1950s Film Noir Character Education Filmstrip on Cheating

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This absorbing vintage film explores the issue of cheating in school. John, a Student Council representative, is having trouble with algebra. He knows he has to maintain his good grades for his social status, so he gets his girlfriend Mary to allow him to copy from her answers on a test. Later, after he’s been caught, his fellow students come down on him hard, eventually punishing him by kicking him off the Student Council. What makes this film different from others of its ilk is the Film Noir quality that the film employs to heighten tension and fear. The characteristics of film noir are ever present. The beginning is quite dark and scary, with a young boy's loneliness, with many different close ups of a phone, faces, and disembodied voices. And of course, shadows and sharp angles are focused on with the stark black and white picture exploding off the screen. As this was part of the Discussion Problems in Group Living series, this film focuses not on what the adults do to John, but on what his peers think of his actions, and whether they will offer peer support or more peer pressure. This series of films was made specifically to stimulate discussion among young audiences who viewed it, instead of making rigid pronouncements about what is right or wrong. Cheating on tests in school is an ever growing issue and it's fascinating to see how cheating was perceived in the 1950's.

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