Back in the early '80s, right before the VCR cart became a staple in the classrooms, we were still watching movies on a reel to reel projector. Most of the times it would be an outdated film from the 50's to 70's about science or nature. But sometimes we would actually watch short films. Films that taught us morality lessons. It's these movies I want to talk about. THE BOY WHO LIKED DEER (1975)
Of all the films here, I think I've met more people who remember this one the most. This film has a sucker punch to the nuts ending you will never forget. I was shown this movie in fourth grade and it's still burnt into my brain. At the time OVER THE EDGE was being shown on Showtime constantly, and this was the antithesis to that. A film about how being a vandal, and destroying things will lead to a karmic retribution. And karma is a motherfucker.
That ending. Something that would never be shown to kids today. This short was directed by directed by Barbara Loden, who had an interesting career. She started out as a pin-up and magazine model. Later she would go on to raise funding for her own feature film, WANDA, which was released theatrically, but unfortunately didn't make it's money back. Then she went on to make two shorts for Learning Corporation of America, this one, and THE FRONTIER EXPERIENCE in 1975. Both WANDA and THE FRONTIER EXPERIENCE are available on YouTube.
THE SHOPPING BAG LADY (1976)
This is an award-winning film with a nice message for young adults, but should never be shown to a group of first graders. Three times!
In first grade, during rainy days our P.E. teacher would take us to the cafeteria to watch films. This was one of those movies. After the film, the entire class of first graders was in tears. One girl was crying so hard she started hyperventilating and had to go to the nurse's office. So, what does our ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS Phys. ed. teacher do? Show it to us two more times! (Different days.) She tried to show it a fourth, but after our grumblings, she took a vote whether to watch it or put our heads down for quiet time. And we voted for quiet time!
THE SHOPPING BAG LADY isn't a bad film at all. It's made for pre-teens. And even they shouldn't be subjected to it multiple times. Mildred Dunnock (THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY) plays the titular character. She's amazing in this and has an impressive filmography. Bert Salzman the writer and director made this after having his previous classroom film for Learning Corporation of America win an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.
ANGEL AND BIG JOE (1975)
I wanted to include this one because I just discovered it. The maker of THE SHOPPING BAG LADY won an Academy Award for best live-action short. A classroom film from Learning Corporation of America won an Oscar. I have to include it. It's in no way or form traumatic. It's a sweet story. Paul Sorvino plays Big Joe.
Now let's head across the pond to Britain and turn the dial of WTF to 11.
This dose of trauma was funded by the British government. A group of young children are out playing Indian tribe on a local farm. One by one they're killed in horrible farming accidents. This short kind of reminds me of DALE & TUCKER VS. EVIL.
Did I just see a little kid drown in shit? Without question this film caused many nightmares. I'm sure little British kids stayed away from farms in droves.
The director of this John Mackenzie went on to direct a feature film, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, with Bob Hoskins. I haven't seen it, but I think I might soon. APACHES is a piece of WTF filmmaking, but it's a wonderful one. Supposedly it's also a favorite of Edgar Wright.