The Bright Young Newcomer (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #250 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

In this training film for office managers, a conflict flares up between Joan, a newly-hired employee with lots of new ideas, and Betty, a long-time employee who designed many of that office’s procedures. Joan has some helpful suggestions about how the filing system could be changed, but Betty resents the upstart’s criticism of “her” filing system, which she thinks “has always been good enough up to now.” The office manager, Mr. Barnes, has to figure out how to resolve the issue, which he allowed to escalate by taking no action up to this point. The film ends without resolution, like the other films in this series, posing the discussion question, “Why is Betty resisting new ideas?” The answer, of course, is that Betty, as well as the other “girls” in this office, has been treated with absolutely no respect, even though the film makes clear that she essentially runs this office. They even admit that she has been there as long as Barnes. Yet she sits at a desk in the office pool, with no more authority than any of the other “girls” (they are always called that) in the office. This leaves her to fight like a junkyard dog over what little she can control––if she allows some young upstart to mess with “her” filing system, then she no longer can claim that it is “hers,” and take complete and sole credit for it. Both Barnes and the narrator of this film have the temerity to act as if this conflict was of no importance, that the “girls” make “mountains out of molehills” and get into spats over “nothing”––even though records management is essentially what this office does, and it’s clear that the “girls” handle all the real work of the department, leaving Barnes to answer “important” phone calls in his private, empty office and sign the occasional form that is brought to him. The real discussion question here, folks, is “Why is this company so resistant to the idea of treating their female employees with respect?” One of the most appallingly sexist films I’ve ever seen, which makes it a great historical document of why the woman’s movement was necessary.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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