich men. This is "vertical mobility," the narrator explains, "particularly characteristic of the United States." Ted returns home wearing a snappy hat, but Mary has married Gil, and both really don't want anything to do with him.

This film was produced to explain basic concepts of sociology, but ends up presenting a rather dark view of social class and mobility in America.

Producer: Knickerbocker Productions
Sponsor: McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc.

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