RVOD119 Mealtime Manners and Health

(1957, Educational-Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

Bad manners cause cancer.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

Mealtime manners don’t happen at mealtime, and have little to do with health.


The offspring of grant money and a deadline.Phil says “please” and “thank you” to the lunch ladies in the school cafeteria, but this token display of manners isn’t enough to get him a coveted invitation to sit with children many years his junior. Phil becomes morose upon being passed over for this great honor. He walks home slowly, arriving too late to eat with the rest of the family.

His father makes him change to a different television station while he eats, then makes him turn it off entirely. They have a heart to heart talk about nothing in particular that changes Phil’s whole outlook on life. Suddenly he’s doing dishes, chatting up his tablemates and holding the chair for his mother. His mealtime conscientiousness spills over into all aspects of his life in seemingly arbitrary ways, and eventually the powerful School Mealtime Seating Arrangements cartel takes notice. They call to offer him a prestigious position as a Parents’ Night Dinner server.


This isn’t one of those anti-education films that barrage you with a jumble of information and force you to “draw your own conclusions.” Mealtimes Manners and Health very clearly says what it wants you to do, and how you should go about doing it. Or, more accurately, it very clearly says that it wants you to do something, and that there are ways to do the thing that it wants you to do.

As to the exact nature of this “thing,” well, I’m not sure, but I think that the message is, “Being considerate of others helps you digest.” The examples they show have to do with... Being able to sit with the little kids in the lunch room? Watching educational programs instead of Westerns? Watching nothing instead of educational programs? Currying favor to gain extracurricular scholastic mealtime responsibilities? Oh, well. I guess the title is accurate in that the short depicts several mealtimes, touches lightly on the subject of manners, and once or twice somebody mentions health.

A few favorite comments: As the narrator goes on and on about the requirements of mealtime manners, Bill reminds him, “Food also helps.” After the narrator declares that an information-free father-son chat and an inexplicable shot of a rabbit has changed Phil’s whole outlook on life, Mike adds, “The rabbit footage awakened his inner Furry.” As Phil struggles to expand his set of acceptable situations to apply mealtime manners, Kevin says, “Mealtime manners consumed every facet of Phil’s life.” On its own, the short is dull in an incoherent sort of way. With the rifftrax crew to spice up the dull part a little, it turns out fairly decent.