School Daze

The curiosities of campus life, from WWII to the Vietnam War era, come to the fore in this quickie survey of quirky college films.

Negro Colleges in Wartime (U.S. Office of War Information, 1944). Labor shortages in World War II brought about the opportunity for African Americans to enter technical and scientific work. This film shows unusual images of people of color being trained at traditionally white institutions. (8:16 mins, B&W)

This Charming Couple (Willard Van Dyke, 1950). A female student from Missouri and an "exotic" Louisianan professor fall in love. Will their marriage survive? This cautionary parable wanders through postwar "bohemian" college life in a manner unlike most other educational films. (18:46 mins, B&W)

The Home Economics Story (Iowa State University, 1951). Made to recruit students to Iowa State's Home Economics department, this promo is a vivid evocation of fifties college life. Criticized for short-selling the rigor of the program, the film depicts a gendered sense of science in which physics classes teach toaster-testing. (23:51 mins, Color)Brink of Disaster (Jerry Fairbanks Productions, 1972). Set in a college library besieged by student "hooligans," this film, made to educate college audiences, criticizes 1960s student radicalism, freedom of speech, black nationalist movements, and much more. (28:29 mins, Color)

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