The National Archives hosts countless educational films that have come from the military throughout the ages. If you want to learn about declassified nuclear testing, they’ve got it. If you want to learn how to properly resist communist propaganda, they’ve got that, too. If you want to learn the 1960’s way of wooing women, you better believe the U.S. Military has wasted money on making those videos, too.
First, in the filmmaker’s defense, videos that covered overall health and general well-being weren’t uncommon at the time. It should also go without saying that the advice the narrator gives — likely with the best of intentions — is a product of its time. There are a few gems in there that, by modern standards, are cringe-inducing, like, “treat her as an equal. Women love that!”
The first film in the series, Blondes Prefer Gentlemen, is a play on the Marilyn Monroe film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The 15-minute instructional movie follows two different midshipmen as they go on a date with a blonde (the narrator clarifies that the advice works for all women, regardless of hair color. Good to know). One midshipman, Charlie, shows all the “Don’ts.” Jack showcases all the “Dos.”
There’s actually plenty of legitimate advice in this film for fine dinning etiquette, including which fork to use during fancy dinners, how to start a proper conversation that engages everyone at the table, how to place unused silverware during the meal, and how to not be an arrogant prick during a three-course meal.
The second video is a bit more, uh, of the times. If you only watch the first three minutes of How to Succeed with Brunettes, you could get the wrong impression. It joking plays off the “don’t” list before explaining all the ways things went wrong. Instead of spending the rest of the film on ways to actually “succeed” with your date, it instead tells you how to properly present her to your superior officer.
Of course, they sprinkle in nice, gentlemanly advice, like walking on the curbside of the sidewalk, opening doors for your date, and letting her pick a place to sit in the movie theater — you know, actual advice. Then, things take a nosedive directly back into, “here’s how you present your date to the Admiral.”
Give these videos a watch and appreciate how far we’ve come.