RVOD117 Building Better Paragraphs

(1953, Educational-Short, b&w)


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

A follow-up to Making Paragraphs Worse.

Rating: **1/2

In a Nutshell:

Three school kids write about a dog show.


A kid standing next to the teacher.  This is about as exciting as it gets.A schoolgirl and her dog win a trophy at the local dog show, and she’s so excited that she brings the trophy to class. Her admiring classmates suggest she write an article about it for the school paper. She becomes shy and unwilling. The teacher asks for volunteers to write the article for her. Janet, Bill and Charlie offer their services.

Janet, Bill and Charlie interview the dog trophy winner, then throw a bunch of random information in a pile and call it good. The teacher looks it over and guides them in pruning out the unnecessary facts while arranging the rest in chronological order. A bit more tweaking and a snazzy concluding sentence (for a given value of “snazzy”) and their work is done. On that one paragraph. Now they have to write four more. D’oh!

The teacher invites the audience at home to help them write the rest of the article, using the paragraph-building principles demonstrated.


I enjoy building paragraphs of my own from time to time, but as a visual subject it’s not all that interesting. Spicing it up with dogs and photograph arrangement doesn’t seem to help as much as the filmmakers thought it would. Maybe a few car chases? A homicidal maniac or two? Perhaps at the end, Major the dog could be turn out to be a slavering Marmaduke-esque fiend from hell, hungry for human flesh. That’d make a great concluding sentence.

A few favorite comments: When the children read through their feeble first effort, the teacher says, “There’s something wrong with it. What is it?” “The incredibly dull topic?” Mike suggests. While they iron out the paragraph’s chronology, Bill advises, “Remember, a bland sentence is a happy sentence.” Near the end, Kevin thinks that the end result will “blow the lid off blood doping at community dog shows.” The short clearly demonstrates that creating paragraphs is more enjoyable than watching others create them, and the riffers don’t quite overcome this.