Junior High Schools in New York City (film #794 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This early 60s film tries to explain the whole concept of junior high schools to parents who didn’t go to them, and thus don’t think they’re necessary. It does it in as stilted and controlled fashion as possible, with everything carefully scripted and acted out by people who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag. This gives the film a geeky quality which is rather appealing after a bit. It is sure to bring back lots of memories, not all of them pleasant, in folks who attended junior high during the 50s and early 60s. Gender roles aplenty appear, including boys lining up in the front of the classroom while girls line up at the side; boys learning woodworking and electrical tinkering in shop class, while girls learn cooking, table manners, and dressmaking in Home Ec; and girls doing folk dancing in P.E., while the boys play sports. It was somewhat ahead of its time, though, in the portrayal of multi-racial classrooms and an African-American art teacher teaching white students. If it’s school footage you want, this film has it. Now close your notebooks and prepare to pass to the next film.

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

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