Those 50's "educational" films

I remember the red balloon one. What the heck was it about anyway? The story never seemed to go anywhere. It was like a bad student film from the Netherlands or something.

BTW, what was the film the girls saw when they sent all us guys out to play kick ball?

Is this it? The Red Balloon, or, Le Ballon Rouge, from 1956. Even though it’s got about three words of dialog, it won an Oscar for best screenplay in 1957.

One of my strongest memories of those Bell Systems films was one day, the projector’s take-up reel wasn’t turning. Unknown to everyone, including the teacher, 400 or so feet of phone company-sponsored celluloid was slithering on the floor in a huge snarl.

Does anybody else remember The Extraordinary World of Zinc with its cool, “jazzy” soundtrack and stopmotion animations? Haven’t seen it in a million years, but unless I am mistaken, they parodied it in a Simpsons episode.

Jimmy: I can’t stand to live in a world like this!
::click::
Man: Sorry, Jimmy. That gun won’t work without zinc.
Jimmy: Zinc! ZINC!!

I’ve seen that! One of the math teachers at the high school I went to likes to show it at least once a year, probably because HE watched it as a kid.

Yeah, that’s the one! The cast of characters in your link cracked me up. It should have said, “And starring the balloon as itself.” I wonder if Netflix has it.

…or the more psychotic “A Case of Spring Fever” with Coily, the spring sprite.

“No springs!”

[crow]Cheating. A Centron production. But we got the idea from someone else. Because we’re cheating.[/crow]

I remeber these films…the projector wasrun by some dork/teacher’s pet who everybody hated! In our school, we had an ancient projector,and the sound system would frequently fail…which made most of the dialogue unintelligible!
But the best films I remember were those shown by the US Navy! The ones dealing with VD were hilarious! In fact the guy showing the film to us was a master chief P.O., probably 20 years in the Navy…he was laughing his head off!

Uhh… that was me.

Okay, that sounded too wussy… what I should’ve said is:

… ENVIED! We got “Lab Assistant/Projectionist” hall passes, where teachers would just wave at us (as equals, it seemed).

No one ever questioned why we were wandering around (eating a piece of pie, drinking a chocolate malt, reading a comic book… all while peeking into classrooms and making faces at your friends).

We also had a Lab Assistant “clubhouse” (okay, office) with all the techno-toys and a vending machine.

But most importantly, we were the only ones who could keep those old 16mm projectors running. And show you “Hemo” with the proper 3.5 cm of take-up loop so that the film didn’t chatter.

And the babes (well, maybe a geeky fanboy or two) were in awe of us.

Okay, that sounded too wussy… what I should’ve said is:

… ENVIED! We got “Lab Assistant/Projectionist” hall passes, where teachers would just wave at us (as equals, it seemed).

No one ever questioned why we were wandering around (eating a piece of pie, drinking a chocolate malt, reading a comic book… all while peeking into classrooms and making faces at your friends).

We also had a Lab Assistant “clubhouse” (okay, office) with all the techno-toys and a vending machine.

But most importantly, we were the only ones who could keep those old 16mm projectors running. And show you “Hemo” with the proper 3.5 cm of take-up loop so that the film didn’t chatter.

And the babes (well, maybe a geeky fanboy or two) were in awe of us.

ahhh…films! Nothing was better than coming in from lunch and seeing the projector set up. Even the most mundane, boring, stupid film was better than any teacher when you were in the second grade.

But I remember very few of them. One film I recall was supposed to impress upon us the importance of good handwriting. The climax came when a woman had meant to order some shirts for her husband, but they got skirts instead, all because of her lousy penmanship.

From high school I remember the usual mix of history, anti-drug, and sex ed topics. By that age I was more cynical, but still thought the films were a great way to spend a lesson. The inherently attractive nature of film tended to grab the attention of even the rowdier kid, so everyone was really focused.

I think nowadays they don’t have films in school, anymore. Don’t they just wheel in a big TV and play a video? That’s not at all the same thing; you can’t see it well from the back of the room, and it’s just like what you have at home, so there’s no sense of magic about it. It’s too bad for today’s kids.

Didn’t Disney make a film called “The Story of Menstruation”, which we girls had to watch while the boys were sent out of the room?

It was probably the animated short on female reproduction (ie, getting your period) co-produced by Disney & Kotex. I must’ve gone to a surprisingly progressive Catholic school in the 60s, because they showed that to the guys, too.

You’re absolutely right. There was something magical about film that video is lacking. I miss the clatter of the film reels, even the sense of heat from the lamp if you got to sit close. Video was cool, but just not the same.

Dear OP, this morning I saw the Prelinger Archive and all I could say was:

Jumping Jehosaphat Yeehah!

What a timewasting total delight! :smiley:

I graduated from high school about three years ago, and I remember watching a filmstrip in my senior year… I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about, but I do recall everyone being suprised about seeing a film strip projector again. So they are still around… Though this might say more about the funding of my school more than the persistent use of neat yet outdated technology…

When I was in third grade (ca. 1974) we were shown a “Why Strangers are Evil” type film in the gymnasium. It was dated even then and I don’t remember the name of it, but it was in color and it scared the hell out of me. A little girl (who may or may not have been Dodie* from My Three Sons but I remember thinking how much she looked like her) is playing hopskotch while singing a song about roosters and hens when a well dressed man offers her candy. He takes her and her friend into the woods where they have a picnic. Somehow the friend catches wise and runs and gets away but the Dodie-like girl doesn’t. What he does to her isn’t shown but the last scene is of her shoe floating down a gulley while the soundtrack replays the rooster/hen song she sang earlier. Thirty years later and it still gives me goosebumps.

Here’s what’s terrifying, and this really happened in my conservative Christian school: the people presenting the film asked if there were any kids present younger than 3rd grade. If so, they were asked to leave. Then they told us “We’re now going to show you that real little girl’s body…” and THEY F8CKING DID! It wasn’t horribly graphic as in rotten.com or other horrible sites, but it was enough to give all of us nightmares for the next three decades.

Of course that afternoon I remember playing dodgeball at recess. One of the kids held up the big red ball and said “Hey, this looks like that little girl’s head!” and we all laughed and kicked it around like we were French Revolution peasants playing royal decapitation soccer, but we were disturbed nevertheless.

Did anybody else ever see this film? I’d love to know I didn’t imagine it.

PS- Dodie from My Three Sons was/is in real life the sister of rock supernova Leif Garrett and, also irl, was at the height of her success the object of a pedophilic stalker (who, thankfully, never actually got near her).