Chalkdust Memories (2007)
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Audience Reviews for Chalkdust Memories
A collection of 50s and 60s (some 70s) shorts intended for the classroom. Some were ridiculous, others boring - worth a gander, though.
Because It's Easy to Mock the Past Neither I nor any of my friends have kids in school right now. I mean, technically I do, but I talk to her so little that I've never wasted time asking her the relevant question. Which is "Do they still use these things?" I mean, not only did I spend a summer running the projector for a drivers' ed class, which also included hauling the cans of film and the occasional video tape to the various teachers, but I have clear memories of film strips. I'm wondering how old you have to be before I stop having to tell you what that even means. (Readers?) And I mean, obviously we didn't have the ones shown here about Communism and the Bomb. The issue is that I don't even remember the drug ones. I don't mean these particular drug ones; I mean that I don't remember any of my anti-drug education as having come from the business end of a projector. Just long, tedious Just Say No rallies at the Rose Bowl. Of course, all of these are older than I am. The first, "Know For Sure," is so old (1941, the oldest by a decade) that it seems out of place. The fact that its intended audience isn't schoolkids makes it wrong for the collection as well, as is "Facts of Life" (1966), aimed at adults and the only one I skipped through, more on which anon. We also have "Social-Sex Attitudes in Adolescence" (1953), which I suppose is really aimed at college students but close enough; the legendary "Duck and Cover" (1951), which is definitely aimed at young children; "Survival Under Atomic Attack" (1951), aimed at probably junior high or high school; "Red Nightmare" (1962), which does I admit seem like something to be shown at the Kiwanis meeting; "Tomorrow's Drivers" (1954) "Smith System of No-Accident Driving" (1956), and "Final Factor" (1968), which I may well have run on that projector; and the concluding trio of "Hooked" (1967), "Weed" (1971), and "LSD: Insight or Insantiy" (1968). Loosely, they're lumped into four categories. There's the sex ed, the Cold War, the driving, and the drugs. Most of them are rich in the tones of hysteria you'd expect, even the one ("Tomorrow's Drivers") in which kindly "storyteller" Jimmy Stewart tells us about how teaching kindergartners driving skills means they don't freak out at sixteen when they're behind the wheel of real cars. ("Late model" ones, apparently, not the thirty-year-old Buick I probably would have driven if I'd taken drivers' training in school.) "Red Nightmare" doesn't rate Jimmy Stewart, but Jack Webb does inform us that one of the possible terrible fates Communism might force upon you is your daughter (Pat Woodell) running off with Peter Brown, who was Tom Hamilton in [i]Summer Magic[/i]. And you'd better believe that "LSD: Insight or Insanity" shows the requisite shots of malformed hamster fetuses and such. Oddly, "Know for Sure" may well be among the calmest of the bunch, assuming that you'll want to come in early for diagnosis and treatment of syphilis so you don't spread it to hundreds of other people. Which, to be fair, I would. I've seen a better collection of sex ed films with puppets in the corner. "Facts of Life" was promoting a pair of pamphlets I vaguely want to read, but the guy talking was so slimy and so steeped in misinformation (the rhythm method? really?) that I couldn't take it anymore. I'm really much more interested in classics such as "Is This Love?" and "What to Do on a Date." For one, they aren't trying to sell us anything. For another, it kind of irks me that the collection is called [i]Chalkdust Memories[/i] when there's a review on Amazon (practically the only product information I could find) which tells me that "Facts of Life" was actually intended to be shown at a drive-in. I recently read a book about the governmental role in sex ed, so I know finding films aimed at young people from the era the movie is really covering is difficult--but then why have them at all? Why not nutrition or something? And I must, in the end, take issue with something said Amazon review claims. I don't think "Weed" is really a "scared-straight" take on marijuana use. It's from that great font of educational shorts, the fine people at Encyclopedia Brittanica. (I've probably seen more Centron educational shorts, but not by much. And Centron brought us [i]Carnival of Souls[/i]!) And, pretty much unique of the collection, it is the one intended to actually educate. It does have clips from [i]Reefer Madness[/i]--but to point out how ludicrous it is. The short talks a little bit about everything; it is actually a microcosm, at least to me, of what a good documentary about marijuana should entail. It says some things about the history of the plant and drug both. Attitudes toward it, too, including a couple of very calm cops saying how ridiculous it is that possession of a single joint--"a roach!" one emphasizes--is a felony. Indeed, while the short says that understanding of long-term effects of marijuana is scanty, the thing is most wants you to be scared of [i]is[/i] prison, which the short seems to think shouldn't be the outcome for simple possession anyway.
I watched this movie because I like all those corny outdated educational films they used to show you in school. The only reason this film doesnt get five stars is because some of the films were a tad too long. I was expecting a compilation of the ten minute hygiene, sex ed, and driver's ed films they used to show you in class but many of these films were the longer ones. Three of the best ones on this compilation was the classic 'Duck & Cover", "Red Nightmare" hosted by Jack Webb, and "LSD- Insight or Insanity' narrated by Sal Mineo
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