Films You Saw in School

A Critical Review of 1,153 Classroom Educational Films (1958–1985) in 74 Subject Categories


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About the Book

Millions of dollars in public funds were allocated to school districts in the post–Sputnik era for the purchase of educational films, resulting in thousands of 16mm films being made by exciting young filmmakers. This book discusses more than 1,000 such films, including many available to view today on the Internet. People ranging from adult film stars to noted physicists appeared in them, some notable directors made them, people died filming them, religious entities attempted to ban them, and even the companies that made them tried to censor them. Here, this remarkable body of work is classified into seven subject categories, within which some of the most effective and successful films are juxtaposed against those that were didactic and plodding treatments of similar thematic material. This book, which discusses specific academic classroom films and genres, is a companion volume to the author’s Academic Films for the Classroom: A History (McFarland), which discusses the people and companies that made these films.

About the Author(s)

Geoff Alexander is the author of multiple books on cinema and popular culture. He is the founder and director of the Academic Film Archive of North America in San Jose, California.

Bibliographic Details

Geoff Alexander

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 292
Bibliographic Info: 86 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7263-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0571-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Thomas G. Smith 1
Preface 5
List of Abbreviations 11
One Social Science and Geography Films 13
Two History Films 80
Three Science and Math Films 123
Four Arts and Crafts Films 169
Five Literature and Language Arts Films 195
Six Sociodrama Films 223
Seven Foreign Language Instructional Films 237
Appendix A: 209 Films Available for Free Viewing Online 249
Appendix B: Requiem 256
Chapter Notes 257
Bibliography 263
Index 265

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “recommended”—Choice
  • “recommended”—ARBA
  • “a thorough, fascinating assessment of the cinematic prowess and educational substance of nearly every classroom film over a period of almost 30 years”—
  • “Putting together jigsaw puzzles affords a particular pleasure: that of finding a piece that fits the hole in the middle of an almost fully assembled section of the picture…Alexander’s new book performs just such a function for an emerging cluster of scholarly publications on nontheatrical media, interlocking but not overlapping with these other works and filling in a blank space in the critical examination of twentieth-century commercial film production”—The Moving Image