(1951, Educational-Short, b&w)
Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy
So, his parents are telling him to screw around.
In a Nutshell:
Going steady with someone is something you definitely either should or should not do.
Jeff and Marie’s relationship consists of him showing up at her house several times a week to hang out. She encourages this behavior by waiting forlornly on her doorstep during every daylight hour not occupied by school. Because this has gone on for several months now, their friends and families assume they’re “going steady”.
When separately informed of their attachment status (she by her mother, he during a rather pathetic attempt to ask out another girl) both react with shock and trepidation. I mean, just because they spend their every scrap of spare time together and haven’t dated anyone else in months, it doesn’t mean they’re dating, you know, exclusively.
Fortunately, the friends/family are still there to offer advice. Jeff’s parents want him to continue to “go steady” with Marie, as well as any other girl who happens to catch his fancy. (I’m pretty sure they don’t mean for him to go steady with all of them at once, but that’s just a guess based on what I know about the social mores of fifties. Without context, it sounds for all the world like they’re encouraging their son to be a playa.) A friend, on the other hand encourages Marie to wrap Jeff around her finger and not let him date anyone else until she gets bored of him.
Our protagonists mutter their various advice-givers’ vague platitudes in preparation for their Serious Talk, a brief exchange of words that resolves nothing whatsoever.
The short ends with a title card that says, among other things, “This film has not answered your questions.” I wasn’t aware I was supposed to have any. The short itself poses no query beyond the one they imply by placing a question mark behind the title, and even that isn’t so much a question as it is an indication of question-ish-ness. Going Steady has no new information to put forward, no discernable goal, no action that the filmmakers would like the audience to take upon completion of the viewing. It’s as if a Driver’s Ed film showed a montage of cars, narrated a bit about their paint color and number of tires, and then ended with an enigmatic exhortation to “discuss the problem of vehicle operation amongst yourselves”. In terms of “going steady” specifically and dating in general, the sixties seem to have demonstrated the target audience’s willingness to figure things out on their own.
As a subject of mockery, Going Steady works reasonably well. When the short starts out with its titular query, Mike retorts, “Quite the busybody, aren’t you 1950s educational short?” When a character asks how old a person should be to go steady, Bill replies, “Old enough to resent it.” While Marie and her friend discuss how to prevent petting, Kevin suggests, “Planting anti-personnel mines in your underwear helps.” It’s a staid if puzzlingly off-the-mark short, but decent riffing makes for fun viewing.
(1951, Educational-Short, b&w)