austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

But it's been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise

There's A Message In A Bottle is a 1960s short subject made by someone in Ohio to combat the scourge of teenage drinking, so, good job getting that wrapped up, Ohio. I figure it must date to between 1965 and 1967 because Project Gemini footage appears. It has to have been made after 1965 since footage of a Gemini spacewalk appears. It can't have been after 1967 because it uses a Gemini-Titan launch, and they wouldn't use that if Saturn V footage were available.

Raising the question: where does a mental hygiene film about teenage drinking get off showing Gemini program footage? The short follows a quartet of relentlessly chipper, white teens as they do teen things like ride water-skis or toast marshmallows or such, and then into a diner to show what happens when they use their fake IDs to buy some drinks. (The teens helpfully point out that it's important you memorize all the data on your fake ID, since they'll get suspicious if you can't reel off the addresses or phone numbers or whatnot.) And as they drink cocktails the movie shows the illusion of feeling good that people take on. They get to the restaurant where the waitress notes how very young every one of them looks (``aren't you a little young to have been in the Marines?'' ``Want me to tell you some war stories?'') and despite their utter inability to put on a convincing act (``we're not trying to pull something'') the waitress serves them their old-fashioned and those other drinks of the 60s.

Thus the fantasy sequences. One of the kids gets to feeling he's high as an astronaut (an Air Force astronaut, not NASA, by the way), showing him putting on a space suit and climbing into a launch gantry (well, using NASA footage here) and there, a Gemini launch and spacewalk and such.

There are other fantasy sequences too. One fantasizes about being at a red-carpet opening of ... I guess it's more a department store than a movie. I don't know. Another kid fantasizes about being in Jungle Larry's animal show. This I recognize a an Ohio thing because bunny_hugger told me of the days when it was part of the Cedar Point experience. I image but obviously don't know whether this used the actual Jungle Larry cage, though it looks pretty small even to hold one tiger, two stands, and a teenager.

The short goes on to explain that when the alcohol wears off, your fantasies fade away and you've shown how you're weak and lack self-control, so, it shows the kids in the restaurant dressing in Little Lord Fauntleroy outfits, carrying balloons, and marching around the restaurant. This demonstrates that whatever else teenage drinking may do, it encourages state mental hygiene filmmakers to experiment with hallucinogens.

As a result of the kids drinking illegally the restaurant gets raided and shut down, restaurant-owner Joe Flaherty is forced out of business, the staff is thrown out of work, the restaurant building is stripped for the fixtures and whatnot, and the town goes downhill, the kids can't get into college because this is on their record, and they'll never get decent jobs with a police record, and before you know it Funky Winkerbean starts visiting. And it's all teenagers' fault.

To add to the general 'huh?' of all this, the image of a liquor bottle appears over and over in the teens' hands. It has faces painted on it, many of which resemble Mark Trail.

Trivia: Hungary adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1587, dropping the dates from 22-31 October to adjust from the Julian calendar. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation In Turn-Of-The-Century New York, M H Dunlop.

Tags: movies
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