Lady Lifeguards (available for download on Prelinger Archive. Also available for viewing on You Tube).

This newsreel featurette shows us the intensive training female lifeguards received at New York’s Manhattan Beach during the 30s. They were trained in speed and distance swimming, rowing, breaking dangerous holds that drowning victims often subject lifeguards to, and the tedious out-goes-the-bad-air-in-comes-the-good kind of artificial respiration (which the narrator tells us sometimes goes on for hours before the victim is revived). After all this, they are qualified to “assist” the male lifeguards, and must undergo leering “inspections” by the potbellied head lifeguard, while the narrator says such clever things as, “This is a company anybody would love to inspect!” I’m sure they received “assistant” pay as well. The bland sexist assumptions of this film tell us just how far we’ve come in improving our view of women––the narrator seems throughout like he can barely believe that the “girls” can do all that lifesaving stuff. Another good film for an ephemera “ladies night.”

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

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