There are an inordinate number of vintage instructional videos currently on YouTube. The videos were all developed by legitimate educational production companies, like McGraw Hill Text-Films and Coronet Instructional Films starting in the ’40s, tackling the topics of dating, love, and marriage by way of personality, grooming, and controlling your emotions. It’s all very confusing.
1. Dating: Do’s and Don’ts (1949)
YouTube description: Classic instructional film for teen daters, presented here in the rare (but incomplete) Kodachrome version.
Alternate description: The main character is trying to find a date to the Hi-Teen Carnival Saturday. Also, his name is Woody.
2. How to Be Well Groomed (1949)
YouTube description: Siblings Don and Sue show how they keep themselves well groomed throughout the school week and for their Friday night dates.
Alternate description: Polishing your shoes is a vital step in preparing for your date.
3. How Do You Know It’s Love? (1950)
YouTube description: Gives students a basis for thinking clearly about real love and shows that mere conviction of love is not enough to insure lasting happiness. A drama.
Alternate description: The love interest, Jack, says, “I tell ya, Bob, I haven’t dated any girl but Nora in two months. We’re really in love.”
4. Are You Ready For Marriage? (1950)
YouTube description: Two teenagers, wishing to marry early, visit their minister for advice and receive counseling, some of it quite pragmatic, the rest a little strange.
Alternate description: The girl tells the minister that they’re right for each other because in all the three months they’ve been together, they haven’t had any quarrels. The minister replies, “No quarrels? Why not? No differences of opinion? Or no opinions?” Yes, even a priest thinks this girl is boring.
5. How Much Affection? (1957)
YouTube description: How far can young people go in petting and still stay within the bounds of personal standards and social mores?
Alternate description: The mother in this video could explain anything and make it sound brilliant.
6. Going Steady (1951)
YouTube description: Attempts to provoke teens into discussion on the complex issue of going steady. Provides little support for the practice. Coronet Instructional Film.
Alternate description: After asking a girl to a dance, and her rejecting him because “everybody knows” he’s going steady with her friend, he thinks to himself: “Going steady? Everybody knows? Everybody but me. Am I going steady? What does that mean? How did I get into this anyway?” He’s very reflective.
7. Control Your Emotions (1950)
YouTube description: Well-balanced emotions help to create a well-rounded personality, especially in teenagers.
Alternate description: Emotions are compared to fire in an extended metaphor that I think is extended slightly too far.
8. Improve Your Personality (1951)
YouTube description: A helpful little film that teaches you how to get what you want.
Alternate description: Apparently “personality” used to be a euphemism for boobs. In one scene, two guys watch a young woman pass, ogle her, and say “Boy, does she got personality.” All that’s lacking is a suggestive cupping of the hands over his chest.
9. Boys Beware (1955)
YouTube description: Anti-homosexual film targeted at teenage boys, urging them to avoid encounters with potential molesters. Sad document to the bigotry that persists today.
Alternate description: This one is sort of horrifying, but it’ll make you feel good about how far we’ve come (no matter what the YouTube description says). Note to 1955: Pedophiles are not homosexuals; they’re pedophiles.
10. Groucho Marx on The Dating Game (1967)
YouTube description: The bizarre and hysterically funny spectacle of Groucho Marx’s appearance on The Dating Game (Jun 17, 1967). This was a special Father’s Day show where Groucho was given the chance to interview the bachelor contestants to find a suitable partner for his daughter, Melinda. Must be seen to be believed.
Alternate description: This isn’t exactly a vintage dating advice video, but it is a primitive version of MTV’s hideous Parental Control. Groucho asks the three guys a variety of questions and decides they’re a bunch of “third-rate comics.” Actually, they hold their own with him. Must be seen to be believed.
Image via Veer