The Educational Archives, Vol. 4: On the Job [DVD] [2002]

The Educational Archives: Volume Four -- On The Job is a collection of a dozen instructional films from the 1940's through the 1970's, devoted principally here to the theme of "Don't Let This Happen To You." We see businessmen botch their work in personnel relations and lose valuable employees, construction men make serious, sometimes fatal mistakes with their equipment, employees and their managers cope with the problem of office rumor mills, and foremen express their resentment at having to hire woman employees. The acting throughout most of these films ranges from seamlessly professional to the guilessly amateurish and ridiculously unskilled, but none of the shortcomings really matters -- it's the message that is the concern of these movies, and when you come away from watching this disc, you're likely to have a lot more respect for the operators of heavy equipment, at least. In the most harrowing of these short films, workers slip, trip, fall, and injure themselves (in slow-motion); in "Shake Hands With Danger" (the latter set to a Johnny Cash-style country music theme), accidents that injure and maim are presented in vivid detail. That's the good stuff here -- the laughable material includes "Barbers And Beauticians," which reminds us that those two fields have a venerable past going back 6000 years; "How To Keep A Job" is also mighty funny, depicting the geekiest prospective employee in the known universe trying to explain why he was let go from his previous situation. Most of what's here comes from the McGraw Hill Films library, and has the usual scratches and flaws -- especially on the older titles -- that one expects to find; it's also curious to note that "All Together," among the most recent of the dozen titles here, tries so hard to reach out to Black viewers, that it ends up becoming comically self-conscious, like the instructional film equivalent of the most myopic Black exploitation featurss of the early 1970's. There aren't any special features other than the optional "Classroom Experience" setting, which runs the movies with a 16mm projector sound and sprocket noises on the soundtrack. The menu opens automatically on start-up, and is very easy to maneuver around -- each movie gets a single chapter marker, and there's an entertaining insert in the disc package as well.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Over 2 hours of digitally mastered shorts from original 16mm prints
  • Notes on each film by collection curator SKip Elsheimer of the A/V Geeks Educational Fillm Archive
  • Optional "classroom experience" Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack

Synopsis

Educational Archives: On the Job
This release compiles workplace safety films. Due to their earnestness and occasionally graphic content, these films continue to have a cult following. Included are films with the titles Shake Hands with Danger, The Trouble with Women, When You Grow Up, and How to Keep a Job. Films like these often became fodder for the satirical program Mystery Science Theater 3000. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

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