In the past, I have occasionally shared old educational films here on the Shattered Lens. As everyone should know by now, I love history and these short films all serve as interesting time capsule of the era in which they were made. Seeing as how August is traditionally the time when students go back to school, I figured now would be as good a time as any to share some wisdom from the past.
The film below is from 1952. It’s called Cheating. It’s about what happens when John Taylor forces his friend Mary to help him cheat. When he gets caught, it not only harms Mary’s reputation but John soon finds his own position on the student council threatened! Oh, the horror!
Now, I have to admit that I enjoyed this short film because, as I’ve mentioned before on this site, I occasionally cheated on a few tests while I was in high school. But, beyond that, this film is interesting because it’s shot like a living nightmare, complete with crooked camera angles, expressionistic lighting, an atmosphere of existential dread, and an extremely judgmental narrator. Director Herk Harvey goes all out in his direction for this one. (Harvey is probably best known for later directing Carnival of Souls, his only feature film.)
Plus, there’s always the fun of listening to all those country accents. It may be tempting to make fun of the “actors,” all of whom seem to have picked out of a local high school drama class. But, there’s an authenticity to them that will make most viewers reconsider the importance of cinematic authenticity.
Anyway, the ultimate message here seems to be that you should only cheat if you know you can get away with it and that is a message that I happily endorse. It’s something that all students should keep in mind as they return to school this month.