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NFB kids: portrayals of children by the National Film Board of Canada, 1939-1989 Low, Brian John 1998

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NFB KIDS: PORTRAYALS OF CHILDREN BY THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA, 1 9 3 9 - 1 989 By BRIAN JOHN LOW B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1987 A THESIS IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Educational Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard. THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November 1998 (Q) Brian John Low, 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) II Abstract Social historians have been understandably wary of the contents of motion pictures. Their reticence to use film as a socio-historical document stems from a valid assumption that, since almost every film is to some degree a fictional construction, no film or group of films may be said to accurately reflect a society. In this study, however, a society is presented that a historian may credibly claim to be accurately represented by film since it exists wholly in film. It is the cinematic society created by the film archives of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). 'NFB society' is set in the 8,000 films produced since 1939 under the NFB mandate: "to interpret Canada to Canadians." Anchored physically, socially, and intellectually to the course of Canadian society and the state, this cinematic micro-society possesses a coherent Social history, which can be re-created by juxtaposing, synchronically and diachronically, films with like social scenarios. In so doing, patterns of social life, especially social relations in the micro-society may be observed in transience. NFB children play a significant role in this transience of NFB society, particularly in regard to dramatic changes in family, school, and community life which take place after the 1960s. Key to an explanation of the historical movement that develops within NFB families, schools, and communities are the 'progressive' socializing structures that replace traditional ones in the society in celluloid. Of particular interest are the social outcomes of the mental hygiene movement following its introduction into Film Board families in 1946 and schools in 1953. Over the decades of this study, the authority of NFB parents, teachers, and community leaders over the socialization of children is diminished by their adoption of the principles of mental hygiene, their influence over their children gradually supplanted by the influence of the cinematic state. NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada 1 9 3 9 - 1 9 8 9 T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S Abstract i i Table of Contents i i i Prologue v i CHAPTER 1: Children in a Cinematic Society Overview 1 Historiography of the National Film Board of Canada 2 Who are NFB kids? How and why should they be studied? 3 Overview of NFB Films containing portraits of children 6 Prior literature 11 Film as a historical document 1 3 Movement and a social history of NFB children 1 4 Cinematographic children in the century of the child 1 6 Research methodology 2 2 Secondary literature 2 3 Thesis sectioning: a progressive narrative emerges 2 5 NFB children in the 'mirror of Canada' 3 0 CHAPTER 2: Early NFB Society: The Eyes of Democracy Grierson: the formative years 3 7 Foundation of the British documentary film movement 4 3 Formation pf the National Film Board of Canada 4 5 NFB children: the earliest years 51 Children in NFB society: 1943-1946 5 3 Otherness and distinctiveness in early NFB society 5 7 Distribution of early NFB films 61 Grierson's departure 6 6 iv. CHAPTER 3: Lessons in Living: Deconstruction of a NFB Rural Community Overview of a wartime portrayal of Canadian children 7 6 Smoky Lane to Lantzville: from parable to production 8 0 Involvement of William Plenderleith 8 2 The penultimate script 8 4 Involvement of John Grierson 8 6 The ultimate script 8 7 Filming in Lantzville 9 0 Post-production and distribution: Nanaimo to Nova Scotia 9 2 Lessons for living in a 'progressive' democracy 9 5 CHAPTER 4: Fields of Vision, 1947-1967 Riddles of readjustment 103 Johnny at the Fair: early post-war portrayals 1 05 NFB children in the incunabulum of television 114 1950's NFB films for Canadian school children 116 Moppet Models: adult visions of early-1950s childhood 1 24 Joe and Roxy: a focus on adolesence in the late-1950s 129 The Threshold: citizenship and immigration 133 Refocusing on education in the late-1950s 1 35 Cinematic children in the 'changing present' 139 Beaver Dam: early-1960s social issues involving children 142 Indigenous reflections in the early-1960s 145 'A Saint-Henri le 5 septembre: the new ideal of Quebec youth 148 The technological invasion of schools 149 Merry-Go-Round: the sexual revolution and youth rebellion 154 The Shattered Silence: 1960s social realism and the adolescent 158 The Invention of the Adolescent 1 59 CHAPTER 5: The New Generation, 1946-1967 The mental hygienists 172 The post-war shift in NFB social relations 177 Four Families: Margaret Mead and the concept of independence training 1 80 Mental hygiene enters into NFB homes and schools 182 Ages and Stages: the Gesell Institute and NFB film philosophy 1 87 The problem with personality 189 Crestwood Heights: changing middle class childrearing practices 1 90 The problem with peers 1 94 Shyness/Child Guidance Clinic: 1950s mental health in schools 1 95 The World of Three: 1960s early-childhood 2 00 Flowers on a One Way Street: the 'new generation' revolution 2 03 CHAPTER 6: A Progressive State of Disequilibrium, 1968-1989 Ellen Key: The Century of the Child 2 1 4 Post-1950s psychological research into the family 2 1 8 The expansion of disequilibrium in NFB society 2 1 9 Parental/paternal retreat from the NFB family 2 2 0 Sir! Sir): an educational admonition 2 2 5 Rural and urban community differences 2 2 7 I'll Find a Way: planting a new equilibrium in NFB families 2 3 3 NFB schools mid-way through the baby boom generation 2 3 8 Teach Me to Dance: patriarchy in trouble 241 Feeling Yes; Feeling no: 1980's males in trouble 2 4 4 This is Me: rising relativism in 1970s NFB schools 2 5 0 Starbreaker (1984): revitalizing the wizard's planet 2 5 4 Head Full of Questions: the social invasion of the school 2 60 The Magic Quilt: a cinematic patchwork society 2 6 3 The New Generation and the Next Generation in NFB Society 2 6 6 CHAPTER 7: The Century of the Cinematic Child Before the beginning 2 83 NFB society in the beginning: the Grierson years 2 88 Post-war NFB society: re-rocking the cradle 2 90 In the middle: as the new generation matures 2 9 3 Flowers on a One Way Street revisited 2 9 6 At the end: new fruit, next flower 2 9 8 Epilogue 301 BIBLIOGRAPHY 311 APPENDICES: Filmography 3 1 9 Film Selection Process 3 2 4 Prologue "Kids!" laments a father in the NFB production Making a Decision in the Family (1957). "Sometimes its hard to know what to do." I frequently experienced a similar despair as I set about to organize the thousands of scenes of NFB kids I had viewed into a coherent study. In retrospect, I can see that I ultimately took the very advice that was offered to the father by the film's narrator. I tried not to interfere in the kids' cinematic lives, while seeking an enlightened understanding of their physical, social, emotional and intellectual development over the years. This study documents developments in both: the independent cinematic lives of NFB kids and my understanding of them. Brian J. Low June 1998 The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. - William Ross Wallace John o' London's Treasure Trove NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children bv the National Film Board of Canada 1 9 3 9 - 1 9 8 9 Chapter 1 Children in a Cinematic Society Hence, by a simple juxtaposition of a series of preserved images and a commentary relating the story vividly, a chapter of contemporary history is recreated. Marjory McKay "The Motion Picture: a mirror of time" NFB Annual Report. 1958-1959 Picture a society that exists solely in cinema, inhabiting urban, suburban and rural scenes in more than 8,000 films, a society preserved for a half-century in film emulsion (the cinematic equivalent of amber) and so well preserved that every individual and every family, every group, social organization and institution, every sight, sound and movement, every social relationship and social practice, every social issue, social goal, and social transformation exists still. Such a society exists; it is preserved by the archives of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) 1. Since its genesis in 1939, this society in celluloid has been amassing in the film vaults of the NFB, an evolving cinematic representation of Canadian society, its patterns of social development anchored physically, socially, and intellectually to the socio-historical development of Canadian society and the state. In fact, 'NFB society' has inherited much of the coherency of post-1930s Canadian social history and accurately 'mirrors' a myriad of the nation's wartime and posbwar social courses. During the war years alone, more than 300 films of 'ordinary' Canadian men, women and children were produced by the NFB, depicting citizens in the "intimate drama of their everyday lives," to employ the descriptive hyperbole of the founder of the Film Board, John I. 2. Grierson. Over the decades that followed, thousands of Canadians were filmed within the social contexts in which real Canadians lived their lives, in urban, suburban, and rural environments, at home or at work, while serving social purposes that would constantly evolve over the National Film Board's first half-century. Of diverse regional, cultural, and economic backgrounds, these 'Film Board Canadians' now fill the frames of thousands of miles of film preserved by the NFB archives, eternally engaged in the resolution of their social needs and in the pursuit of their social goals. It is thus somewhat remarkable that broad surveys of the NFB film archives have seldom been conducted by historians for the portrayals of the peoples of Canada they contain. That is, while reflecting critically upon the institution, its films and filmmakers, rarely have historians of the NFB made the subjects of their studies the actual subjects of the Film Board itself. 2 This study addresses the omission. It is an intellectual, cinematographic, and social history of the cinematic portrayals of Canadian children produced by the National Film Board of Canada from 1939-1989, a study of transitions in the imagery and narrative of 'NFB kids' within their families, schools, and communities. NFB Historiography Of the past historiography of the National Film Board, the vast majority of the print has been devoted to John Grierson, whose career and ideological development have been well documented, both by his disciples (Beveridge 1978; Hardy 1979) and his detractors (Nelson 1988; Pronay 1989) and by critics in Britain (Sussex 1975; Hardy 1979; Swann 1983; Pronay 1989), in America (Ellis 1968; Hardy 1979, Jarvie 1989; Aitken 1990), and in Canada (Mckay 1964; Morris 1965; Beveridge 1978; Evans 1984, 1989, inter a l ia l . 3 Grierson's inspiration, the wedding of social purpose to film, shaped the development of the 'documentary'-a term he in fact coined-as well as the course of the documentary film movement, a record of which may itself be seen whole in the archival holdings of the National Film Board of Canada. 3. Comprehensive histories of the National Film Board following the Grierson years have observed the institution from an administrative viewpoint (McKay 1964), a distributor's viewpoint (Gray 1973), from a structural perspective (Jones 1981), a film critic's outlook (Pratley 1987), a technological standpoint (Graham 1989), as a filmography (Bidd 1991) and from a political perspective (Evans 1991). In addition, variations upon the above perspectives have appeared in numerous essays over the decades in journals such as artscanada. Canadian Film Reader. Cinema Journal. Motion, Sight and Sound. Take One and the NFB Newsletter. "NFB Kids" charts a new direction in the historiography of the NFB and cinema. It explores the formation and progressive development of a society in cinema, 'NFB society", through an historical examination of three eras of NFB children-wartime, post-war, and post-1960s. The study describes the children themselves, and the physical and functional characteristics of social structures in which they appear 4 ; it records social relations and practices revealed by the children's movement and dialogue within those structures; and it determines, whenever possible, the social ends for which the portrayals were produced. It documents transitions in the portrayals of children by the NFB and offers an explanation for those changes based upon action within the films and the activities at the National Film Board, as well as contemporary events within Canadian society and the Canadian state. Ultimately, "NFB Kids" links transitions in post-war NFB childhood to the transience of NFB society after the late-1960s. The Children This chapter addresses three primary questions. Who are the children found in this 'micro-society' created by the archival film collection of the NFB? 5 How are they to be studied, and why should they be studied? The first is a question requiring an answer both for the children as images and as real beings, both in terms of the contexts in which they appear and the contexts from which they appeared. 4. Of the more than 8,000 films catalogued by the NFB, more than 700 contain portrayals of children significant enough to warrant mention in the catalogue synopses. Among these portraits are to be found representations of the population of Canadian children at large in terms of age, gender, class, ethnicity and regional diversity.6 The children are found in films sponsored by a variety of federal, provincial, and municipal government departments, as well as in films sponsored by public and private institutions, public service groups and agencies. They have been filmed on both black and white and colour sound stock. Some portraits are animated renderings of children in various media, but the vast majority are motion picture images of real infants, children and adolescents. The children filmed are both paid actors and unpaid non-actors (the great majority are non-actors) and they appear within the context of an array of structures and in a variety of documentary film types: public service and personal expression, cinema direct, docu-drama and alternative drama. As with the adults who appear in NFB productions, the infants, youth, and adolescents who appear in the films acting the roles of Canadian children are really, for the most part, Canadians. In fact, the long standing practice of the Film Board has been to cast non-actors who are involved in some way with a film project as the 'stars' of the film itself. Hence, the school children in a film about a rural New Brunswick school are quite likely the very children of that school acting in roles assigned to them by a NFB director; a Saskatchewan farm family portrayed at a dinner table are likely a Saskatchewan farm family; and a family of lighthouse keepers in British Columbia are most probably the very keepers of that lighthouse. This practice of employing the actual subjects of a film to play themselves, however, is far removed from being a hard and fast standard. Depending upon the film's subject and the film technique chosen for its treatment, local non-actors, professional actors, or a combination of the two may be used for a production. However, whether actors or non-actors, locals or not, invariably in a film about Canadian children, the children before the cameras are actually Canadians. 5. Secondly, the social issues addressed are equally Canadian ones. Whether it is a lecture on the benefits of providing nursery schools for Canadian mothers at work in wartime industries or on the nutritional requirements of their children; whether a lesson in overcoming recalcitrance to a Manitoba health care plan or in reducing community resistance to progressive education in British Columbia; whether issues of dental health in rural Ontario or issues of mental health in Toronto; the rights of skateboarders in Montreal suburbs or the problems of mobility faced by wheelchair children in Nova Scotia; whether assessing the emotional damage inflicted upon children by domineering mothers, or the damage caused children by fathers who abuse them; whether political issues of the day pr of the past; whether issues of culture or region; issues of gender or age; environmental issues, safety issues, labour or recreational issues-whether or not Film Board issues are exclusively Canadian, all the issues of 'NFB society' tend to be inclusively so and are seldom presented outside of a Canadian context. A third significant link between children in 'NFB society' and Canadian society is intellectual and found in the conception, organization and production of the films themselves. Since 1945, all NFB commissioners of film have been Canadian. Likewise, the vast majority of NFB filmmakers since the early 1940s have been selected from the educational, intellectual and artistic communities of Canada. Thus the filters of 'social thought and praxis' through which most NFB films have been conceived and produced were in the main fashioned from Canadian sensibilities and meant for Canadian sensibilities.7 Finally, while individual National Film Board portraits of children vary as to the degree they portray accurately any particular Canadian social scenario or structure, arranged diachronically the entire body of portrayals accurately describes a myriad of Canadian social courses. When 'real' Canadians go to war against fascism, 'NFB Canadians' are at war with fascism; when Canadian families flock to the suburbs, 'NFB families' move to the suburbs' as well; when shirt fashions change for Canadian boys, the changes are paralleled by the very 6. same trends with 'NFB boys'; when educational practices are being transformed in Canadian schools, 'NFB teachers' are at the forefront of the pedagogical changes. Unmistakably, the socio-historical development of 'NFB society' is firmly anchored to that of Canada's. Indeed, the coherency of the social history of NFB portrayals may be wholly attributed to its congruency with the social history of Canada, since there is no unifying vision behind the NFB archival film collection beyond the mandate of the National Film Board: "to interpret Canada to Canadians."8 A sampling of some of the biannual NFB catalogue synopses over the period of this study illustrates just how diverse the cinematic representations of Canadian childhood are-and just how markedly the texture of childhood in NFB society changes over the decades. The children described in the catalogues of the 1940s, for example, are taken to baby clinics, are innoculated, and eat nourishing lunches prepared by their mothers. They become sick from drinking unsanitary well water. They folk dance, become cadets, cut willow whistles, and sing in choirs. They visit dentists and go to nursery schools. They play on swings in a city park and watch ducks glide by on a pond. They play table tennis with their parents, attend summer camps, play marbles, Softball, and lacrosse. They hike and ski and sing 'Alouette' at their high school graduation party. They join army or navy cadets. They learn to play musical instruments. They watch films and listen to the radio. They cruise in boats and go blueberry picking with their families. They collect pennies and nickels to help needy children of the world. They join junior warden clubs and plant trees in deforested areas. As residents in hospitals for sick children, they suffer from spastics, polio, tuberculosis and heart conditions. They act in amateur theatre productions, commemorate the freeing of American negro slaves, wake up early on a Saskatchewan farm, or ride in the hood of their mother's parka. They get a nickel for every cod that their father catches. They join a 4H club, are members of the safety patrol, tour a natural history museum, and try their hand at art in the park. 7. The children described in the catalogues of the 1950s are more adventurous and more sophisticated. They learn techniques of poise, posture and good grooming. They play little league baseball, fall behind in their studies and attend summer school. They hitch-hike on a highway, caddy at a golf course. They undergo moral dilemmas, vacation with their family at Banff National Park, leap into the path of an oncoming car. They are adopted. They learn to be conscientious teen-age drivers, play ice hockey at the tiny 'atom' level, wear a kilt and play the bagpipes. They are accused of destructive behaviour and are denied the use of a community centre, join an 'angel choir' for a Christmas concert, experience 'the problems of adolescent emotional adjustment', wander alone on downtown streets at night, and are unhappy about their protruding teeth. They confirm their faith at a Bar Mitzvah, grow up in Vancouver's 'Chinatown', go to the Stanley Park Zoo, or sit on a sidewalk in Montreal and watch the Saint Jean Baptiste parade. They learn the techniques of textile manufacture to equip them for a lifetime occupation; they leam English as an immigrant, or learn to drive a hot-rod. They learn to play an instrument by the Carl Orff method, watch their grandfather build a wooden chair, study the world's great music. They travel on an immigrant train; they move from a squalid tenement into a low-rental housing project. They are rushed to a poison control centre, are born in an igloo, are treated for strabismus, ride into a logging camp on a big white horse, or sit on Santa's knee at a downtown department store. By the early 1960s, children are appearing in the catalogues in ever increasing numbers and cast in ever bolder narratives. They are found saving a family of beavers, clowning in a corner coke palace, grasping simple arithmetic relationships using Cuisenaire rods, and cheating on a test. They walk miles to a library in a prairie community. They sit in a circle in a kindergarten class. They spend a week at Camp Mohawk, cut their hair to answer a 'Boy Wanted' sign at a saddleshop, tease the animals at a zoo, and swim in a lake at the home of a computer scientist. They tour the Pacific National exhibition, go to school at a Hutterite colony, and get a taste of the life of a cowboy on a trail ride. They shriek and sob as they watch 8. Paul Anka sing. They go on a bird banding expedition, experience sibling rivalry, become a pregnant teenager, and use the same racial slurs in public that their parents use in private. They 'borrow' a parked motorcycle, spin, jump, and dance on figure skates, and wear the sweater of a famous hockey team. They display inventions at a science fair, or they take part in a soccer seminar. They travel 3,000 miles by train on a cross-Canada cultural exchange; they go along for the ride on their parents' second honeymoon. In the catalogues of the later 1960s, children fly kites and play with war toys. They are part of a noisy motorcycle gang, dance in a bra and mini-skirt at a beach party, or neck with a boyfriend while babysitting. They move into a new neighbourhood while their family is falling apart, catch their first fish, skip rope, tell secrets, or settle a score at recess time. They block Yorkville avenue with hundreds of other young people. They play badminton or volleyball, do a highland dance at the only Gaelic college in the world, enjoy an afternoon of skirling pipes and swinging kilts. They undergo puberty, are the single child of a single mother, or one of five children of a deserted mother on welfare. They step-dance to an accordion on Fogo Island, stage their own act for the television screen. They experiment in free-wheeling dramatic expression, roleplay being a teacher teaching teachers in a role-reversal, or make a film about themselves and their world: 'a world of sit-ins, love-ins, and animated discussions'. They skateboard down a steep hill with a friend on their shoulders. They witness the effect on their families of strains from the outside. They talk about the world as they see it: 'authority, drugs, social conflict and sex'. In the catalogue synopses of the early 1970s, the children's experiences vary widely. They vacation at their grandparents' cottage in Ontario, live an isolated life with lighthouse keepers on a coastal island in British Columbia, or are residents in a home for emotionally disturbed children. They are drawn out of the silent world of the deaf through technology; they attend public school despite having Spinabifida, live an active life although they can barely distinguish light from shadow. They learn mathematics from an 8mm single 9. concept film loop; they play the drums, write on the blackboard, and drive a car with their feet. They are paperboys who toss some of their newspapers with neat precision and others with deliberate carelessness; they deliver pizzas with a pull wagon, ferret out golf balls from the rough and sell them to passing golfers. They go on a tour of the national parks, face a tough initiation at a Catholic Boy's School, or look for a chemical solution to almost everything. Later in the decade, children appear in films organizing themselves to clean the countryside, while others engage in anarchy at a summer recreation centre. They are one of seven children of a welfare mother, or they are protected by their mother from both welfare agents and their father. They deal with parents who abused them, recover in a hospital from venereal infection, come across an unexploded bomb in a field. They suffer the effects of industrial pollution, torment a substitute teacher, or rubber raft with their parents down the Fraser River. They spend time in the burn unit of the Halifax hospital; they buy a gift for their destitute mother. They discuss morality, sexuality and birth control. They offer spontaneous views on God, the beginning of life, or what happens to one's spirit when one dies. They join with 1,000 other children to play ukeleles at a dockyard. Surveying catalogues printed during the early 1980s, one notices the preponderance of children now dealing with especially unique or troubling situations. They are the children of Krishna parents, children afflicted with scoliosis or curvature of the spine, children who attempt suicide when their parents don't trust them. One group of schoolchildren initiates a project to learn about garbage and its impact on the environment. Children fight for their life against leukemia. There is a child whose mother is a truck driver at an iron ore company, another whose mother is a veterinarian. There are teenaged boys who talk candidly about masculinity, live with an autistic or a schizophrenic brother, are moulded into leaders at Ridley College. Girls recall the kinds of pressures that they grew up with; they play ringette, want to race in a soapbox derby. They inform their mother that for six years they have been forced to have sex with their dad or with their stepfather. One foster child commits suicide. 10. In the second half of the 1980s, they are battered, neglected and sexually abused; they keep the family going despite the absence of an alcoholic father. They confide to friends about family members who watch or touch them; they hope for family reconciliation after divorce. They discuss the factors that influence their career choices: sex-role stereotyping, fear of failure, self-image, marriage, motherhood and family expectations. They break into homes and steal; they learn how to act with dignity in court. They struggle to get out of juvenile prostitution; they have genetic disorders never documented before; and they learn about the use of a condom. They deal with the pain of parental separation, find out about how the technological revolution will affect their career. They march against cruise missile testing over Canada; they discuss what to do if a stranger, a neighbour or someone living in the same house makes a request that "doesn't feel right." They make their dreams come true with the help of their friends. They are a forest of images, the children in the cinematic society. Over the half century span of this study, they have filled the frames of hundreds of miles of film and formed an immense social history recorded in motion pictures. But how is their history to be studied? In the historiography of childhood, for example, very little has been done with motion picture portraiture of children. This 1 1 . is a somewhat surprising situation since the contemporary foundations of the field are to a large degree based upon images. In his seminal work, Centuries of Childhood (1962) Philippe Aries developed a new perspective into the development of bourgeois society in Western Europe by observing transformations in children's portraits in the iconography of the late Middle-Ages and the renaissance. Hence, one might anticipate that changes in cinematic portrayals of children in Western cinemas would likewise reveal novel insights into the evolution of Western societies during the century of the motion picture, a century appropriately dubbed 'the century of the child.' 9 Prior Literature In the historiography that does makes cinematographic portrayals its subject, there are numerous studies of adult society-women in film, American Indians in film, blacks in fi lm-but few studies of children. Exceptions to this include work by Kathy Jackson (1986) who has provided a 'sociocultural analysis' of the themes of childhood in selected American feature films; Marjorie Keller (1986) who has analyzed childhood through the filter of Freud in the surrealist films of Cocteau, Cornell, and Brakhage; Andrea Darvi (1983) who has analyzed her own childhood as a Hollywood child actress; David Considine (1985) who has explored recurring narrative themes in popular films featuring adolescents; and Neil Sinyard (1992) who has celebrated artistry in motion picture portrayals of childhood. With the exception of Neil Postman, however, who observed in The Disappearance of Childhood (1982) that children are often portrayed in contemporary media in the manner of 13th and 14th century paintings (ie., as minature adults) there is little academic commentary in this body of literature about the social history of images of children in film, Nor is the larger body of literature about film theory and film history particularly illustrative of an tenable historical approach to such research. Work by film theorists such as Roland Barthes, Jean-Louis Baudry, Andre Bazin, Raymond Bellour, Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, Linda Williams, inter alia tend toward deconstructionist or Freudian semiotics by 12. which to interpret portrayals of film subjects. While these seem useful within film studies, from a historical perspective they range from being wildly relativistic to being too predictable to be plausible as frameworks for historical explanation. More mainstream film historiography has steered away from longitudinal studies of the subjects of films and toward studies linking cinematic history to issues of censorship and propaganda by the state (Ellwood 1987; Richards 1981; Stead 1981; Taylor 1981), to quantitative studies of audiences to determine the popular impact of films (Badsey 1983; Poole 1987; Smyth 1988) and to considerations of the validity of film as an historical resource (Cripps 1975; Fledelius 1989; Fielding 1987). In addition, there is a vast body of studies of historical events and individuals as they are portrayed in movies and newsreels, and a myriad of diverse studies of the structural history of the cinema itself, but few (and inevitably brief) are the scholarly historical accounts of the filmed portraits of any cultural, regional, economic or gender group-and rarer still any historical account of the filmed portraits of children. Nor has any historian of childhood, to date, produced a monographic study of images Of children in film--a somewhat inviting situation given that children have been the subject of cinematographers practically since the invention of the projecting motion picture camera by the Lumiere brothers in 1895 . 1 0 While a few contemporary childhood historians (see Beinart in Cooter, 1992, for example) have employed still photographs to interpret the changing social roles of children in society, and while the American socio-historian, Viviana Zelizer, (1985) has speculated upon the influence of cinematic images of children in the 'sacrilization' of childhood in twentieth century America, what is most apparent about the scholary work to date using filmed portraits of children is that very little has been under-taken. 1 3 . Film as a Historical Document In part, this neglect of cinema portraiture as a subject for social history is due to an uncertainty among historians in general about film as a historical document-specifically, what does it document? Although they seem seductively attractive as a resource, what physical, social or intellectual realities of any place or time can be credibly derived from motion pictures? Two streams of cinema historiography have evolved around this question: investigations into the production and reception of larger groups of films (of a genre, an era, an auteur, etc.) and analyses of single films. For both, the mainstream wisdom has been that since 'no film escapes fiction', films should be studied primarily for the attitudes that they forward into a society, rather than as credible reflections of that society. 1 1 Thus in examining single films (documentary or otherwise) a central methodology has been to reveal external events that bear upon the film, rather than the other way around. The analysis of a single film requires a thorough study of the circumstances of its creation-revelations of the direct authors of the film, the purpose for its production, and an analysis of all the accompanying documentation. Equally productive for the study of single films (especially documentaries) has been the study of the artifact as a propaganda enterprise, in which case distribution and audience information may be useful, as is the titling or soundtrack narrative of the film as these reflect the definite ideas of the film's authors. In examining larger groups of motion pictures, the principal focus of historians has likewise been upon the sociological intent of the cinema, especially the cumulative effect of regular exposure to strictly controlled stereotypes upon what has been, historically, a largely working class a u d i e n c e . 1 2 As historiography, this branch tends to document (and contemplate) the constant repetition of cinematic images that enforce the viewpoint of a dominant philosophy. A more recent preference for a 'history of mentalities', however, has also given currency to using broadly repeated patterns in a body of films to render historical impressions of a society. Such patterns which would validate, for example, the colouring of an 14. epoch to be established, such as the appearance of towns and villages, and the habits and mood of people-on the proviso that a consonance between the patterns in the films and the society they portray is demonstrated by the historian. In the main, this study of cinematic portrayals of children by the National Film Board of Canada employs all of the above courses of film historiography. The study both examines in detail the construction of a single propaganda film and surveys a larger body of almost three hundred NFB productions, regarding the latter from both the sociological and 'mentalities' perspectives. It documents both the ideas forwarded into Canadian society by individual NFB films of an era and the broader patterns of social attitudes and practices advanced into (or reflected from) Canadian society during the corresponding era by series of films. Furthermore, the study charts a novel direction in film historiography. It juxtaposes images from diachronically arranged bodies of archival NFB films to present an 'in-house' history of a cinematic society, in this case through a social history of NFB children. This approach circumvents historiographic restrictions concerning what a film may be credibly said to document-it documents the images it preserves-and it exploits, as never before, the most distinctive attribute of those images: To echo the turn-of-the-century barkers who stood in front of Edison's nickleodeons: "They movel" Movement and a Social History of NFB Children Movement is the essence of film; it distinguishes cinematography from all other forms of recorded imagery. Hence, an historian using film documents as a primary resource should utilize whatever is to be found in motion picture movement that escapes other visual documentation. Social relations, for example. As E.P. Thompson noted in his classic text, The Making of the English Working Class (1968) social relations are best observed within the passage of time: their subtleties by necessity requiring examination in movement. Hence, historically speaking, one may argue that social relations of the past (as well as social practices of the past) may be best observed 15. in films of that past--as only film suspends segments of the passage of time without stopping movement. 1 3 Moreover, the relations and practices of childhood as portrayed by the National Film Board of Canada are not restricted solely to observation at twenty four frames per second. Within the social structures of filmic portrayals-families, their schools and communities--childhood as portrayed by the NFB moves over historical time as well, a feat made possible by the continuous operation of the Film Board cameras since 1939. Film Board children appear within social structures and in a context-a place and a t ime-and engage in social relations with adults and each other. Replace one reel on the film projector with another, and a second generation of NFB children may be juxtaposed with the first, operating within a similar context, engaged in modified relationships with comparable families, schools, and communities. Thus childhood as portrayed by the National Film Board, when screened diachronically, may be observed in continual transformation. The 8,000 films in toto in the National Film Board archives capture slices of time for legions of Canadian children, revealing the nature of their social relations and practices through their movement within films and the history of these through their continual reappearance in the film archives. Conjointly, there is an element of 'social purpose' that distinguishes National Film Board productions from other cinematic genres. From the outset of the documentary film movement in the late 1920s social purpose was joined to film. Documentary films were meant to be (according to Grierson) 'creative treatments of actuality', whose primary purpose was to provide knowledge for 'moods of resolution', rather than entertainment for 'moods of relaxation.' 1 4 Thus in the narrative of a Film Board production-in the soundtrack or in a mise-en-scene--one may find, more often than not, an expression of social needs, social goals, or, on occasion, the introduction of a new, ethical principle of social relations. These elements arise within the films due to human activity at the NFB in response to social issues perceived to exist within Canadian society. Hence, while Film Board portrayals may be 16. 'creative treatments of actuality', the social purposes they serve can be attributed to changing contemporary perceptions of social realities. The dynamics among these social elements-the relationships between the social purposes served by NFB portrayals of children and the changing social practices and relations of childhood in the cinematic society-are of central significance to this study, particularly in regard to the introduction of new ethical principles of social relations into Canadian society through NFB productions and subsequent changes in social relations and practices in NFB families, schools, and communities. The study asks how does the introduction of new principles of social relations affect both the immediate and later social practices and. relations of NFB children, and how are changing social relations of NFB childhood related to later transformations within the cinematic society as a whole? Cinematographic Children in the Century of the Child But why study NFB cinematographic portrayals of children rather than adults who are empowered to transform society, and why study NFB portrayals in particular? To begin to answer these questions, recall that the present century has been dubbed 'the century of the child'. What does this designation mean? According to Theresa Richardson in her The Century of the Child: The Mental Hygiene Movement and Social Policy in the United States and Canada (1989) it refers to the convergence of medical and scientific interests into the conditions of mass childhood in the twentieth century, especially following World War O n e . 1 5 During the 'century of the child', medicine and science inquired by direct observation into the physical and mental development of children-a circumstance labelled 'the childhood gaze' by Foucault among o thers . 1 6 The scientific perspective of this gaze, according to Richardson, was based upon a "positivistic rationalism directed toward controlling social change from positions of authority according to ideals of order and efficiency", while the medical perspective was "a broad based humanism directed toward perfecting the human condition according to equalitarian principles." 1 7 Providing direction for both perspectives 17. were the philanthropic foundations, which funded the 'childhood gaze', with the aim of altering the conditions of mass childhood, and which, coincidentally, harnessed the eyes of motion picture cameras to this purpose. Lawrence K. Frank was a senior officer of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM), a primary funding body for 'the childhood gaze' in North America. He discussed the implications of possible public reforms emerging from this philanthropic enterprise in his chapter "Childhood and Youth" in the monumental Recent Social Trends in the United States: Report of the President's Research Committee (1933): As Ellen Key expressed it: "...'holiness of generation.' This consciousness will make the central work of society the new race, its origin, management, and its education; about these all morals, all laws, all social arrangements will be grouped. This will form the point of view from which all other questions will be judged, all other regulations made."18 For Frank and other agents of philanthropy, the outstanding outcome of 'the childhood gaze' was "the growing belief in the possibility of directing and controlling social life through the care and nurture of chi ldren." 1 9 To a large extent, he reasoned, the social life of tomorrow was already determined by the children of today, since they literally were the future society. "The child is the bridge-biologically and socially-to the future," observed Frank. 2 0 To build a bridge of a suitable design, however, required some engineering of the social practices of those responsible for the care and nurture of future children, specifically their parents and teachers. Among agents of philanthropy, such as Frank, there was a growing feeling about the importance of both the home and school for constructing the 'new race". In the public schools, predicted Frank, there would be "the assumption...of responsibilities formerly considered the duties of the home and church." 2 1 And of the home, Frank wrote in 1933: The attempt to influence the daily life of the home may be regarded as one of the major developments of recent years. It is fairly safe to say that the movement is in its early stages and that its real importance will not be revealed for a decade or two.22 18. Alluding to the means by which 'the daily life of the home' would be influenced, Frank noted the significant role played by the mass media in family life, how "the altered relations of parents and children in the small family are becoming a topic of widespread discussion in magazines and journals," and how "those in control of commercial moving pictures and radio broadcasting are influencing the rearing of ch i ld ren" . 2 3 Moreover, Frank noted the considerable attraction of young people to the cinema: Children are attending moving pictures in large numbers and are apparently receiving a considerable amount of their education thereby, particularly in human relations and more specifically in courtship and marriage.24 Almost certainly, the ideas conveyed by Hollywood of the workings of the world from the 1930s-1950s, including those concerning human relations, had been subject to ideological management by outside interests. Indeed, in his Images of American Life: A History of Ideological Management in Schools. Movies. Radio, and Television (1992) Joel Spring concludes of this golden era of the cinema that "stated simply, the movie industry felt called upon to appease the most vocal and power fu l . " 2 5 Whether this included agents of philanthropic foundations or not is unclear, since little research has been undertaken to determine what ideological management, if any, philanthropy wielded over the Hollywood movie and nascent television industries. 2 6 What is clear, however, is that motion pictures were, from an early moment, being employed to document 'the childhood gaze' and, from the outset of the post-war 'baby boom', that 'documentary films' were being made to educate parents about applicable discoveries being made by medicine and science. It is this dual function of film both in the research and the outcome of 'the childhood gaze' that is of interest for this study-the roles films fulfilled as both document and documentary, observer and agent of medicine and science. In the United States, an illustrative instance of this duality occurred at Yale University's 'Clinic of Child Development', a research facility under Arnold Gesell M.D., a psychologist who trained under G. Stanley Hall. In the 'documentary' Life With Baby (1946) 1 9 . a March of Time film produced for post-war American cinema audiences, Gesell and his staff at the Clinic were filmed as they observed and filmed the behaviour of infants under a "one way vision dome," a device "which conceals from the child those while watching h im" . 2 7 Here for 35 years a group of child specialists have been diligently at work, charting the behavior patterns of children from every kind of environment in order to establish some standard of development to serve as a yardstick by which parents, teachers and doctors may better understand the child's mental growth. After years of cooperative research and experimentation the various progressive stages of mental growth have been identified.28 Following actual film footage shot under the 'one way vision dome,' the March of Time documentary records the clinic's walk-in film vault, showing shelves full of film reels, as well as scenes of men and women dressed in white* lab jackets, doing frame-by-frame analyses of the cinematic portrayals of children: All these and many more stages of child development have been recorded by movie cameras, and the clinic's vaults today contain miles of film. Every foot of this film has been indexed, studied and analyzed by Dr. Gesell and his students.29 Gradually thereafter, the film becomes less a document and more a 'documentary', its intent to influence childrearing practices in American homes reliant upon the blurring of the distinction between the two functions of the film. By intercutting film documents from the Gesell film vault with 'documentary' footage, Life With Baby constructs a strong impression of scientific credibility for the work of the Gesell Clinic and especially for the Clinic's research thesis: that all 'normal' children develop physically and mentally through observable 'natural stages' and socially through observable 'normal patterns'. In Life with Baby. Gesell states the case succinctly before a group of thoughtful students: The mind manifests itself in patterns of behavior, which take on characteristic shapes throughout infancy and childhood. We have identified the behavior patterns which may be used as standards of reference in the clinical diagnosis of child development. When you observe the work of this clinic, you will see how these diagnostic standards are applied.30 Applied by the documentary filmmakers, the normative standards as revealed to the researchers by 'miles of film' are intended to both impress the cinema audience as to the 20. certitude of the Gesell thesis and the wrongheadedness of believing otherwise. To seal the impression of certain knowledge on the part of the clinic staff, there appears a negative character in the film, an 'Aunt Bessy', who fails to understand that "every child develops at its own pace, a fact which amateur experts would do well to understand."31 The portrayal of 'Aunt Bessy' is a caricature. Elderly, dressed in black from head to toe, heavily made-up, with pencil-thin eyebrows, crooked nose and craggy features, Aunt Bessy looks very much like the wicked witch in the American feature film, The Wizard of Oz (1939). Immediately succeeding this negative stereotyping of "amateur experts" who would contradict the findings of the Gesell Clinic, there is a subtle switch in the narrative script from the 'natural stages' of physical and mental development of children to the 'normal patterns' of their social development-information shared at a 'mother's child study group' with parents anxious to "rid themselves of old worries and misconceptions."32 The attentive parents (both in the film and presumably in the cinema audience) are instructed by a 'Miss Janet Learned', an assistant at the Clinic, who, in age, appearance and demeanour, is a striking contrast to 'Aunt Bessy'. Too often parents lacking in knowledge of child development will punish their children for behavior that is entirely normal. During the child's first year of life, most parents are willing to accept his behavior as natural. Nobody punishes a baby for creeping instead of walking. But all too often they do punish him in his second year when he upsets things in the room and doesn't put them back. It is easier for a young child to pull things down than to put them up. After a little more growth he'll enjoy putting things back in their place. Parents punish their four-year-old child for making faces at people. Fortunately, parents who understand the normal stages of growth do not punish the child for behaving like this. They are better able to guide him and enjoy him because they know that many troublesome phases are simply normal and natural stages in the child's development.33 Miss Learned's lecture concerning 'normal and natural stages' of social development in childhood is legitimized by the parallel evidence previously supplied about physical and mental development in children and is capped by the film's concluding narration: 2 1 . The long and patient study of child behavior made by Dr. Gesell and other workers in the field has made it clear that childhood's greatest need from birth throughout the formative years is for a parental attitude of enlightened understanding. For this understanding with love and care will bring to healthy fruition the budding individuality of the citizen of tomorrow's world.34 Many of the documentary techniques employed in Life With Baby were developed by filmmakers working under John Grierson in Britain in the 1930s and at the National Film Board of Canada in the 1940s, with similar goals to those of Frank and other agents of philanthropy: to shape the course of society (through the medium of film) or, in typical Griersonian prelection, to "crystallize sentiments in a muddled world and create a will toward civic part ic ipat ion." 3 5 In National Film Board productions, children were a vital part of these efforts, both in the Grierson years and thereafter, both in Grierson's efforts to shape a 'cooperative democracy' in Canadian society and the efforts of later NFB documentarians to shape the outcomes of 'the century of the child'. For this reason alone, the sense that the NFB used children to promote the visions of specific agencies in Canada (most notably Grierson's and those of the Department of National Health and Welfare) it is worthwhile to study the cinematographic portraits of children thus created. But more. Motion picture cameras were enlisted in the 'childhood gaze' to study childhood as well as to influence it. Film had a dual purpose in 'the century of the child'-as observer as well as agent-two distinct uses for cinematography that were developed during the early years of the century, but only one of which, film as agent, for which the National Film Board productions have ever been employed. While the primary intent of NFB cinematic portrayals of children was the promotion of practices and principles expected by childhood experts to produce desirable social outcomes, a subsequent result has been the collection of hundreds of miles of film now available for a new, historical gaze to investigate the outcomes themselves. To paraphrase historian Geoff Eley: "The practitioners have had their say. The historians should now take the stage." 3 6 2 2 . Methodology The earliest historian of the NFB, Marjory McKay, posited that "the motion picture will always be a mirror of a people's history, even more so in Canada where its documentary character is being preserved." 3 7 Her supposition that 'a people's history' was preserved in film, that it awaited reconstruction through 'a simple juxtaposition of images', has inspired the approach of this research both analytically and in manner of presentation. Juxtaposed synchronically (among social structures at any one period of time) and diachronically (within social structures over time) NFB images do, in fact, reflect a people's history, just as McKay suggested-albeit of a cast of people whose society, past and present, exists in film emulsion solely. To begin the research into NFB society, a pool of 250 films was selected from a historical collection of catalogues housed at the regional offices of the NFB at Vancouver, B . C . 3 8 Films were chosen on the basis of having significant portrayals of Canadian children, which, on the whole, seemed representative of the entire body of children described in the catalogue synopses for each decade in terms of gender, class, regional and cultural backgrounds, acting within a variety of recurring contextual themes: education, civics, recreation, health, early childhood, and adolescence, to name but a few. The reels were screened at the NFB offices, half-decade by half-decade, in blocks of twenty-five films, the first series being 1939-1944. Field notes were taken during the initial screenings, and films were occasionally re-examined or transferred to videotape for detailed analysis. The original pool of selections was expanded as particular issues, themes, eras or contexts warranted further consideration or documentation. Generally, the earliest childhood portrayals, the Grierson era documentaries (1939-1946), served to determine for the larger study the initial forms of the social structures (family, school, and community) in which NFB children appear and the founding characteristics of the portrayals themselves. The films of this era served, as well, to 23 . determine the functional role played by children in Grierson's 'democratic education' of Canadians; i.e., how images of children were used to advance his conception of a post-war 'progressive' democracy in Canada. Later reflections (1947-1989) contrasted with earlier ones served to determine what changes had occurred in the childhood portrayals over the decades; what transitions among the portrayal of families, schools, and communities were accompanying these changes-and why? As a general rule, explanations for transitions in the portrayals of children were sought both internally, within 'NFB society', by examining the social dynamics within the films themselves, and externally by examining contemporaneous activities at the National Film Board of Canada, within Canadian society or of the Canadian state. In any case, because filmmaking (like history) is a human process, historical explanations for transience among the images were sought first and foremost in the activities of human agents, either acting within the films, working at the National Film Board, or acting upon Canadian society or the Canadian state. Accompanying this search for human agency, the portrayals of children were analyzed whenever relevant, in terms of film style, structure, technology, aesthetics or ideology. Changes in social patterns were also contextualized in relation to changes within Canadian society at large and at the National Film Board in particular-the war years, the cold war, events of the late-1960s, feminism, multiculturalism, the restructuring of the NFB, and the advent of video technology in the 1970s, for example-as well as the comings and goings of fashions and fads. Secondary Literature In addition, a substantial body of secondary literature in related fields, especially histories of childhood, education, family and film provided ancillary contexts by which to interpret the transience of Canadian social structures reflected in the NFB mirror over the half-century (1939-1989). In the educative context, for example, this study passes 24 . through the middle and late years of the progressive education movement, the national hue and cry for educational reform, and the successes, failures, and excesses of the neo-progressive era in education. Specific to these eras and issues as presented in the films, there is a significant body of relevant literature authored by Canadian historians: from Anne Wood's Idealism Transformed (1985), which explores the roots of progressive education in Canada, through Neil Sutherland's essay, "The Triumph of Formalism" (1986), which exposes the failure of early progressive reforms, and J. Donald Wilson's "From the Swinging Sixties to the Sobering Seventies," (1977) describing the polarities of reform during the early years of neo-progressivism, to George Tomkins' A Common Countenance (1986) and Robert Stamp's The Schools of Ontario (1982), in which descriptions of neo-progressive practices and pedagogies are to be found. Films on more selective topics, such as Indian education in Canada and private schooling found contextual references in books by Jean Barman among others; just as gender issues in Canada found hermeneutic contexts in histories by Veronica Strong-Boag, inter alia. Nor were the standard bearers of Canadian educational history overlooked as interpretative contexts for NFB portrayals of pupils and teachers: C.E. Phillips's T h e Development of Education in Canada (1957) and J.D. Wilson, Robert Stamp, and Louis-Philippe Audet Canadian Education: A History (1970). In the field of the history of childhood, as already noted, little had been previously undertaken with extant filmed portrayals of children. Yet, the field has much to offer in the way of contextual materials. Since the longitudinal nature of this research allowed the observation of childrearing practices in one generation of portraits and the consequences of those practices in another, both Lloyd de Mause The History of Childhood (1974) and Glenn Davis Childhood and History in America (1976) have provided provocative backgrounds to the study from the psychogenic literature of the history of childhood. In addition, Davis's book provided a useful catalogue of 20th century prescriptive childrearing literature, as did Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English in their For Her Own Good (1978). More generally, 25 . works authored by historians Katherine Arnup, Cynthia Comacchio, Harvey Graff, Philip Greven, Linda Pollock, Steven Schlossman, Neil Semple, and Viviana Zelizer informed this research, while, as a primer of Canadian children in their families, schools and communities, Neil Sutherland's classic Children in English Canadian Society (1976) was essential, as was his latest major work, Growing Up (1997), for its 'waist high' perspectives into Canadian childhood during the 1940s and through the 1950s. Philippe Aries' monumental Centuries of Childhood (1962) with its innovative use of iconography, provided the intellectual inspiration for this project, while articles by Sol Cohen and monographs by Ellen Herman, The Romance of American Psychology (1995), Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (1978), Esteve Morera, Gramsci 's Histor ic ism (1990), Douglas Owram, Born at the Right Time (1996), and Theresa Richardson, The Century of the Child (1989) all bore significantly on the development of the major argument advanced within this dissertation concerning the post-war mental health movement and its impact upon the social lives of the children and adults portrayed in the films. Supplemental to these and other secondary sources, screenings of NFB films were accompanied by an extensive examination of primary materials held at the NFB archives, especially production documents, film catalogues and NFB annual reports. An examination was made of Gallup Polls published in Canada from 1942 to 1989 to explore the relationship between the Gallup results and Canadian society as projected by the National Film Board, and, finally, for the third chapter, "Lessons in Living", a recorded interview was conducted with some of the children who acted in a 1944 film production on Vancouver Island. "NFB Kids": A Progressive Narrative Emerges Just as a single NFB portrayal of children imposes its narrative on a spectator through a juxtaposition of cinematic segments, so too does the juxtaposition of a series of portrayals impose a coherent narrative concerning changing patterns of social life in the cinematic society. Before commencing this narrative, however, some contextual knowledge 26. concerning the pre-history, creation and development of the National Film Board of Canada is necessary, if early depictions of NFB society-its ethical principles, social practices and relations-are to be understood. Consequently, the first section of this dissertation (chapters two and three) presents the foundation and formative years of the Film Board beginning with a study of the British documentary film movement and its founder, John Grierson. The section examines Grierson as an agent of 'progressive' ethical principles, who adamantly worked the original fabric of NFB society into a progressive weave by exercising sweeping control over his filmmakers, film content and style. In this section, a correspondence is demonstrated between the narrative themes of early NFB portrayals and the principles still held by many Canadians to be central to the national psyche: ie., a socially cooperative population, inclined less to individualism and nationalism and tending more toward community achievement and global citizenship. The connec-tion between Grierson's engineering of film portrayals and these beliefs by Canadians is historically credible since the themes of domestic and inter-national cooperation were Making Room for Progressivism consistently presented in 27. more than 700 films that saturated the population before the end of the war in the first moving, sound images of 'Canadians' as a body politic that a significant mass of Canadians had ever observed. A progressive subtext to this discourse of social cooperation emerges during an in-depth examination of a single 'Griersonian' production of the war years, Lessons in Living (1944). Documents related to the production suggest that although the agents who produced, promoted, and even acted in the film appear on the screen to be working towards revitalizing smaller communities by promoting cooperation in educational matters, the evidence supports a dual reading: that an equal aim of the authors of the film was to usurp to the state traditional authority exercised by individual communities over the education of their ch i ldren. 3 9 The resulting vision of children increasingly in the service of the progressive state is a recurring one over the next two sections of the study. Section two (chapters four and five) continues the examination of the development of NFB society begun by the first section through a juxtaposition of film portrayals of Canadian children from 1946-1967, establishing the themes and purposes of the post-war portraits and observing the changes in social practices and social relations pertaining to childhood widely evident by the end of the era. Although drawing broadly upon external contexts for an historical explanation of these changes, an in-house argument develops that the first 'new ethical principle' of significant impact to appear among the portrayals of children after the war was 'mental hygiene' (by then divorced from all eugenic connotations). This was a 'progressive' concept, which in the guise of 'mental health' and 'child guidance' was simultaneously penetrating Canadian familial, educational, and community structures virtually unobstructed via government pamphlets, baby books, magazines, newspapers, and radio-scripts-as well as through the changing language of educational theorists and practit ioners. 28. This section follows the course of a small shift in adult-child power relations that appears in NFB society shortly after the adoption of hygienist child-rearing practices that clearly originate from the Gesell Clinic at Yale University.40 Over the next two decades, the gulf of power between adults and children narrows significantly, promoting and advancing the control of children over the events of their •Any child m.y >«.., social mise-en-scenes. lie steal, — and any child can be made into a so-cially adjusted adult by OV6T the SOCtlOn, understanding guidance" juxtaposed against a broader description of "Your Child Can Go Wrong" - Maclean's Magazine, 1946 Film Board portraits, the antecedents and after-effects of the post-war mental hygiene/mental health movement are examined as they develop within the archival collection. The section ends with the 'new generation' of NFB young people (who are, of course, Canadian young people being filmed by NFB camera crews) on Yorkville Street in Toronto in the film, Flowers on a One Way Street (1967), blocking traffic and flexing their mass, social muscle against traditional authority. As with the first section, there is a paradox to be pondered at the end of the second as well. For rather than 'invigorating the family as a social group' or 'fostering the spirit of liberty' that is said to animate the individual child (as promised by Gesell for example) both family life and individualism appear to suffer in NFB society. Over the decades following the adoption of mental hygiene principles of child-rearing, the rising generation of NFB youth become less and less influenced by the expectations of their individual families and teachers 29. and more and more susceptible to the norms of the group, the gang, the kids', as their cohorts are described in Film Board productions of the late 1950s and early 1960s. 4 1 The final section of the study (chapters six and seven) examines the cinematic mirror following 1967 to observe members of the 'new generation' in adulthood-their families, schools, and communities-and their children. At the same time as the 'baby-boomers', both men and women, begin appearing in the films in mature roles (including roles as NFB filmmakers) a similar bent toward 'democratizing' traditional power relations as was first witnessed in post-war families begins to pervade the cinematic society as a whole. Control over representational voice is yielded to previously voiceless 'cultural communities': First Nations peoples, the poor, and minority groups in particular. Soon afterward, Studio 'D', an autonomous women's studio, becomes established at the Film Board. This section follows the subsequent course of social relations among 'new generation' adults and 'next generation' children as the 'new society' progresses into a 'state of disequilibrium'-a period of transient and contested power relations. 4 2 This post-modern reflection of Canadian society is marked by an unabated drift toward child-centered narratives, by the restructuring of traditional social structures, and, most notably, by waning roles of leadership for boys and men and, conversely, the ascension to leading roles by NFB girls and women. This final section concludes by revisiting the first, which dealt with the social impact of early visual media in Canadian society, to speculate, at last, upon the origins and implications of shifts in power relationships to be found in the mirror of the NFB. It forwards the view that 'progressive' campaigns advanced by the NFB (along with other agencies) into Canadian society during the 1940s and 1950s~particularly those of the mental hygiene movement-had a profound affect upon social relations in the cinematic micro-society through the 1960s to the 1980s. It suggests that those who conceived of 'the century of the child', and those who promoted it, accurately appraised the existing potential to engineer the social conditions of 3 0 . future society by altering mass child-rearing and schooling practices but were mistaken (or were misleading) about the outcomes of the practices they prescribed. It concludes that by weakening, rather than 'invigorating' or even maintaining the influence of families, schools and communities over the 'culture of childhood', progressive campaigns of the 1940s and 1950s amplified the influence of the mass media upon a rapidly expanding 'network of childhood'. As a result, in NFB society, the socialization of children over the years of this study becomes more and more directly the prerogative not of families, nor their schools, nor their communities, but of agents empowered to manufacture their social discourse in cinematic imagery. 4 3 NFB Kids in the 'Mirror of Canada' In 1959, Marjory McKay posited that 'film constitutes...a mirror of a pe r iod . " 4 4 Upon first reflection this appears to be a suspect premise upon which to base a historical study. Indeed, it seems doubtful whether NFB filmmakers could truly 'mirror' Canadian society even if they wished to. And yet, on the other hand, used in its classical sense the mirror metaphor precisely characterizes NFB productions. In her outstanding monograph, The Glass of Form: Mirroring Structures from Chaucer to Skelton (1991), Anna Torti, a scholar of medieval English literature, takes note of the function of the mirror (speculum) as it was used in medieval texts: The mirror has in fact a double function: it is both positive and negative in showing us what we should be and what we are. In the mirror-image relationship, the mirror has the active role as the means by which the ideal is seen in a transient image.45 In its classical sense, then, as described by Torti, the mirror provides neither a true image of a subject solely ('what is') nor merely an ideal one ('what ought to be'), but, rather, the movement of the one toward the other-thus proffering both at once. As it was with the medieval speculum, so too it is with the NFB documentary. The portrayals of children by the NFB are both at once images of 'what is' in Canadian society and ideals of 'what ought to be'. A single film has the active role as 'the means by which the ideal is seen in a transient image', but moreover, by surveying the entire collection of films, the 'what is' may be observed in transience as well. Hence, the archival collection of the National Film Board of Canada does literally constitute "a mirror of a period," just as McKay observed. The narrative that follows is the mirror reflection of the ideals of 'what ought to be' that were introduced into Canadian society through the portrayals of children by the National Film Board of Canada and the subsequent transitions in images of 'what is' within the social structures of the cinematic micro-society: ie., 'NFB society'. The narrative proffers a number of insights into Canadian childhood over five decades, the most significant of which is, perhaps, that just as technological science was developing a mass medium of interest to Canadian children, social science was developing a mass susceptibility to it. Endnotes 1 A brief note is necessary concerning the English/French dichotomy as it relates to the portrayals of children by the National Film Board of Canada. For the purposes of this study, the solution is surprisingly simple. The Quebec wing of the institution has from its inception in 1939 been called the 'ONF': 'L'Office national du film du Canada.' My research uses no material from the ONF, except that which has been 'versioned' into English by the NFB. 2 Exceptions to this include Barbara Halpern Martineau, "Before the Guerillieres: Women's Films at the NFB During World War II," Canadian Film Reader. 1979; Yvonne Mathews-Kiein, "How They Saw Us: Images of Women in National Film Board Films of the 1940s and 1950s," Atlantis: A Women's Studies Journal. 4, 2 (1979), pp. 20-38; and H. Clifford Chadderton Hanging a Legend: the NFB's shameful attempt to discredit Billy Bishop (Ottawa: The War Amputations of Canada, 1986). 3 See my Appendix 1, "List of References" for full citations of all secondary materials referred to in this study. 3 2 . 4 In order to replicate the 'presence' experience of a film spectator, I employ the historical present tense whenever describing the events of a film narrative. 5 For the purposes of this study, I employ Susan Houston's concept of a Twentieth Century 'school-aged childhood', setting the parameters of the term 'child' between infancy and school-leaving age. 6 In the 1940s, there are far more portrayals of boys than of girls. This imbalance is not fully addressed until the mid-1970s. 7 For some instances when 'Canadian sensibilities' were piqued by National Film Board productions see Gary Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board: The Politics of Wartime Propaganda (Toronto: University qf Toronto Press, 1984), pp. 207-15; and Gary Evans, In the National Interest: A Chronicle of the National Film Board of Canada from 1949 to 1 9 8 9 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), pp. 179-189 and pp. 295-98. 8 From 1939 to 1950, the mandate of the NFB read somewhat differently: "to help Canadians in all parts of Canada to understand the ways of living and the problems of Canadians in other parts." 9 The first known reference to the the phrase is in Ellen Key's The Century of the Child (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1909), an argument for the emancipation of women through the rearing of children. I 0 Indeed, among the earliest Lumiere 'movies' of the late 1890s, there are several featuring children. Most notably, the infant child of Louis Lumiere, who appears in an outdoor breakfast scene in the short film Le Repas de bebe (1896), a scene which has been duplicated countless times by later generations of parents with their own 8mm or video equipment. I I To be historically credible, a 'non-fictional' film must meet the criteria set by the Zapruder account of the Kennedy assasination: that is, an unplanned, continuous recording of an event left in its original context. Good accounts of the use of film as a historical resource include V.M. Magidov, "Film Documentation: problems of source analysis and use in historical research," Historical Journal of Film. Radio, and Television. 9, 2 (1989), pp. 151-63; Raymond Fielding, "Newsfilm as a Scholarly Resource," Historical Journal of Film. Radio, and Television. 7, 1 (1987), pp. 47-54; John E. O'Connor, ed., Image as Artifact: The Historical Analysis of Film and Television (Malabar, Florida: Robert E. Krieger Co., 1990); and Paul Smith, ed., The Historian and Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976). 1 2 For example, unlike the British upper and middle classes, more than 80% of working class youth attended the cinema at least once a week during the golden age of motion pictures (1900-1950). Paul Smith, ed., The Historian and Film (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 367. 1 3 A full discussion of the temporal dimensions of historical and social concepts may be found in E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968). 33 . 1 4 John Grierson, cited in Dorothy Livesay, "Radio Talk on the topic of Lessons in Living." 9:30 C.B.R. Western and Prairie Networks, Thursday, November 16, 1944. 1 5 Theresa Richardson, The Century of the Child: The Mental Hygiene Movement and Social Policy in the United States and Canada (New York: SUNY, 1989). 1 6 Ml., p. 3. 1 7 ML 1 8 Lawrence K. Frank, "Childhood and Youth," in Recent Social Trends in the United States: Report of the President's Research Committee on Social Trends. Vol. II (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1933), p. 753. 1 9 Ml-, p. 794. 2 0 Mi-, p. 754, 800. 2 1 Ml-, P- 753. 2 2 Ibid., p. 794. 2 3 Ibid., p. 753. 2 4 Mi., p- 790. As observed by Joel Spring in Images of American Life: A History of Ideological Management in Schools. Movies. Radio, and Television (New York: SUNY, 1992), p. 59, the direct educative potential of film, as revealed in studies undertaken in the 1930s, could only have been perceived as promising: Another of the studies found that children retained information from movies over long periods of time. A group of 2nd and 3rd graders remembered at the end of six weeks 90% of what they remembered from a movie on the day they saw it. 25 Joel Spring, Images of American Life: A History of Ideological Management in Schools. Movies. Radio, and Television (New York: SUNY Press, 1992), p. 96. 2 6 An exception to this is the recent contemplation of the effects of the 1933 Payne Fund Studies publications by Garth Jowett, Ian Jarvie, and Kathryn Fuller in Children and the Movies: Media Influence and the Pavne Fund Controversy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 2 7 Soundtrack from Life With Baby. 18 min., 16mm, sound, B&W film, Time/Life Inc., New York, 1946. 2 8 Mi. 2 9 Ml-3 0 Ml-34 . 3 1 Ibid. 3 2 This subtle transition is an illustration of what film historian Wolfgang Ernst has described as "the very force of [a] film working on the visual senses [to] overturn a viewer's contemplative stance." The rapid and irreversible movement of the film narrative impels the viewer's thought processes forward with equal rapidity, pass the transgressions without pause, the cinematic equivalent of a sleight of hand trick. 3 3 Soundtrack from Life With Babv. 3 4 Ibid. In his Infant and Child in the Culture of Today (1946) a popular childrearing manual that resulted from the Yale Clinic of Child Development studies, Dr. Gesell acknowledged the substantial funding of the clinic by philanthropic foundations: We are fundamentally indebted to the Rockefeller Foundation, which over a period of years has given generous long range support to systematic investigations which underly the present work. The more recent and extremely timely support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York has made the completion of this work possible.47 3 5 John Grierson quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board: The Politics of Wartime Propaganda (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), p. 32. The nascent documentary film movement, itself, had ties to Rockefeller philanthropy. The documentary idea germinated in John Grierson's mind while he held a Laura Spelman Rockefeller memorial (LSRM) fellowship, fifteen years before his career as the government film commissioner for Canada began. 3 6 Geoff Eley, "Reading Gramsci in English: observations on the reception of Antonio Gramsci in the English-speaking world, 1957-82," from the European History Quarterly. 14 (October 1984), cited in Esteve Morera, Gramsci's Historicism. p. 194. 3 7 Marjory McKay, "The Motion Picture: a mirror of time," in the NFB Annual Report. 1958-59 (Ottawa: National Film Board of Canada, 1959), p. 22. 3 8 My thanks to Jan Clemson, educational representative for the National Film Board of Canada, for giving me full access to this resource and many others at the NFB's Vancouver offices. 3 9 This dualism is consistent with Grierson's belief in the possibility of being "totalitarian for the good." John Grierson quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p.14. 35 . 4 0 An inconsistency between NFB society and Canadian society is the absence of empirical evidence of Benjamin Spock's influence upon NFB parents. The Ages and Stages series of advice films produced from the late-1940s through the 1950s were heavily influenced by Gesell and Frances llg's Infant and Child in the Culture of Today (1943), and their guide, The Child from Five to Ten (1946) is literally opened for reference by a 'child rearing expert' in the film He Acts His Age (1949). Similarly, in the film Mother and Her Child (1947), a NFB mother seeks advice from Ernest Couture's The Canadian Mother and Child (1940), but not once within the films surveyed for this study does Spock's Baby and Child Care appear. Various explanations may be generated for the absence, but I am swayed to the opinion that the omission highlights Spock's role in the late-1940s as but one apostle of the 'gospel' of the 'parent education movement', the mental hygienist approach to childrearing funded by the LSRM after 1920, including Gesell's work and the immensely popular Parents' Magazine. It seems oddly ironic in regard to Spock's invisibility in NFB society that in the Cardinal edition of his Baby and Child Care (1946) Spock acknowledges the contributions of many of his contemporaries (Dr. Ilg among them) but omits Gesell. With the omission, Spock inadvertently smudged the intellectual links of his own child rearing 'gospel' to Gesell's Yale Clinic and consequently to Rockefeller philanthropy. See Steven Scholssman, "Philanthropy and the Gospel of Child Development, History of Education Quarterly. 21 (Fall 1981) pp. 2 7 5 - 2 9 9 . 4 1 The circumstances find theoretical unity in at least one critical analysis of Benjamin Spock and Baby and Child Care. See Michael Zuckerman, "Dr. Spock: The Confidence Man," from his Almost Chosen People (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 2 6 0 - 2 8 7 . 4 2 'New Society' (Societe Nouvelle) was the ONF equivalent to the NFB's 'Challenge for Change' programme. 4 3 For a media oriented analysis of a similar phenomenon in North American society see Joshua Meyrowitz, No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). 4 4 McKay, "The Motion Picture: a mirror of time," p. 22. 4 5 Anna Torti, The Glass of Form: mirroring structures from Chaucer to Skelton (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991), pp. 1-2. 36 NFS Kids; Portrayals of Children hv the National Film Board of Canada 1 9 3 9 - 1 989 Chapter 2 Early NFB Society: The Eyes of Democracy Preach to the eye, if you would preach with efficacy. By that organ, through the medium of the imagination the judgement of the bulk of mankind may be led and moulded almost at pleasure.-| - Jeremy Bentham Rationale of Judicial Evidence. 1827 "Why can't we say it and be done with it," remarked John Grierson in an early-1940 radio broadcast, "the National Film Board will be the eyes of Canada. It will, through a national use of cinema, see Canada and see it whole-its people and its purposes." 2 In a nutshell, this is a fairly precise description of early NFB society-a wartime vision of the peoples of Canada seen through the unifying lens of the nation's documentary cameras. But as they listened to Grierson on their radios, how many Canadians could have envisioned that the 'whole' of their country was greater than the sum of its existing geographical, political, and social parts? Certainly, few of them could have imagined that the peoples of Canada were endowed with a national character beyond the attributes historically ascribed to Canadians. 3 Yet nothing less than a Canadian public with a 'progressive' character, a social dynamic to be projected upon the nation's motion picture screens, was Grierson's vision as he spoke over the CBC radio network. Already, his National Film Board was organizing to impress ordinary Canadians with this cinematic sense of their national selves, and, as they listened to their radios, already ordinary men, women, and children like themselves were acting in the roles assigned to them by the National Film Board. 37. Joined together, screenplays and ordinary people, 'what ought to be' and 'what was', the National Film Board and Canadians would fix in film the founding physical, social, and intellectual patterns of NFB society. This chapter explores these founding conditions. It examines the philosophical roots of the society in celluloid through an exploration of the intellectual development of its founder, John Grierson, and it examines the physical and social conditions of early NFB society through the wartime portrayals of Canadian children. It describes how NFB images of the Canadian peoples were used to spread Grierson's progressive philosophy of 'social democracy' among Canadians,and it speculates upon the effectiveness of the cinematographic project. Ultimately, the chapter sets the stage for a detailed examination of the construction of a 'NFB community' and, consequently, to a deeper understanding of the ethical principles of progressivism, John Grierson, the NFB, and Canadian children in the 'eyes of democracy'. Grierson: The Formative Years His ancestors were lighthouse keepers; his mother was a suffragette; his father was headmaster of Cambusbarron School, near Stirling in Scotland, where, as a young boy, John Grierson possibly saw the first motion picture to be shown in any Scottish school . 4 Born in 1898, he was the fourth child of eight, in a family where the members were expected to hold their own in lively sitting-room debates, a regular feature of his family's life, and for which, according to his earliest 38 . biographer, Forsyth Hardy, the perspectives swung between a fervent belief in 19th century liberalism and support for Clydeside socialism, a Glaswegian political movement of the t ime. 5 The early life of John Grierson, as recorded by himself and his supporters, has the Stirling High School graduate declining a bursary scholarship in 1915 to join the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, serving as a telegraph operator aboard naval mine sweepers, and during his inactive hours studying Italian, philosophy, and French literature from books sent to him from Cumbusbarron by his parents. 6 After the war, according to film historian, Nicholas Pronay, Grierson entered Glasgow University and graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in 1923, which he later succeeded in having upgraded to 'Honours';7 According to Hardy: "Kant, Dostoevsky, Bentham, Byron, and Plato were often quoted in his essays", which were "written with a mixture of incisive knowledge and fervent belief."8 After graduation, Grierson worked briefly at Durham College in Scotland, where his principal, according to Pronay, backed him to such an extent in his bid to gain a Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM) Fellowship and undertake post-graduate studies in sociology that the young Scot became one of the earliest recipients of the award. 9 In November 1924, his fare and tuition paid, Grierson arrived at the University of Chicago with a stipend of $1,800 to study immigration and its effects on the social problems of the United States. According to Grierson, he fell immediately into the life of the American city; gangster violence fascinated him, as did contemporary American art and Chicago Jazz . 1 0 His programme of studies led him to be curious about the rapid make-over of European immigrants into Americans. He concluded that it was the 'yellow press', the Hearst press, that was the most significant factor in the transformation. The 'yellow press', Grierson discovered, was the only English press most immigrants would read, due to its simple headline-style prose and profuse use of pictures. In addition, Grierson discovered, the Hearst press wrote 'stories' rather than 'reports' as was the fashion with European newspapers, and that these stories had distinctively American themes. 1 1 39 . Grierson's research into newspapers as a sociological device led to a meeting arranged by his faculty supervisor, the pioneering political scientist, Charles E Merriam, between Grierson and Walter Lippmann in 1925. Lippmann was editor the New York World. and author of two seminal texts, Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925). In but on the mental pictures given to them by others: images for which he coined the term 'stereotypes'. Stereotypes were pictures people had "of themselves, of others, of their needs, purposes, and relationships." 1 2 They were "trustworthy pictures of an outside world," and they were "planted there by another human being whom we recognize as authoritative." 1 3 His meeting with Lippmann bolstered Grierson's initial perception that by manipulating such pictures within a dramatic narrative structure the 'yellow press' was able to forge "the perspective and the background and the dimensions of action" among target groups such as immig ran ts . 1 4 From Lippmann, as well, Grierson found support for his philosophical bent toward 'absolute idealism". According to Ian Aitken in his intellectual history, Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement (1990), "absolute idealism had the greatest influence" on Grierson's early intellectual life, especially as it was espoused by the Scottish philosopher and historian, Thomas Car ly le . 1 5 Carlyle called for the replacement of the governing classes by an elite of 'cultivated persons' who would emphasize the 'highest values' at which society must aim--"values which transcended the class values of free enterprise cul ture". 1 6 This broad range of values was to be propagated through a comprehensive system of popular education, "which would draw the individual into a rational consensus." 1 7 From Carlyle's elite of 'cultivated persons' leading the populace toward a rational consensus, there is but a short leap to Lippmann's conception of an 'independent agency of experts' guiding a cooperative citizenry into achieving a rational public opinion. ., Lippmann expressed the view that individuals acted not on direct knowledge 40 . I argue that representative government...cannot be worked successfully, no matter what the basis of election, unless there is an independent, expert organization for making unseen facts intelligible to those who have to make the decisions. My conclusion is that public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press as is the case today.t 8 Lippmann believed that the mechanics of modern society were beyond the understanding of the average citizen. In his view, it was necessary, therefore, to shape public opinion to ensure the orderly workings of a complex society. Every complicated community, he observed, had sought the assistance of 'special men, of augurs, priests, e lders ' . 1 9 In 1920s society, he believed, there was a need to interpose 'some form of expertness between the private citizen and the vast environment in which he is entangled', a need to 'introduce into the existing machinery agencies that will hold up a mirror week by week, month by m o n t h ' . 2 0 Hindering the organization of this orderly expert-led society, in Lippmann's view, democracy had never developed a proper education for the public; ie., a training in being led. To Lippmann, the contemporary aim of education appeared to be the creation of 'a mass of amateur executives' who did not know how to 'act as a member of the public'. 2 1 Each citizen had merely been given "a hasty incomplete taste of what he might have to know if he meddled in everyth ing." 2 2 The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and the roar of the bewildered herd.23 Among the ideas of Walter Lippmann that ultimately influenced Grierson, none was more significant than the newspaperman's conviction concerning the propaganda potential of manipulated imagery-ie., how "photographs have the kind of authority over imagination today, which the printed word had yesterday...they seem utterly r e a l . " 2 4 "In the whole experience of the race," wrote Lippmann in Public Opinion, "there has been no aid to visualization comparable to the cinema...the motion picture depicts unfolding events, the outcome of which the audience is breathlessly wai t ing." 2 5 According to Forsyth Hardy, Lippman listened with interest as Grierson described the influence of the 'yellow press' in the 4 1 . local politics of Chicago. He then suggested to Grierson that the Hearst press and its popular influence paled in comparison to that of Hollywood's extraordinary mass appeal. In addition, advised Lippmann, Grierson might find something useful for his studies in the box-office receipts of the Hollywood studios-the records of success and failure in "the only genuinely democratic institution that ever appeared on a worldwide scale." 2 6 The Rockefeller fellows were encouraged to travel during their studies, and Grierson was eager to do s o . 2 7 From December 1925 to June 1926, en route to Hollywood to take up Lippmann's advice, he visited Albany, Buffalo, Toronto, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Lawrence, Denver (where he met Judge Ben Lindsay), Salt Lake City, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. 2 6 In Hollywood, producer Walter Wanger (himself a colleague of C.E. Merriam during World War One) was so impressed with the young Scotsman that he opened up the box-office files at Famous Players-Lasky and offered Grierson a retainer to analyze their productions 2 9 Based upon his analysis of the box-office receipts of 'westerns', Grierson contributed seven brief articles to Motion Picture News between 20 November and 18 December 1926 . 3 0 Perhaps of most worth from these to Wanger and Lasky were his findings that pictures 'could never be too big' for the public's taste and that movies which encouraged people paid off best at the box office: "The single doctrine of the average showman, that it pays him to make people 'feel good'...pays him still better to make them 'feel great' ." 3 1 For the articles, Grierson was touted in the Hollywood trade-press as the "celebrated English showman" who instructed production managers on "how to haul the coin to the bank." 3 2 Of greater value to Grierson himself, however, from the production of the series of articles, was the opportunity they afforded him to theorize about the sociology of cinema, in particular Hollywood cinema and its relationship to American society. Grierson theorised that the cinema had its influence on the same "ideological centres to which advertisement endeavours to make its appeal." 3 3 Because of this persuasive appeal, 4 2 . and because it was truly a 'mass medium' ("the one solitary institution on which the masses really depend for imaginative release and daily example") Grierson reasoned that the cinema's "creative possibilities as a guiding force among the needs, desires, and ambitions of emergent democracy (were) obviously enormous. " 3 4 Indeed, noted Grierson, the cinema had "a practical monopoly over the dramatic strata of the common mind in which preferences, sympathies, affections and loyalties, if not actually created are at least crystallized and co loured. " 3 5 In choosing the American Western as his research sample, Grierson could not fail but observe the importance of Hollywood stars as models for the American public. He noted how the star system was 'apposite to individualistic societies like America', how movie stars modeled an ideal of 'individualistic socialization within a mass cul ture ' . 3 6 Furthermore, he noted how consistently the 'western' genre favoured certain ideals and narratives, and how dependable the resulting patterns of characterization and attitude were within the genre, with the result that every 'western' built upon and supported the ideas of all the others. As a result, he found the effect of the Hollywood Western upon cinema audiences to be practically indelible: "the mere horseplay of the woolly west passes into tales of the pioneers..." 3 7 Grierson came away from Hollywood with a fresh appreciation of film and an insider's knowledge of filmmaking. Back in New York, in the fall of 1926, his graduate work abandoned, thoroughly immersed in the cinema scene, Grierson wrote film reviews, arranged screenings of foreign films (including the New York premiere of Battleship Potemkin (1925)) and formulated his ideas about film as an "easily persuasive medium." 3 8 It was during this period that Grierson, in reviewing the Robert Flaherty film, Moana. (1926), coined the term 'documentary. 3 9 Equally inspiring to Grierson had been an earlier film of Flaherty's, Nanook of the North (1922). The sponsors of Nanook had been Revillon Freres, a French furrier, whose public relations had benefitted from the portrayal of the trade's benevolence to the 43 . 'Eskimos' . 4 0 Films that had a public relations value, Grierson realized, had a capital value as well, especially if a filmmaker could demonstrate how films were as powerful a tool for moulding pubic opinion as he knew them to be. He was aware that an Empire Marketing Board had been established in Great Britain to promote trade among members of the Empire, and that the Board had no film division. His fellowship ended, Grierson sailed from New York to London in January 1927. Foundation of the British Documentary Film Movement Principally there is this thought: that a single say-so can be repeated a thousand times a night to a million eyes....That seven-leagued fact opens a new perspective, a new hope, to public persuasion.41 Grierson's pitch to Stephen Tallents, the Secretary of the Empire Marketing Board, was forthright. Arguing from what he had learned tn his research into film's great mass appeal, he persuaded Tallents that Great Britain's new Marketing Board should reconsider the priorities of its media use. Tallents, like many before and after, found Grierson to be "an oxyacetylene firebrand with the showmanship of Barnum and Bailey and the sincerity of Moody and Sankey." 4 2 To assist Grierson past a doubting Treasury, Tallents proposed a film on the Scottish herring fleets, since the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had studied the history of the herring fisheries and had written a book, The Herring: Its Effect on the History of Britain. This humble proposal led to the only film personally directed by John Grierson, Drifters (1929), which electrified both critics and audiences with its Potemkin-like editing and its dignified portrayal of working-class Britons, whose roles in the British cinema to date had been as comic buffoons or background servants. 4 3 More than sell herring across the empire, the film, Drifters, sold the concept of dignity of labour, both to an appreciative working class audience who had been given an honourable place on the screen and, according to Erik Barnouw in his Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film (1983), to Grierson's delighted government sponsors who saw clearly how the documentary film could nurture a more amenable labour force. As Grierson later noted sardonically: 44. When it came to making industry not ugly for people, but a matter of beauty, so that people would accept their industrial selves, so that they would not revolt against their industrial selves, as they did in the late 19th century, who initiated the finding of beauty in industry? The British government--as a matter of policy.44 All he had sown in his first thirty years of life seemed to come to fruition with this one film, but for Grierson it was merely the first apple in a prospective orchard. Ignoring calls to direct another film, he took advantage of the fresh goodwill of the Treasury to employ a small school of documentary filmmakers, a cadre of young men and women who were, for the most part, upper-middle class, unconventional and well-educated. 4 5 The cadre was joined at various times by veteran filmmakers, such as Robert Flaherty and Brazilian-born Alberto Cavalcanti, and by supporters from the arts, the poet W.H. Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten among them. Grierson was, according to Hardy, a tyrant over his filmmakers, berating them ruthlessly, overworking and underpaying both them and himself. When ill, he would screen their day's 'rushes' in his bedroom, using a hand-cranked projector. 4 6 If one accepts James Beveridge's (1978) and Hardy's accounts (1979) Grierson subscribed to the attitude voiced by Thomas Edison when asked about his rules of procedure: "Rules! Hell! There ain't no rules 'round herel We're tryin' to accomplish somethin' ." 4 7 But Grierson, according to Hardy, could not accompl ish the full propaganda potential of documentary film while he remained bridled by the British Government. Despite innovations and successes, his film unit Scene f r o m D r i f t e r s 45 . never gained the security of a permanent, British government home. The Empire Marketing Board collapsed in 1933, and most of his filmmakers went to work for the General Post Office (GPO) under a mandate that greatly limited the scope of the films produced. Grierson sought corporate sponsorship for other film projects and secured, in 1934, "the first and greatest of the sponsors," Shell Oil International based in London. 4 8 Under Grierson's instruction, Shell Oil rapidly learned the usefulness of public relations films for shaping public opinion, while Grierson as readily learned that multiple benefits could be had from such films: public consent for the activities of industry could be exchanged for social benefits to the public they exploi ted. 4 9 Neither did Grierson fail to realize benefits for his filmmakers. While more radical film movements in Britain at the time, units such as 'People's Newsreels,' struggled to complete their low-budget, makeshift productions, Grierson's documentarians lined up sponsored film work for Shell, BP, Imperial Chemical, British Commercial Gas, Imperial Airways, and London Transport . 5 0 Grierson's sharpest critic of the time, Arthur Calder-Marshall, noted the uncomfortable relationship between the sponsors and the films: When a film is financed by interests other than that of the entertainment industry, the financiers are out to get results, either in sales or in states of mind. Mr. Grierson may like to talk about social education, surpliced in self-importance and social benignity. Other people may like hearing him. But even if it sounds like a sermon, a sales talk is a sales talk.51 Formation of the National Film Board of Canada Although the exact circumstances that brought Grierson to Canada in the spring of 1938 remain somewhat a mystery, what is evidently true is that Ross McLean, staff-secretary to the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, called upon Lester Pearson, then first secretary of the High Commission in Britain to suggest that, as Grierson's work was more advanced than anything being produced by the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau, perhaps Grierson could be invited to Canada to show the Canadians what he was d o i n g . 5 2 Subsequently, Vincent Massey, the high commissioner, wrote to the Prime Minister 46. to make the recommendation. 5 3 In Ottawa, Ross McLean moved quietly behind the scenes to bring Grierson to Canada, working between the Prime Minister, Pearson, and the minister of trade and commerce, W.D. Euler-extolling the benefits of an improved film bureau to meet the demands of British audiences. 5 4 Ultimately, Euler authorized Massey to arrange with Grierson to undertake a survey of Canadian film policy 5 5 Upon the formation of the National Film Board in 1939, McLean became its first Assistant Film Commissioner. 5 6 When John Grierson met Mackenzie King in Ottawa in the summer of 1938, the two men quickly realized they had much in common. Aside from both being of Scottish ancestry, both had attended the University of Chicago, both had worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, both had studied immigration and labour problems, and both had done research into public opinion and the necessity of consent within a democracy. 5 7 In addition, the two shared a general philosophy on social security and human welfare. King was favourably impressed with Grierson's August 1938 report on Canadian film policy, and brought him back in November 1938 to draft the legislation that would create the National Film Board of Canada. When O.D. Skelton, under-secretary of state for external affairs, suggested Grierson to Mackenzie King as "a good man to get for a year or so" (to head the NFB), Grierson was offered and ultimately accepted the position as Government Film Commissioner. 5 8 It would be fair to say that Grierson launched himself into the construction of the National Film Board with vigour and, at the same time and with equal vigour, attempted to launch himself out of it. According to British film historian Nicholas Pronay, Grierson longed to be in Britain to play a major part in the war effort: He wanted to be in London. He wanted to be in the centre of the propaganda war, not at its farthest periphery. He signalled his availability to London by stipulating that his appointment (at the Film Board) was to be six months in the first instance and kept on signalling it—but to no avail. No invitation ever came to Grierson from London.59 Pronay is correct in his assertion that Grierson wished to resign from the NFB early on in his 47. tenure of the Film Commissionership, but his hypothesis that Grierson's sole ambition was to be in London directly involved in war propaganda is somewhat at odds with a letter written by Grierson to the secretary of the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation during June 1940, asking for funding for a year in which to theorise and write about documentary film: I have, as I think you appreciate, been concerned with a theory of education and with the problem of so galvanizing the imagination of democratic citizenship that it would be inspired to efficiency and effectiveness....But pursuing mere war propaganda as I now do, I feel bricked in from saying or doing as much as I might. You will appreciate how limited mere war propaganda can be....It is the idea and its influence that I want further to mature. You can greatly help me to do it.6 0 But no financial help came from the Guggenheim Foundation; Grierson received the bad news in a telegram at the end of July. Nor was any forthcoming from the Carnegie Foundation to which a similar request was relayed, nor from the Rockefeller Foundation. Nor, as Pronay notes, was any lifeline offered by the British Government for Grierson to engage in 'mere war propaganda' from a London base. Grierson was 'bricked in' at the National Film Board of Canada for the duration of the war. Denied the oppor-tunity to theorise and write about documentary film, Grierson instead began to engineer a massive application of his theory in Canada-the creation and consolidation of a huge propaganda machine meant to 'galvanize the imagination' of Canadians toward efficiency and effectiveness. Capable of both generating and 48. measuring public opinion, the propaganda empire he created, at its height, had an absolute monopoly over the production of federal government motion pictures, executive control over the commissioning of public opinion polls, and (by the war's end) 787 highly motivated and highly disciplined personnel, all amassed, organized and overseen by Grierson himself. The organization of NFB personnel was hierarchical in design. John Cherry and Evelyn Spice The key members of his GPO cadre-Stuart Legg, Stanley Hawes, J.D. Davidson, John Cherry, and Evelyn Spice-migrated from Britain to form the core of the organization and were accountable directly to Grierson. Each of this nucleus group in turn was responsible for training a group of Canadian filmmakers hired by Grierson. When this first generation of Canadian filmmakers had sufficiently mastered the Griersonian philosophy and techniques of documentary filmmaking, then they, too, would be given a group of apprentices to train, remaining all the while accountable to their own teachers who were accountable to Grierson. In this manner, John Grierson maintained disciplinary control over the entire filmmaking operation. Grierson was primarily interested in young Canadian apprentices who had absolutely no experience in film. This selection of neophytes gave those who had to teach them a filmmaking 'tabula rasa' on which they could imprint the Griersonian sty le. 6 1 He criss-crossed Canada in search of potential talent. Recent graduates from the social sciences were 49. often selected, as were those with backgrounds in literature or philosophy. But Grierson frequently hired as much from whim as from any apparent wisdom on his part. An anecdote from McKay is illustrative of the point: One day...he returned...from a recruiting foray out West. "Watch out," he warned, "the nuts are all coming." He had been out interviewing: poets, designers, hot-eyed unionists, unfrocked school teachers, maverick journalists. Kids. Non-conformists. Nuts, in a word.62 Grierson hired a significant (for the time) number of women to vital, central roles at the Film Board. 6 3 Among the producers and directors he hired were Margaret Adamson, Gudrun Bjerring, Laura Boulton, Evelyn Cherry, Jane Marsh, and Edith Spencer. A Vancouver economist, Marjory McKay, became a senior administrator.64 Marsh was actively involved in the production of war films at a decision-making level, but later resigned from the NFB over a production dispute with Grierson. "Women were so grateful to be working in interesting jobs," she later recalled, "that they didn't realize they were slaves." 6 5 In the sober atmosphere of wartime Ottawa, the youth, vitality, and eagerness of Film Board employees garnered them well-deserved reputations as bohemians, as did their untidy hair, wild fashions, and uninhibited conversations.66 However, it was not unusual for staff members to work between twelve and fourteen hours a day, and they were encouraged to do so by Grierson, who was openly contemptuous of the structured routines of the civil service: One notices that wherever the weight of influence has lain with the Civil Servants, the spark has gone out and the use of the creative media has not been remarkable...the issue is the same-youth and activism against the bureaucrats and the mediocrity and complacency and death of the spirit they represent.67 In order to achieve a high degree of productivity during this period of 'on-the-job' training, Grierson employed a number of his filmmakers as 'pirates'. Pirates were proficient at locating 'stock-shots' in the Pathe and Fox-Movietone libraries at New York, which they would later combine with original footage and reassemble in Ottawa as NFB compilations.68 As one observer noted about the Canadian apprentices, "They were all wildly engaged in 50. making films, but none of them knew which end of the camera took the picture." 6 9 Not only did the compilation method allow the Film Board to turn out forty films in the first year of operation (as opposed to the one and one-half films completed by the old Government Motion Picture Bureau in the year previous) but they afforded a greater degree of control over the persuasive message. Coupled with a 'Voice of God' soundtrack, these films could be more precisely designed, their propagandist intent more sharply control led. 7 0 No less sharply was Grierson controlling the training of his neophyte filmmakers, a situation best illustrated by an anecdote related by Sydney Newman, a young filmmaker at the NFB in the early 1940s. 7 1 When he was twenty-two, and a novice at the Film Board, Newman was finishing a three minute film for the Department of Manpower, the purpose of which was to encourage Canadian women to take jobs in industry, to work in the factories and on the assembly lines while Canadian men were overseas in the services. The young filmmaker had just finished adding a soundtrack to the film, a commentary which, according to Newman, said, "Women, you owe it to your men on the front to work in the war plants; get out of your homes and do this and do that...," when Grierson came down to the theatre for one of his occasional screenings: (The film) was only three minutes long, but before one minute was up he had leaped to his feet, run up to the front of the darkened theatre, pointed at the screen, and said: "Who are you to tell the Canadians what to do? Are you a fascist or something?" He began to berate me thoroughly, so for the whole course of this magnificent three minute film with me pouring my heart out, he was berating me. Then the lights came on, and he was white-faced, livid with anger. I said, "I don't understand," and he said, "How dare you! You must never leJi people what to do. You must say, 'Intelligent Canadians...intelligent Canadian women aia today leaving their homes, going into the factories, and doing this and doing that.' Don't tell them what they ought to do. Tell them what they SSS. doing. Cite examples. Give them a reason why they are doing it on their own impulse, and then they will understand it."72 Grierson's intentional smudging of 'what is' and 'what ought to be' in these early NFB productions brings to mind Anna Torti's speculum analogy in The Glass of Form (1991). Notable as well from the Newman anecdote, it was principally the 'mirror1 images of adults at 5 1 . war that dominated the frames of NFB films produced during the formative years of the institution from 1939 to 1942. NFB Children: The Earliest Years Largely due to the war effort, few films among the earliest NFB releases contain significant portrayals of Canadian children-and only one, 100.000 Cadets (1942), could be strictly designated a 'NFB documentary' utilizing Canadian children solely. Sponsored by the Canadian Army, the intent of 100.000 Cadets was to promote enrollment in the army cadet programs at the nation's high schools. During the film, patriotic boys roll up their sleeves to learn airplane identification, rifle drill and war games. One boy's mother is shown as she 'proudly sews stripes to his uniform'. At camp on the weekend, hundreds of Canadian boys are filmed drilling 'under the eye of a lieutenant just back from action.' The attractions of being a cadet are made obvious. One boy carries a pipe in his mouth as he practices the skill of bayoneting with a rifle. Others swim, parade in smart-looking uniforms, get paid, or date girls. As the film ends, the faces of cadets are superimposed over a wind blown Union Jack, and the narrator remarks "Next time you write your brother, you can tell him something he'll be proud o f . " 7 3 Other NFB archival films containing significant portrayals of children and released during the earliest years of the Film Board included Hot Ice (1940), an ode to ice hockey written and narrated by Morley Callahan. ("Hockey players grow anywhere the ice comes early.") Hot Ice , however, was in truth produced by Frank Badgley and his 'Government Motion Picture Bureau', an organization that would be swallowed whole by Grierson and the NFB in June 1941. Likewise, Iceland on the Prairies (1941), which includes a portrayal of the children of Gimli, Manitoba, was produced for the NFB by an independent filmmaker, F.R. (Budge) Crawley, while another 'Griersonian' documentary with children from the era, The Children from Overseas (1940), used Canadian children merely as background characters to document the lives of British evacuee children placed in Canadian homes for the duration of 5 2 . the war. This neglect of Canadian children as subjects for early NFB productions reflects not only the emphasis of the nascent Film Board to produce films directly related to the war effort but, more materially, the lack of available 'stock shots' (film-library footage) of Canadian children before 1943. By 1943, however, this situation was radically altered as the nation began to prepare for post-war social reconstruction and as Grierson began to act upon his reluctance to be 'bricked in' to a job of producing 'mere war propaganda'-a sentiment reiterated in a letter he wrote to his mentor, Sir Stephen Tallents in London, in February 1943 : I hope it isn't spotted too early, or wrongly, but I confess I can't get very excited about the war effort...the surface values-the guns and the campaigns and the braveries and the assembly lines and the sacrifices-are, I think, taken by themselves, the greatest bore on earth.74 As early as the spring of 1942, in writing the text for a prospective book to be titled Eyes of Democracy. Grierson was articulating the role he saw for himself and the NFB: "...to take a country like Canada as an example of what the medium [of film] can do for a nat ion . " 7 5 Or, as he confided to his friend, Basil Wright in London: "Perhaps I secretly wish I could put the damned theory into practice on a larger scale." 7 6 This was the essence of Grierson's 'educational revolution': a cinematic state of mind to discipline the public in the patterns of its imagination. Grierson believed that a powerful national experience could be kindled through the medium of f i lm-that film was "an instrument of great importance in establishing patterns of a national imagination." 7 7 Given a carte blanche by the prime minister to develop the Film Board in a laisser-faire atmosphere, Grierson worked to establish, in his own words, "in relatively short order more of a Ministry of Education than anything else," in which, "the new citizenship of the co-operative state is even now, in spite of the confusion, asking to be articulated." 7 8 The educational result would be the burgeoning families, schools, and communities of early 'NFB society'. 53. Children in NFB Society: 1943-1946 With his filmmaking monopoly in hand, Grierson had for all intents and purposes engineered a Canadian ministry of education with which to attempt to "crystallize sentiments in a muddled world and create a will toward civic part ic ipat ion." 7 9 Films concerning agriculture, conservation, health, labour, nutrition, the post office, taxation, recreation, rural problems, tourism, native and ethnic affairs now became the instruments with which Grierson hoped to construct celluloid patterns of ideals and attitudes that would enable a unified Canadian identity of 'efficiency and effectiveness' to pass (as had Hollywood westerns for Americans) 'into tales of the pioneers'. Canadian children were to be a part of this campaign, as were Canadian men and women. But, no 'special' role existed in Grierson's production plans for children-except in relation to education, for which the Scotsman had a special affection, as revealed in a letter written to his brother-in-law, Duncan McLaren, in 1943 : By the time I'm through it's pretty certain I'll have done something about education that will stick, and that's the main thing. There's a big chance, too, to do something on the social and reconstruction side, out of the information services associated with industrial morale, consumer education and agricultural production. I have gone down all three holes like a triple of terriers, and the dirt will be coming up in a flurry any time now.so Lessons in Living (1944) is illustrative of how films of the era with public school contexts articulated 'the new citizenship of the co-operative state'. In this 'texture-of-life' documentary (which purports to recreate the actual events of a Vancouver Island community) Robert, a boy of thirteen, coping with his lack of interest in his formalist, rural school, carves his initials in a desk that also bears his father's monogram. Caught in the act by the school inspector, the boy and his classmates receive a benevolent lecture from the inspector suggesting that they should improve their school and make it a more exciting place to live and work-not by acting alone, as with Robert's act of vandalism, but, rather, by working 54. together as a community. In progressive committees, the children plan their modern school. With the teacher's approval they toss out their desks and bring in tables. They paint the room, bring in plants, a radio, and a library of books. They repair and paint the dilapidated fence around their school yard, and install painted exterior window boxes. Robert is in charge of carpentry. On the opening night of their new school, a group of parents are so impressed by what the children have accomplished by 'pulling together1 they team up to convert a local barn into a community hall. From the school it spread out into the homes, because once started, community energy is dynamic. Constantly ahead is a continuing line of objectives, each only a stepping stone to all the rest. This much can be done by co-operation within one community. Soon we can look outward to even greater achievements, through co-operation between groups of communities.81 Specifically, the intent of individual early NFB productions such as Lessons in Living was the altering of particular conditions; eg., the conditions of public schooling in rural areas of Canada. But a larger goal in presenting to Canadian audiences a body of 'texture of life' situations resolved through cooperation was the attempt to 'crystallize' an attitude of Pu l l i ng T o g e t h e r 55. cooperation among them; ie., to convince Canadians that an attribute of their national character was to accomplish goals through cooperation that would elude them as individuals. In the film Before They are Six (1943) for example, a young mother, Mrs. Roberts, must work outside her home because "there are more jobs than manpower to perform them. " 8 2 In dealing independently with her need to find childcare, she makes arrangements with the landlady to untie her young son from the fencepost in front of her urban flat and take him inside at mealtimes. Scenes of hooliganism and sobbing children betray the folly of this solution. Mrs. Roberts soon learns from the conversations of her workmates of another solution. If they can get twenty mothers together and pool their resources they can begin a nursery school, a healthy environment where "constructive, cooperative play is e n c o u r a g e d . " 8 3 Individualist mothers who opt out of the scheme are portrayed in an unfriendly light, whereas Mrs. Roberts' decision to join in a daycare is rewarded when, at the end of the film, her little Roy picks up his coat from the floor (a rule learned at the cooperative nursery) and hangs it on a doorhandle. Of American films, Grierson wrote in the 1930s: "I doubt if individual destiny is quite so important and public destiny quite so unimportant as Hollywood would make them a p p e a r . " 8 4 That the destiny of individuals in rural Canada was dependent upon public cooperation was demonstrated in films such as Farm Electrification (1946) which illustrated how it was possible in a rural area to arrange for a power line to be brought in by cooperative action to serve each farmer. The awe of farm children as they gather around to watch their mother plug in an electric kettle given to her many years ago as a wedding gift screens like parody today. But such films often had immediate public effects: In one community, immediately after the film was shown, the audience organized a committee to take action as the film had demonstrated. The following fall the projectionist, who had previously used a gas generator, was gratified to discover that the community hall, as well as many of the surrounding farms, was now attached to a new power line.85 In New Scotland (1944) the Gaelic residents of Acadia work and sing together as they 'shrimp the homespun.' In Better Education-Better Canada (1945) Ontario high school students not only find "the best vocation for themselves" inside their school, but also "the importance of teamwork and cooperation." For the native People of the Potlatch (1944) teamwork counts as well, as does the love of the Union Jack, the song 'London Bridge', and sports day, which "today the Indian looks forward to, just as in the old days every Indian looked forward to the potlatch." Rural Health (1946) advocates support for the Manitoba Health Plan ("The only question is how soon can we get it?") and shows how a group of women can petition to overturn any opposition made to cooperative health care by recalcitrant men. In Early Start (1945) a farm boy learns that one important reason for being in the Junior Farm Club is to be with the group that is in "step with the government," while in Vitamin B1 (1943), the message for young swimmers is that good aquatic form comes from the muscles of the body working together in coordination with the mind. Even in a film about a school music competition, A City Sings (1945), the audience is reminded that the success A Ci ty S ings (1945) of a choir comes from its ability to sing together. One film celebrated accomplishments already achieved by 'co-operation between groups of communities'. Small Fry (1946), a 'prestige' film meant for distribution in 57 . Canadian theatres, honours the establishment of Family Allowances in August 1944. A 'soundtrack mother' reads from her letter of gratitude, with accompanying visuals, explaining how her crippled son now receives medical attention thanks to the $6.00 cheque she receives from the federal government each month. And a 'soundtrack farmer' reads from his letter explaining how he was putting aside the Family Allowance each month for his children's education. A warning was tacked onto this film, in the form of a compilation of 'children of poverty' visuals, reminding the audience that "the difference between us and those not so fortunate as us is our social programmes....The future of the world depends on the kind of people we make our children--for the powers of life and death will be in their hands." 8 6 Distinctiveness within Early NFB Society Social cooperation is overwhelmingly the dominant theme in early representations of Canadian children by the National Film Board, but distinctiveness among social groups may also be discerned within wartime NFB society, as well as 'otherness' through cinematic comparisons with 'other' not-so-lucky children, particularly in war ravaged parts of the world. The latter appeared most often in conjunction with Grierson's crusade to persuade Canadians toward a global point of view, a crusade for which the 'compilation' film was especially effective. In the compilation film, a technique which Stuart Legg of the British cadre perfected, a complex interplay was crafted between narration, visuals, and music to impart meaning through the spectator's subconscious as well as conscious. 8 7 One of the first documentary films of the National Film Board, a compilation as rough as its title, Youth is Tomorrow (1939) contains a narrative that encourages young people to think globally, rather than locally, in order to prepare for the post-depression wor ld . 8 8 At the other end of the era, one of the finest compilation films of its type, Tomorrow's Citizens (1947) remains a powerful evocation of the need to teach 'world citizenship' to children. 58 . In Tomorrow's Citizens, the stentorian Voice of doom' of Lome Greene narrates over a Lucio Agostini musical score, which "started with a crescendo and went on up from there to the end of the f i l m . " 8 9 Over the ten minutes of the film, a huge collection of mesmerizing 'stock-shots' are rapidly and rhythmically edited in a montage the equal of any work of Eisenstein-politicians, riots, battles, children, students, classrooms, chemistry, atomic blasts (including the famous, Bikini Atoll footage, which appears to explode out of a hand-held florence flask) more children, Henry Ford, and the Grand Coulee Dam. "What does the atomic age hold for our children?" asks the voice of doom. "The future threatens catastrophe...New and terrible responsibilities lay on education,..World citizenship is so vital to teach to our children...to equip the rising generation, born with science in its blood, to handle a scientific world;.." (Nuclear explosions followed by a single, shivering Japanese child) "...The power of life or death is in human hands....The warmth of common citizenship must be taught along with science....No nation now lives to itself a lone." 9 0 "The internationalization of men's minds," was a crusade Grierson took to Canadian rural and urban audiences and to American audiences as the voice of Canada. 9 1 A dominant theme of the Canada Carries On series for theatrical distribution in Canada, the international perspective was equally in the forefront of the American distribution series, The World in Action. Moreover, the 35 millimetre prints used in the series for theatre projectors were often reprinted on 16 millimetre film, so they could be taken on rural circuits, even to locations where projectors needed to be powered by gasoline generators. In films such as Suffer Little Children J1945) and Out of the Ruins (1946) domestic and foreign audiences alike were bombarded with heartrending and shocking visuals of sick and starving Europeans with terror in their eyes: women fighting for bread, or children clawing through garbage piles of worthless paper money in their search for food. These bleak segments of the films were succeeded by two divergent paths. Along one path are the sequences and symbols of hope--Europeans regaining their dignity, replacing their old shoes with new; along the other path, 59 . sequences of foreboding-Europeans brooding, bitter, poverty-stricken still. "From the child we helped...we can expect future friendship," the narrator assures us, (compilation of angry eyes) but from those left wanting...let us hope they meet us as fr iends." 9 2 Grierson's efforts to shape the Canadian public consciousness to look outward to the global community were balanced by inward looking nationalism only in the province of Quebec. There the films of L'Office national du film (ONF) examined intimate details of Quebec life for an almost exclusively Quebec audience. 9 3 An extensive series of ten minute films, Les Reportages, of which there where more than one hundred by 1945, portrayed the land and the people of Quebec, the cosmopolitan and the rural, with a film style indisputably distinct from any English-language counterpart. Les Reportages #102 "Initiation a Part" (1945) for example, looks at the children who attend a Montreal school of art. The Francophone children, twelve to fourteen-year-olds, are portrayed as affluent, confident, and sophisticated, both talented in and serious about their work. The jazz soundtrack on the film is unlike any to be found in English production. Away from the city, Cont6 de mon village (1946) provided intimate and sympathetic insights into the life of a rural Quebec school teacher, including her long hours of lesson preparation, her disputes with parents, and public examination at year's end. Still more inward looking is Alexis Tremblay's film, Spring on a Qu6bec Farm (1946). Versioned into English after Quebec distribution, the film portrays the details of the filmmaker's family life on their farm in the Saint Lawrence valley: the Tremblay children cutting willow whistles on the way to the stream, the family making soap in vats, having the spring seeds blessed at mass, ploughing the earth by horse, and sowing the seed by the many hands of the Tremblay family. The independent development and focus of the Quebec filmmakers was due, in part, to Grierson's unilingual limitations. From necessity, he employed Quebec-language advisors and Quebec lieutenants, setting in place, from the outset, the structure for a separate Quebec 60. unit of product ion. 9 4 In addition, Paul Theriault (1978) an early ONF filmmaker, suggests that Scottish nationalism played a part in creating Grierson's sympathy toward the French minority, who, like the Scots, safeguarded their identity and pride against desperate odds. Furthermore, suggests Theriault, Grierson had an affection for "the maverick that French Canada produces in every generation in large numbers-the strong individualist...who isn't chained to the collective process."95 Distinct as well are the National Film Board's portrayals of the two indigenous peoples of Canada: the Indian and the Inuit. People of the Potlatch (1944) and Eskimo S u m m e r (1943) were both directed, in colour, by Laura Bol ton. 9 6 In People of the Potlatch. Indian resistance to assimilation appears to linger in the older generation. The elders dress and dance traditionally, while the younger generation wear T-shirts with Union Jack emblems, Lindbergh flying caps, play baseball, and march in brass bands while draped in red, white and blue bunting. As an old chief dances, a narrator intones: "Once he danced as a tribute to his Gods.... Now he dances only to recall the old days." However, a group of Indian children intently watching the old chief from the background of the mise-en-scene, unintentionally belie the narrator's comments-the children appear to be studying the dance. In contrast to the perception of subtle resistance to assimilation by Indians, the Inuit of Eskimo Summer, old and young, are portrayed as eagerly welcoming the culture of Canada, literally meeting it at the boat to help unload the trappings of civilization: tea, tobacco, guns, and building supplies. "The gentle Eskimo is an example of. perfect adaption," states the unmistakeable voice of Lome Greene. On board the ship, an Inuit male goes to work with wrenches in the engine room. "Eskimos make good mechanics," remarks Greene, "and learn about engines quickly." The subtle difference between these two portrayals, the forced impression of Indian allegiance versus the eager cooperation of the Inuit, may have been as much shaped by Grierson's opinion of the two groups as by any reality found by the director, 6 1 . Bolton, in 1944, Grierson assisted Basil Wright to compose an article for a London periodical, the Spectator, which included these thoughts on Canada's indigenous peoples: In considering the future populations of the North-West, the Eskimo race would appear to be of considerable importance. The Eskimos, unlike the Indians, are not a dying race, and they show every sign of being able to assimilate some of the ideas and skills of modern Western Civilization.97 Both the Indian and the Inuit were portrayed to theatre audiences as being equally irresponsible in their ability to handle money. In Small Fry, the 'prestige' film concerning Family Allowance, the narrator explains that for Indians and 'Eskimos', "family allowances comes in cans and packages," implying that neither could be trusted with cheques. 9 8 Of all the stereotypes imbedded in the films, the most subtle, perhaps, is that of the 'nice' Canadian. Although their thinking may be muddled (especially when they are not thinking cooperatively) the Canadians portrayed in every film are.generally thoughtful, generous, cheerful, energetic, imaginative, constructive, and healthy. None could be more exemplary of 'Film Board Canadians' than the youths at Betty's graduation party in Vitamin C (1943) a film in the Knife and Fork series. At the threshold of adulthood, the youngsters gather around a piano to sing "Alouette" before playing 'ping pong'. "If it's beauty you want," rhymes the narrator, "don't go out and buy it; just get plenty of Vitamin G in your diet." Distribution of Early NFB Films The peoples in the mirror of the National Film Board reflected a national face, a character and a purpose-a mental concept of a 'CanadianV-that was significantly different from the characters portrayed in foreign cinemas. Canadians would see themselves as being more social than their American counterparts, somewhat less important as individuals, less inclined to nationalism and more aware of the need to be world citizens as well. Having manufactured these images and the mirror in which they would be reflected, Grierson with the then director of the Wartime Information Board, Herbert Lasch, organized a system of communications to spread the national images "like wildfire across the sky . " 9 9 62. A grim fact concerning Grierson's British experience with filmmaking was that he frequently failed to garner that first essential of effective film propaganda-the audience. This despite the fact that, from his earliest days at the Empire Marketing Board, Grierson had been an innovative film distributor -- as willing to show films in the rear coaches of trains or on continuous film loops at Victoria Station, as at the regular venues, such as cine clubs. 1 0 0 In Canada, however, the audience problem was resolved when a way was found to bring the films to the remotest regions of the country, ensuring that the NFB experience would truly be a national 1 Outdoor Screening: Early 1940s one and that the Film Board would be (as Grierson had intended) the eyes of the country as a whole. Taking advantage of the goodwill he had garnered during his American experience, and by bluff and bluster, Grierson cracked open the theatre markets in Canada and the United States, guaranteeing distribution of the films of the Canada Carries On series to 300 Canadian theatres in the first 30 days of release and 900 theatres by the end of the third month. 1 0 1 At the box-office, in this the golden era of cinema, English speaking audiences for the Canada Carries On series numbered two and a quarter million each month, while another million per month saw French translations. But the Odeon theatres merely serviced a narrow band of the populace near the American border; it was the organization and expansion of an existing net-63. work of itinerant 'showmen' that truly enabled the Film Board of Canada to consider itself 'national' in scope. The showmen were the cinematic colleagues of i t i ne ran t rura l ped lars who rode t h r o u g h c i r c u i t t e r r i t o r i e s s e l l i n g 'Watkins' or 'Rawleigh' p roducts . 1 0 2 The advent of motor veh ic les , movies, and hand-cranked projectors made School Screening (Evening) „ t Q m g living peddling film entertainment on similar circuits shortly after World War I. By 1939, showmen were being employed by farm machinery companies, as well as by provincial and federal government agencies, to attract crowds with free movies in order to advertise products or disseminate government policies. In January 1942, thirty of these non-theatrical film circuits were organized under the joint auspices of the Wartime Information Board and the National Film B o a r d . 1 0 3 Each projectionist was paid $130 per month, plus equipment and car expenses, and was charged with bringing NFB film programs once a month to twenty rural communities, villages and towns without theatres, as well as to an equal number of schools. Attendance, according to NFB figures, averaged 2,200 per week per circuit. By 1945, the number of rural circuits had climbed from the original thirty to ninety-two, a monthly average of 1,700 community and school shows.104 Each projectionist was provided a programme of seventy to ninety minutes in length 64. through a regional agent, such as Watson Thomson, head of the Adult Education Division at the University of M a n i t o b a . 1 0 5 In 1944, a typical programme contained two Canada Carries On films about the war, two films of an educational nature, and Post -screening D iscuss ion one or two cartoons, sometimes from Disney Studios, but more often by the leading NFB animator of the era, Norman McLaren, whom Grierson had recruited in Scotland in 1936 for the GPO film unit. Projectionists were required to send in a detailed monthly report to Helen Watson, who coordinated the rural circuits from her desk in Ottawa. In the early days of the rural circuits, the showmen reported that on their first round, one-half or more of the people in the audience were seeing a sound film for the first t i m e . 1 0 6 Illustrative of rural audience naivete about the medium is this anecdote by CW. Gray, himself a showman during the war: In a northern Saskatchewan community the audience was seated on two-by-ten planks set on two-foot blocks of large cordwood down the length of the hall. One of the films showed a train coming straight down the track toward the audience, who had never seen a train before, let alone a movie of one. As the train came closer and closer, and loomed larger and larger on the screen, the audience leaned farther and farther backward. At the climax of the scene every member of the audience tumbled backward, and they and the planks and the firewood slabs crashed resoundingly onto the floor. 107 The monthly film programmes became widely attended community events throughout rural Canada. It became the practice to combine the movies with basket socials, 65. dances, fund raising, and sports: baseball in the summer or hockey games in the winter. Schools would close in the afternoon and children would hike miles to arrive in a town where the films would be s h o w n . 1 0 8 Audiences remained past midnight to discuss the films, the crops, the weather, and the roads. From the outset non-theatrical films reached nearly a quarter million rural Canadians a month, an average attendance of 250 children at an afternoon showing and 275 adults each even ing . 1 0 9 In addition, industrial film circuits were organized to reach nearly 133,000 urban workers each month, while volunteer projectionists covered urban community groups not reached by other circuits-churches, co-ops, hospitals, hotels, libraries, orphanages, women's groups, children's parties, union meetings, veterans' hospitals, seniors' homes, at parks, and even on city s t r e e t s . 1 1 0 By 1945 some 3,112 prints of 761 films were being shown on urban and rural circuits to an average monthly audience of 598,000. 1 1 1 Moreover, National Film Board libraries at home drew 400,000 viewers month ly . 1 1 2 When added to the three and a quarter million Canadians who were watching the Canada Carries On series at the Odeon theatres, nearly four and a quarter million Canadians were exposed each month to their cinematic image in the mirror offered them by John Grierson-this in a country of only eleven and one-half m i l l i on . 1 1 3 66. Grierson's Departure: A Chapter Closes Having brought to maturity 'the idea and influence' of the documentary film, indeed, having foreshadowed the influence of television yet to come, Grierson may have felt confident that his reputation had been redeemed sufficiently to re-emerge onto the world stage. But fate had a twist in store for him. James Beveridge, one of the early filmmakers trained under Grierson, recalls that the international perspective brought down a certain suspicion of Grierson and Legg, "an uncertainty concerning their exact focus and motive, and their ideo logy. " 1 1 4 Eventually, such suspicions were the undoing of Grierson. Mackenzie King took abrupt and sudden notice when criticism erupted in Parliament from Conservative MP, A.R. Adamson, that the Film Board had "become a propagandist for a type of socialist and foreign philosophy" and was "obviously putting out Soviet p ropaganda. " 1 1 5 Although Grierson successfully resisted an attempt by External Affairs to have the Film Board placed under a review committee, his freewheeling and halcyon days were soon brought to an e n d . 1 1 6 John Grierson resigned from the National Film Board on 10 August 1945. Four weeks later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were handed information by Igor Gouzenko, a defector from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, implicating the NFB in a spy ring. Although Grierson was never seriously implicated, he became persona non grata to many, including Mackenzie K i n g . 1 1 7 In 1946, Grierson and Stuart Legg attempted to organize a documentary film company based in New York City; "The World Today, Inc.," but their nascent organization collapsed shortly after J. Edgar Hoover, director of the F.B.I., became convinced that Grierson was a communist sympathizer and applied pressure to have his immigration visa revoked. The filmmaker's career never recovered. 1 1 8 John Grierson, however, had often insisted that it was not himself who was of importance, but the 'documentary idea' itself; i.e., film as a sociological instrument for manipulating public opinion. And to judge from the actions of those who held executive sway over the NFB, on this they agreed. For although most NFB personnel anticipated their swift 67. termination following the war, especially in the wake of the Gouzenko allegations, those who held the purse strings evidently judged the efficacy and potential of the NFB worthwhile perpetuating-since the 'documentary idea' as practiced at the National Film Board survived its founder's fall from grace. The mandarins who kept the NFB functioning after the war did so in part because they shared John Grierson's vision of a 'progressive' democracy in Canada, centrally planned and organized, and, in part, because they shared his faith in the 'documentary idea' to achieve it-- that (as Grierson had said all along) "it patently w o r k s . " 1 1 9 Indeed, the Film Board had sought and gathered evidence of its own efficacy throughout the war years by ordering special reports from its field representatives concerning selected productions. One such production was Lessons in Living, a film for which sufficient documentation remains to permit a detailed examination of the construction of a rural community in 'NFB society' during the early-years of the National Film Board. Given Grierson's interest in education and the interest of the NFB in practical results, Lessons in Living is illuminating of the 'documentary idea', of Grierson's 'educational revolution', of the nature of Canadian progressivism, and of the role played by the NFB-the 'eyes of democracy'~in the social refashioning of post-war Canada and Canadian childhood. Endnote^ 1 Jeremy Bentham quoted in Ross Harrison, Bentham (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), p. 223. 2 David B. Jones. Movies and Memoranda: An Interpretative History of the National Film Board of Canada (Ottawa: Canadian Film Institute, 1981), p. 30. 3 An energetic, hardy, law-abiding, and loyal people were the attributes of the Canadian national character from the mid-19th century through the early-20th century according to Carl Berger in "The Canadian Character," in his The Sense of Power: Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism. 1867-1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), pp.128-52. In addition, most English-Canadians remained 'British' in their outlook at least until the end of World War II. Indeed, not only did the 'Union Jack' fly over the inside front cover of the New Canadian Readers (Toronto: W.J. Gage, 1929) but, to judge from NFB films from 1939-1946, over most Canadian cities, towns, and villages as well. 68 . 4 James Beveridge, John Grierson. Film Master (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1978), p. 5. 5 Forsyth Hardy, John Grierson: A Documentary Bionraphy (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), p. 13. Industrialists in the Clyde Valley, historically isolated from the exercise of political power and influence over Scottish civil society, faced a formidable challenge for the control of the workers' efforts in the early 20th century following a crucial advance in the orientation of the organized workforce toward an alternate vision of common interests and mutual assistance. The movement was embraced by a wide body of the Glaswegian populace and supported by the Independent Labour Party, the Catholic Church, and a significant number of professionals including several barristers. A succinct account of the Clydeside phenomenon may be found in Joseph Melling, "Scottish Industrialists and the Changing Character of Class Relations in the Clyde Region c. 1880-1918," in Tony Dickson, ed., Capital and Class in Scotland. (Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers Ltd., 1982), pp. 61-142. 6 Hardy, John Grierson. p. 21. 7 Nicholas Pronay, "John Grierson and the Documentary--60 years on," Historical Journal of Film. Radio and Television. 9, 3 (1989): 231. 8 Hardy, John Grierson. p. 27. 9 According to film historian Nicholas Pronay, John Grierson and his supporters created and sustained much of the still widely accepted myth of the young Grierson as a 'gifted intellectual' and 'charismatic leader' to enable the more mature Grierson to mould the documentary film movement into what it eventually became. According to Pronay, Grierson made an impressive start as an undergraduate, winning a prize in both his first and second years, "But the flying start of the first two years was not maintained." Instead of an "MA with Honours...he got only an Ordinary MA Unclassified in 1923". Grierson succeeded in having it upgraded to Honours but "failed to get a First, or even a good Upper Second". "This was not the achievement run of an 'outstanding student" of academic potential." Nor was Grierson ever a 'lecturer' at Durham University as portrayed by Hardy and others: The real story is that, of course, he could not possibly get an academic appointment with such a poor degree. What he did get was a job in the Registry of the Newcastle extension of Durham University....What he did do in additon to working the Registry was some extradural adult education work. That, as we all know, means something quite different! What brought success to Grierson, according to Pronay, was his 'clever choice' of sociology as a field for post-graduate study when applying for a Rockefeller Fellowship and his unfailing ability to make a great initial impression on others. See Nicholas Pronay, "John Grierson and the Documentary--60 years on," Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television. 9, 3 (1989): 227-46. 1 0 John Grierson, "Revolution in the Arts," Speech given at the University of North Carolina, 1962, quoted in Beveridge, John Grierson. Film Master, p. 27-8. 69. 1 1 Beveridge, John Grierson. Film Master, p. 28. 1 2 Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York: Macmillan Company, 1922), p. 29. 1 3 Ibid., p. 222. 1 4 Mi-, p. 156. 1 5 Ian Aitken, Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement (London: Routledge, 1990), p. 19. 1 6 M i , , p. 25. 1 7 JJjId. 1 8 Lippmann, Public Opinion, pp. 31-32. 1 9 Ml., p. 369. 2 0 Ml,. PP- 378 & 386. 21 Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public (New York: Macmillan Company, 1926), p. 148. 2 2 M i -2 3 M i - P- 155. 2 4 Lippmann, Public Opinion, p. 92. 2 5 Mi-, pp. 91 & 165. 2 6 John Grierson quoted in Hardy, John Grierson. p. 36. 2 7 As Nicholas Pronay points out however: "...this did not mean that the research fellows were expected to do nothing else." Pronay," John Grierson and the Documentary-60 years on," p. 232. 2 8 Ben Lindsay was an early promoter and veteran judge of the juvenile court. In the course of his work, Lindsay had informally analyzed and expressed concern about the relationship between films and juvenile delinquency. Jack C. Ellis, "The Young Grierson in America, 1924-1927", in Cinema Journal, viii, no. 17 (Fall 1968): 17. 2 9 Joyce Nelson, The Colonized Eye: Rethinking the Grierson Legend (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 1988), p. 29. The distribution division of Famous Players-Lasky was Paramount Pictures, one of the most powerful studio conglomerates in the world. 3 0 Aitken. Film and Reform, p. 68. 70. 3 1 Ian Jarvie and Robert L. MacMillan, "John Grierson on Hollywood's Success, 1927," in Historical Journal of Film. Radio, and Television. 9, no. 3 (1989): 314. 3 2 Hardy, John Grierson. p. 39. 3 3 John Grierson quoted in Jarvie and MacMillan, "John Grierson on Hollywood's Success, 1927" p. 313. 3 4 Ibid., p. 309 & 313. 3 5 Ibid., p. 313. 3 6 M i . , P- 310. 3 7 Mi - , P- 315. 3 8 John Grierson quoted in Nelson, The Colonized Eye, p. 29. 3 9 Hardy, John Grierson. p. 42. 4 0 So certain was Revillon Freres of the public relations value of a film about Eskimos and the fur trade that when Robert Flaherty, the filmmaker, accidentally dropped a lit cigarette into a year's worth of filming and lost it all, the company financed his return to Ungava to shoot Nanook of the North a second time. See Hardy, John Grierson. p. 41. 4 1 John Grierson quoted in Nelson. The Colonized Eye, p. 30. 4 2 Sir Stephen Tallents quoted in Gary Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board: The Politics of Wartime Propaganda (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), p. 29. Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey were well known (and widely influential) Protestant evangelists who toured Britain and the United States together during the 1870s. 4 3 Nelson. The Colonized Eye, p. 35. 4 4 John Grierson interview by Take One Magazine. February, 1970, quoted in Erik Barnouw, Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 9 1 . 4 5 Roger Blais, Director, Grierson (Montreal: 58 min., 16mm, sound, colour film, National Film Board of Canada, 1973). 4 6 Hardy, John Grierson. p. 65. 4 7 Thomas Edison quoted in Jones, Movies and Memoranda, p. 27. 4 8 Nelson, The Colonized Eve, p. 38; Hardy, John Grierson. pp. 83-84. 7 1 . 4 9 Nelson, The Colonized Eye, p. 40. An illustration of this trade-off is the film Housing Problems (1935) a GPO documentary on life in the slums of London sponsored by the Gas, Light, and Coke Company, who were "persuaded by Grierson that the demolition of derelict slums and their replacement by government-financed housing...would inevitably bring modernization and increased use of gas." See Barnouw, Documentary, pp. 94-5. 5 0 Nelson. The Colonized Eve. 41. 51 Arthur Calder-Marshall quoted in Hardy, John Grierson. p. 80. 52 The mystery originates from contradictory accounts of the circumstances of Grierson leaving Britain for Canada on the eve of World War II. According to Nicholas Pronay, his harshest critic, the British civil service had tired of Grierson's arrogance, so he was "blackballed from the club," forced to resign from the GPO in June 1937 after his position was abolished. In this version of the story, Grierson announced he was leaving the GPO on the pretense of organizing an independent 'Film Centre', which he did, but, according to Pronay, so thoroughly had the civil service "swatted him...coldly, mercilessly, effectively," that the centre failed to find backers, and Grierson was forced to seek opportunities abroad. An opposing account has been offered by Gary Evans in his study of the politics of propaganda in wartime Canada. By this account, in 1938, Grierson was engaged by Stephen Tallents, the official who had arranged for his first film, Drifters, to work for the Imperial Relations Trust, an organization connected to Britain's secret service and allegedly concerned with British propaganda efforts for the war looming on the horizon. Tallents informed Grierson that the British government wished the filmmaker to undertake a covert assignment: to set up a North American propaganda base to urge Canada and the United States into an active partnership with Britain if a war should come. Grierson did remain on the payroll of the trust until mid-1941. How the British government could both 'swat' Grierson coldly and at the same time take him into its most secret confidence is a puzzle. The truth likely lies in the papers of Tallents and internal documents from 'Whitehall'. 53 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 52. 54 Ibid. 5 5 McKay, "History of the National Film Board of Canada," p. 3. 5 6 Evans. John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 55. 5 7 Nelson. The Colonized Eve, p. 44. 5 8 O.D. Skelton, under-secretary of state for external affairs, quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p.54. The definitive biography of Mackenzie King remains R. MacGregor Dawson and H. Blair Neatby's three volume work, William Lyon Mackenzie King: a political biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1958-1976). Other works that focus on King's employment by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. include Henry Ferns and Bernard Ostry in the Age of Mackenzie King: the rise of the leader (Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 1955) and John English and J.O. Stubbs, ed., in Mackenzie King: Widening the Debate (Toronto: MacMillan Company of Canada Ltd., 1977). 72 . 5 9 Pronay,"John Grierson and the Documentary--60 years on," p. 238. 6 0 John Grierson, Eyes of Democracy (Stirling: University of Stirling Press, 1990), pp. 130-31, 133. 61 Nelson. The Colonized Eve, p. 62. 6 2 James Beveridge quoted in the Journal of the Society of Film and Television Arts. 2, nos. 4-5 (1972): 12; also cited in Jones, Movies and Memoranda, p. 24. 6 3 Barbara Halpern Martineau, "Before the Guerillieres: Women's Films at the NFB During World War II," in Canadian Film Reader. Seth Feldman and Joyce Nelson, eds. (Toronto: Peter Martin Associates Ltd., 1977), p. 62. 6 4 Marjory McKay, of course, later became the Film Board's first historian. 6 5 Jane Marsh quoted in Martineau, "Before the Guerillieres: Women's Films at the NFB During World War II," p. 63. 6 6 McKay, "History of the National Film Board of Canada", p. 1. 6 7 John Grierson in a letter of resignation dated 27 November 1940, submitted to (but not accepted by) the National Film Board chairman, James A. MacKinnon, cited in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 77. Grierson, however, was never reluctant to seek out bureaucrats if a sponsored film might result. If a government department did not know that they needed a film, Grierson would persuade them that they did. He is said to have once remarked, "Never give a sponsor an even break." Cited in Jones, Movies and Memoranda, p. 31 . 6 8 Nelson, The Colonized Eye, p. 65. 6 9 Julian Roffman quoted in Nelson, The Colonized Eye, p. 62. 70 Nelson. The Colonized Eve, p. 63. 7 1 In 1970, Sydney Newman became the first alumnus of the National Film Board to become its Film Commissioner. 7 2 Sydney Newman quoted in Beveridge, John Grierson. Film Master, p. 158-9. Emphasis mine. Tales of Grierson's forays to control the content of government film production are legend. For an especially enlightening example see Robert MacMillan, "A Note Concerning John Grierson and the National Gallery of Canada, 1939-1943," in Historical Journal of Film. Radio and Television. 9, no. 3 (1989): 283-90. 7 3 Soundtrack from 100.000 Cadets. 17 min., 16mm, sound, B&W film, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal, P.Q., Canada, 1942. 7 4 John Grierson quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 94 . 73. 75 Grierson, Eyes of Democracy, p. 105. 76 Ibid., p. 136. 7 7 John Grierson quoted in The John Grierson Project, McGill University, John Grierson and the NFB (Montreal: ECW Press, 1984), p. vii. 78 John Grierson quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 94. 79 Jbid-, p. 32. 8 0 Ibid., p. 95. 81 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Production No. 6034, Recorded October 26, 1944. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q. 8 2 Soundtrack from Before They Are Six. 19 min., 16mm, sound, B&W film^ National Film Board of Canada, Montreal, P.Q., Canada, 1943. 83 Ibid. 8 4 John Grierson quoted in Dennis Forman and Gus MacDonald, The John Grierson Archive (Stirling: University of Stirling Press, 1978), p. 18. 8 5 CW. Gray, "Movies for the People: The Story of the National Film Board's Unique Distribution System," unpublished major paper (Ottawa: National Film Board of Canada, 1973), p. 92. 8 6 Soundtrack from Small Fry. 10 min., 16mm, sound, B&W film, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal, P.Q., Canada, 1946. Ironically, although Grierson pressed his cooperative philosophy at the Film Board, underscoring his policy of filmmaking as a cooperative effort by imposing a policy of no credit titles on 'prestige' films, in his own work he demonstrated 'a brazen independence from others'. See Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p.214; see Joyce Nelson, The Colonized Eve: Rethinking the Grierson Legend (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 1988), p. 29. 8 7 Nelson. The Colonized Eve, p. 29. 8 8 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 170. 8 9 Tom Daly quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 120. Grierson described Lome Greene's voice as "having a built-in cello." 9 0 Soundtrack from Tomorrow's Citizens. 10 min., 16mm, sound, B&W film, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal, P.Q., Canada, 1947. 91 John Grierson quoted in Nelson, The Colonized Eye, p. 80. 74. 9 2 Soundtrack from Suffer Little Children. 10 min., 16mm, sound, B&W film, National Film Board of Canada, Montreal, P.Q., Canada, 1945. 9 3 Outside of Quebec, the second largest market for the wartime films of L'Office national du film was Cine France. 9 4 Beveridge, John Grierson. Film Master, p. 127. 9 5 Paul Theriault quoted in Beveridge, John Grierson. Film Master, p. 207; 9 6 The use of technicolour in National Film Board films of this era is unique to the filmed portrayals of the Indians and the Inuit, for tourism films and for the animated films of Norman McLaren. 9 7 Basil Wright, "An Innocent in Canada," in The John Grierson Project McGill University, John Grierson and the NFB. (Montreal: ECW Press, 1984), p. 133. 9 8 Family Allowance Act, 1944, 8 & 9 George V, ch. 40, 11 (d): "provide that in the case of Indians and Eskimaux payment of the allowance shall be made to a person authorized by the Governor in Council to receive and apply the same." 9 9 John Grierson, "Searchlight on Democracy," in Forsyth Hardy, ed., Grierson on Documentary (London: Faber and Faber, 1966), p. 233. Although unique for the scope and scale of the system, in fact a similar system of distribution had been put in place in Nazi Germany to bring propaganda films to the most remote regions of that nation in the 1930s. See Martin Loiperdinger and David Culbert, "Leni Riefenstahl, the SA, and the Nazi Party Rally Films, Nuremberg 1933-1934: Sieg des Glaubens and Triumph des Willens." Historical Journal of Film. Radio and Television. 8, 1 (1988): 12. 1 00 Hardy, John Grierson. p. 48. 101 Evans. John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 122. 1 02 C W . Gray, "Movies for the People," p. 7. Gray's work is an entertaining first hand account of the early showmen and NFB projectionists. 1 03 M L . p. 40. 1 04 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 162. 1 05 A comprehensive biography of Watson Thomson, who attended university with Grierson and was equally influenced by Clydeside politics, is found in Michael Robert Welton, "To Be and Build the Glorious World': The Educational Thought and Practice of Watson Thomson, 1899-1946," (Ph.D. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1983). Following his work at the University of Manitoba, Thomson was appointed in 1944 to a Saskatchewan government post as the head of a division of adult education. 1 06 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 148. 75. 1 07 Gray, "Movies for the People," p. 38. 1 08 M l . , p. 48. I 09 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 150. Audience attendance averaged from provincial figures provided by Evans. I I 0 Gray, "Movies for the People," p. 56. I I I Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 162. Audience numbers are a summation of figures provided by Evans. 112 M l -11 3 Government of Canada, The Canada Year Book (Ottawa: Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Department of Trade and Commerce, 1946), p. 94. Even if NFB attendance figures are halved to allow for a tendency toward exaggeration, the scope and size of the national audience is impressive. 114 The John Grierson Project, John Grierson and the NFB. p. 33. 115 B.T. Richardson, "Our Films and Critics," Victoria Daily Times. 6 April 1944, p. 4. A.R. Adamson quoted in Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 207. 1 1 6 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 215. 1 1 7 Grierson's reputation was a casualty of what Reg Whitaker and Gary Marcuse have described as the "national insecurity state" that followed Gouzenko's defection from the Soviet Embassy. The documents handed over to the RCMP by Gouzenko implicating the Film Board in a Soviet spy ring included a hastily jotted note by a Lieutenant Colonel Motinov: "Professor. Research Council-report on organization and work. Freda to the Professor through Grierson." The intent was to have Freda Linton, Grierson's secretary, transferred from the Film Board to the National Research Council through Grierson's office. See Reg Whitaker and Gary Marcuse, Cold War Canada: The Making of a National Insecurity State. 1945-1957 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994). 118 According to Nelson, following Grierson's first appearance before the Taschereau-Kellock Commission in April, 1946, J. Edgar Hoover was so convinced that Grierson was a communist sympathizer that he sent out Grierson's dossier to various senior bureaucrats in Washington and did his utmost to cause problems and delays in Grierson's securing of an immigration visa, which was eventually revoked in February 1947. Nelson, The Colonized Eye, pp. 154-8; Hardy, John Grierson, pp. 162-3. 11 9 Grierson, Eyes of Democracy, p. 136; Emphasis his. 76. NFB Kids Portrayals of Children bv the National Film Board of Canada 1 9 3 9 - 1 9 8 9 Chapter 3 Lessons in Uvino: 'Deconstmction' of a Rural Community in Early NFB Society The community of Lantzville, B.C. is a cross-section of nationalities and industrial groups-farmers, fishermen, lumbermen and railroad workers, with a down-at-heel spirit and a down-at-heel public school. 1 - NFB Information Sheet Lessons in Living One morning, early in 1944, the children of Lantzville's two-room elementary school were distracted from their deskwork by a crew of workmen erecting a tower across the roadway. That afternoon, the older boys were excused from their regular classwork and were instructed to dismantle some sections of the fence around the schoolyard and loosen a few of the remaining pickets. They did so with relish. Afterward, all the window boxes were removed from around the schoolhouse and-this to the children's greatest suprise-the Lantzville Community Hall, a converted barn located at the rear of the Vancouver Island school, was loaded with hay and a rough-hewn loft constructed inside it.2 77. The Lantzville school was being prepared as the location for Lessons in Living, a National Film Board of Canada production and one of 138 film productions that would be released by the NFB in 1944. 3 Ostensibly, the purpose of each production was to 'help Canadians in all parts of Canada to understand the ways of living and the problems of Canadians in other parts,' in short: to mirror Canada to Canadians. 4 But the reflections were not always the realities that Canadian audiences believed them to be. They were 'creative treatments of actuality'-they were 'documentaries'-and they were produced not so much to reflect reality as to crystallize public sentiments and manufacture public opinions. 5 Lessons in Living was being produced to manufacture favourable public attitudes for progressive educational practices throughout rural Canada. Distributed nationally for more than a decade, Lessons in Living would lead audiences to believe that a poorly maintained and pedagogically static, two-room school had been transformed by progressive action into the very model of what a rural school might be: physically and pedagogically the equal of any urban school in Canada, complete with a gymnasium to serve the school's and community's needs. Leading the transformation of the community, as documented on film, is an educational 'expert' (the new school inspector) Dr. William Plenderleith, who rouses the village children from their educational slumber with an inspirational classroom speech: Dr. P. - Just a minute class. Would you like a gym and a library and a workshop? Class - Yeah - sure do - that would be swell - I wouldn't mind school then, etc. Dr. P. - Alright, I think you can get them. But you'll have to work for them. I would suggest that you get together and decide what you want; get your parents and the rest of the ratepayers behind the scheme then if everyone agrees you can start to work. You can accomplish almost anything if you pull together. Now, you people, it's up to you to get things rolling.6 As documented in the film, the Lantzville children rise to Plenderleith's challenge. In cooperative committees, the youngsters plan their modern school. With the teacher's approval they toss their desks outside and bring in tables. They paint the room, bring in plants, a radio, and a library of books. While Plenderleith organizes provincial funding and 78. school board support for the project, the children repair and paint the dilapidated fence around their school yard and instal l decorated, exterior window boxes. On the 'opening nighf of their new school, a group of parents are so impressed by what the children have accom-plished by 'pulling together* they team up to convert a local barn into a community hall. From the school it spread out into the homes, because once started, community energy is dynamic. Constantly ahead is a continuing line of objectives, each only a stepping stone to all the rest. This much can be done by co-operation within one community. Soon we can look outward to even greater achievements, through co-operation between groups of communities.7 On celluloid, progressive education improved both the material and social conditions of life in Lantzville. But in truth, Lantzville school had been proudly kept by the community long before the directors of the film ordered the children to dismantle the fence and remove the flowerboxes so that these could be 'repaired' and reinstalled for the production. Likewise, the Vancouver Island community had a recreation centre long before the school gym was filled with hay so that "a valueless old barn" could be renovated by cooperative effort into a community hall. Of greater interest to the NFB filmmakers than an accurate portrayal of Lantzville school was that a cinematic 'lesson in living' should be conveyed to other towns and villages concerning the utility of progressivism to a rural community-an illusion which, among all the others in the film, may stand as its grandest.8 79. This chapter is a historical 'deconstruction' of Lessons in Livinq-an untangling of the agendas that led to the construction of a NFB rural community in 1944, not by 'semiotics' but by the careful uncovering of primary evidence to expose the unseen significance of its cinematic parable of progressivism. As with the film, the chapter begins in Ottawa, Victoria and Lantzville; but especially in Lantzville where, in early January 1944, an Ottawa based film unit from the National Film Board of Canada-W.A. Macdonald, Edith Spencer, John Norwood and Hank Lane-checked into the only hotel in town, with their sound equipment and cameras, but without a script or a producer. The producer, Dallas Jones, and his script, '#6034, Rural Youth' had been detained in Ottawa for a further week by the Government Film Commissioner, John Grierson, who wished to make additions to the storyline before sending it and Jones to rejoin the group now encamping on Vancouver Island. The script that the film crew awaited in Lantzville had already undergone significant revisions since Jones had adapted its screenplay from an abridged story he had read in the appendix of the 1942 Proceedings of the Twentieth Convention of the Canada and Newfoundland Educational Association (CNEA). 9 The full text of that story, "Kindling New Fires in Smoky Lane: How the School Aroused the Community," had been presented by Leonard Bercuson, an official of the Alberta Department of Education to the CNEA delegates at their convention held at Victoria that year. In his presentation- of the story, Bercuson had waxed eloquently over a fable of rural youth imbued with the progressive spirit of democratic cooperation: This was the true function of the school. It should be the fountain-head of the community, its laboratory, library and thought centre, dedicated to the service of the whole population. No longer was it to meet the needs of the youth only; no longer was it to foster a cloistered learning that divorced the school from the Community which should give it vibrant life. The curriculum was to have its basis in the problems and activities of the village, town or city in a programme committed to making existence fuller and richer for all.i o The children of Smoky Lane, Alberta, according to Bercuson, set out from their village school one afternoon armed with brushes, brooms, soap, and paint to convert "a ramshackle, dilapidated little building on main street" into a community library. "As a final 80. touch the students fashioned lovingly out of sturdy blocks of wood the letters of the words 'Community Library' and mounted them proudly over the door." 1 1 Inspired by the children's activities the adults of the village contributed books to the library, and inspired, in turn, by the adults' activities the province contributed more books. Their lesson learned, the children set out to build a skating rink in the winter, raise funds for the Dominion War Services Campaign in the spring, and later obliged the village council to ban all swine and cattle from the village limits. We sought to broaden the horizons of education for those young people; we strove to show them how significant a place the ideal of community service must assume in the scheme of truly worthy living. Because it was our simple faith that education finds its content and its inspiriation in the devotion of the community, and that the concept takes on sublimity only as the word community grows broader and broader in its connotation, until it embraces the whole of humanity itself.i 2 Smokv Lane to Lantzville: from parable to production To the delegates at the Victoria CNEA convention, "Kindling New Fires in Smoky Lane: How the School Aroused the Community," was a parable of post-war reconstruction and the role of education in it—a fresh generation of children marching out from their schools to tidy up and improve a corner of the world and thereby inspiring their elders to do the same; 1 3 To Dallas Jones it was a film opportunity, but one for which he conceived a more believable 'corner' in which the improvements might begin: the children's own school. "Kindling New Fires in Smoky Lane" was a tale undoubtedly heard by a number of prominent British Columbian educators who were registered at the 1942 CNEA conference at Victoria, among them leading provincial administrators including M.A. Cameron, Dr. S.J. Willis, H.B. King, and G.M. Weir (the former Minister of Education)-and Inspector Plenderleith of Nanaimo, to whom Dallas Jones now wrote from Ottawa late in December 1943 to apologize for being delayed in his arrival at Lantzville and to explain further changes to the scr ipt : 8 1 . Our script has undergone further changes since I last talked to you, these at the suggestion of the Government Film Commissioner. The changes were suggested only a few hours before the unit was ready to entrain here for the West, so the unit will not have a complete revised script with them; however, I am sending one out just as soon as I can get it finished. 14 'Further changes' was a reference to the changes already made by the producer to his script, "Rural Youth", following his meetings with S.J. Willis and Plenderleith on Vancouver Island in the fall of 1943. Initially, Jones had brought the script to Victoria and to the Deputy Minister of Education, S.J. Willis, since Dr. Willis had been president of the CNEA in 1942 and thus was well aware of the post-war, educational significance of the "Smoky Lane" tale. Willis approved of the producer's ideas for a film on the theme of "Kindling New Fires" and, likewise, he approved of its production in British Columbia. Moreover, the Deputy Minister had a practical idea of his own about the significance of a cinematic rendering of the parable, and in particular its proclamation that "the word community grows broader and broader in its connotation, until it embraces the whole of humanity i tself." 1 5 As a delegate at the 1941 convention of the CNEA at Ottawa, Willis, along with the other educational elite of Canada, had been cautioned by the conference keynote speaker, R.C. Wallace, about the necessity to educate the public about progressive changes to their school systems during "the present movement towards larger administrative areas in education". 1 6 Later that evening, at the CNEA banquet at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa, the latest vehicle for educating the Canadian public was unveiled, as the educators were introduced to Ross McLean, Deputy Film Commissioner of the National Film Board of Canada, who "explained the purpose of the Bureau and illustrated its work by showing some of its newest f i lms." 1 7 Now, in the fall of 1943 at Victoria, with a NFB producer before him in his office and the issues surrounding larger administrative areas looming before the Department, the Deputy Minister clearly envisioned the expediency of coupling the Film Board production with the consolidation of rural school districts in the province. He promptly arranged for Dallas 82 . Jones to meet with William Plenderleith, who was currently in charge of British Columbia's first, rural-city administrative unit at Nanaimo-Ladysmith.18 At this juncture, a note concerning William Plenderleith's career is worth relating. In 1934, Inspector Plenderleith, at age 35, had been in charge of the pioneering effort to create B.C.'s first large unit of school administration in the Peace River area. His report on the experiment, "The Peace River Larger Unit of Administration," became his dissertation for a D.Paed. from the University of Toronto. In his thesis, a work he dedicated to Drs. G.M. Weir and S.J. Willis, Plenderleith argued that decentralization of control in rural school districts was the most significant flaw in British Columbia's educational system/ 1 9 He observed that "the present Public Schools Act gives the local taxpayer practically complete control over the conduct and administration of the local school."2 0 Such autonomy, he felt, was detrimental to democratic principles of equality of opportunity in the province. As long as we have over seven hundred separate autonomous school units-some of which are extremely wealthy, and others pitifully poor-there must remain gross differences in the educational opportunities of our children. Here we find a district with an enriched curriculum; progressive administration and supervision; a teaching staff well-qualified; and buildings that are sanitary, fire-proof and attractive. Yet, in a neighbouring district, we may see housing and equipment that are meagre and unsafe; a traditional curriculum that is poor; administrative and supervisory service that is inadequate or actually lacking; and even a teaching personnel that is relatively inexperienced and untrained.21 "In the interests of posterity," Plenderleith concluded, "rural schools must be administered by the provincial government."22 But not all of the rural Peace River communities wished their schools administered by the provincial government; and that was the rub for Plenderleith. Some community members perceived a flaw in a democracy organized by outside experts for others to cooperate within: Now, we (residents) both believe thoroughly in the value of the contribution of experts in all departments of life, but we seem to remember a question propounded by Aristotle in our nearly forgotten classics. In his "Politics" while comparing the respective merits of democratic government and that by experts, he asks, "Which is the better judge of the merits of a house, the expert carpenter who may build it, or the man who 83. expects to use it and for whom it is built?" We think that his answer was not altogether in favour of the expert. And surely it may be that even the rural taxpayer and parent may have a little insight into the practical educational needs and requirements of his children.23 Plenderleith made light of community sentiment. "Practically every community in the Peace River area has a distinct individuality which it prefers to keep intact," he wro te . 2 4 "Too often, the mere mention of abandoning control of the little red school sounds a discordant twang on the heartstrings of memory." 2 5 But from the communities themselves, residents hammered at the principles of democracy employed by Plenderleith and the department. Wrote one: "The war was supposed to be fought to save democracy. Guess we lost, as Webster's Dictionary defines that word: 'Government by the people. '" 2 6 While another wrote: "This whole innovation (is) scandalously un-British in character and utterly undemocratic in principle and smacks of Nazi or Fascist Dictatorship." 2 7 And the headlines of the Peace River Block News. November 12, 1935, read: "School Strike Threatened in Peace River: Residents Object to 'Dictatorship' By Inspector Plenderleith." 2 8 Plenderleith tackled the insurgency head on. He advertised a meeting for ratepayers from the districts in which trouble was fomenting and on 14 December 1935 drew an assembly of 250 people. To the assembled he explained the constitutionality of the larger unit of administration under the British North America Act, then presented an alternate definition of democracy: "The essence of democracy is equality of opportunity". 2 9 He enlightened the audience about the practical benefits of the scheme, dwelling on a projected $2,800 savings, and promised further benefits if the consolidation proceeded: free medical examination of the children; free preventive treatments including innoculation, vaccination, and goitre prevention; yearly dental services including examination and remedial work; free night schools for adults; free high school tuition for students; subsidized eyeglasses; a travelling library; and "any additional necessary education equipment that will give the children of these 84. districts an equal opportunity for educational development comparable to the best that can be had in the wealthier centres." 3 0 In conclusion, I ask: if you as parents of children, would be willing to sacrifice the interests of your children and the advantages that I have just enumerated by attempting to adhere to a system of administration that has long outworn its usefulness. If you wish to deprive your children of these additional benefits, vote against the system; if you wish your children to receive these benefits, vote for it.31 The vote was three to one in favour of cooperation with the Department of Education. William Plenderleith was now acknowledged as the consolidation 'expert' in the Department of Education, and he was called upon to perform the same service in 1937 in the Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford Educational Area, before being summoned by Victoria in the summer of 1942 to organize the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Unit: the first rural-city unit of educational administration. 3 2 Nanaimo-Ladysmith was to be the final 'experiment' in consolidating districts before the Cameron Report of 1946 and provincial consolidation of small districts in toto--and one for which, Plenderleith learned, a 'documentary film' would be produced. When Plenderleith was introduced by S.J. Willis to Dallas Jones, the NFB producer, in the fall of 1943 there can be little doubt that Plenderleith offered the filmmaker at once some practical advice about writing a script promoting rural-city consolidation. Hence a story that had begun with children marching out of a rural school imbued with a spirit of community revitalization, now would begin with disgruntled youth trudging to school on a quest for democratic 'equal opportunity': Boy 1 - Aw, you're making it up. Boy 2 - But I saw it with my own eyes. They've got a swell gym and workshops with lots of tools and kitchens for the girls and everything. Boy 3 - Those city kids get everything. Boy 4 - I wouldn't mind school if we could have all that stuff.33 This new beginning would impart a new, and more material, meaning to the original idealism of "Kindling New Fires in Smoky Lane" and a practical message to be read into the film's ending: "Soon we can look outward to even greater achievements, through co-operation 85. between groups of communit ies." 3 4 Still, the initiative for community revitalization was to come from inside the school, even if it was for material gain. Dallas Jones completed the revised script in Ottawa on 22 December 1943 and wrote to Plenderleith the following day to tell him it was finalized. He apologized for his tardiness, set a departure date of 27 December, mentioned the names of the film crew, and assured Plenderleith "We have budgeted for the cost of any materials to redecorate the recreation hall at Lantzvi l le." 3 5 Of the rewritten script, the producer remarked "I hope you will like our script when you see it...we leave the village with a healthy progressive spirit of democratic cooperation as they enjoy the improvements they have made and continue to plan more." 3 6 We end our film by pointing to the future of these people. We indicate that cooperation inside the community has been a proven success, but beyond that there is a broader success, their intercommunity cooperation and we lead into the idea of the larger unit of administration and school consolidation. The film ends as it shows the advantages to be had by the larger cooperative effort.37 Thus, from Ottawa Station, on 27 December 1943, the three man and one woman film crew for Production No. 6043 "Rural Youth" began their five day train journey to Vancouver--but not with the revised script as Dallas Jones had promised. From his Ottawa office, on 29 December 1943, the producer wrote to the proprietor of the Lantzville Hotel confirming the arrival of the crew and their equipment on Tuesday, 4 January 1944; then, finally, on 3 January 1944, the producer wrote once again to Plenderleith to explain a further delay. Our script has undergone further changes since I last talked to you, these at the suggestion of the Government Film Commissioner. The changes were suggested only a few hours before the unit was ready to entrain here for the West, so the unit will not have a complete revised script with them....Hence, the unit will be shooting background and incidental material only until I arrive with the new script on January 15.38 The script had been temporarily derailed by John Grierson. Now, the fable of 'Smoky Lane' would be altered once again, this time to suit the educational purposes of a Scotsman who claimed to know more about propaganda than anybody alive, outside of Joseph Goebbels. 3 9 86. I have believed that in education was the heart of the matter, but that education needed to be revolutionized altogether if it was to become the instrument of revolutionized democracy I was thinking of...I have had to pretend to a whole lot of powers I didn't have in running my education revolution.40 When at last Production #6043 emerged from Grierson's Ottawa office, "Kindling New Fires in Smoky Lane," had been refashioned into Lessons in Living, a cinematic allegory for building the progressive democratic state through education. The difference between the script for "Rural Youth" and its Griersonian revision, lies in the insertion of an outside educational expert (Dr. Plenderleith) to initiate and direct the reform project. The original script, in which reforms originated within the classroom itself, contradicted the role of the community in the Grierson template of progressive democracy. As Dallas Jones wrote to Plenderleith: Much of the initiative still has the children as its source, but there is now a great deal more of the organization from the responsible officials in the district throughout the community's improvement. There is a stronger feeling of responsibility toward the . provincial school authorities, and the provincial representatives now become a major part of the dynamics of the improvement. This, of course, means you (Plenderleith), even more than the teachers, the school board and the provincial Department of Education. I hope that you will be able to find time to appear in our film and take deserved credit for the work you have done.41 The role of 'expert' in the Griersonian documentary supplanted that of the Hollywood star. Whether draped in the Voice of God soundtrack or portrayed as a benevolent government official, expert intervention between citizens and the reform of their society was an essential premise of the documentary movement, and thus of early NFB society. In the cooperative democracy that Grierson envisioned, experts administered for the public good and good citizens cooperated. They most certainly did so on film-Grierson saw to it. 87. . * w i f e Thus it is in the film, Lessons in Living, in which a central character named Robert, left to his own devices, carves his initials on his school desk, where his father once carved his. Overhearing the boy being scolded by his teacher for his vandalism, Dr. William Plenderleith, the new school inspector, steps into the classroom and early NFB society: Now boys and girls this is a matter that needs some discussion. Bob has carved his initials right where his father once carved his. After we have discussed it you had better decide whether Bob was right or wrong for you are part of the community that owns and supports the school.42 For his own considerable part of the discussion, Plenderleith lectures the children on the history of the Lantzville school. He tells them that the world around the school has changed, and yet "the school itself has not changed to meet the changed conditions of the modern wor ld . " 4 3 The school should have changed. Instead of spoiling his desk Bob should have been spending his time trying to improve it and the school generally. Really, you're all responsible. You are all part of the community and the community owns the school. If you want a better school, you can have it by making it for yourselves. If you want to carve-and that's not a bad idea Bob-let's work on something useful.44 88. Plenderleith's intervention, as already noted, results in the collective refurbishing of Lantzville school and community. As for Bob, his carving now properly channeled into group objectives, he produces decorative engravings on the school windowboxes and a new 'Lantzville' wooden signboard to mount over the school's main door. Moreover, near the climax of the film, Bob anxiously erases a small smudge of ink from one of the freshly varnished tabletops in the renovated classroom, clearly a student thoroughly rehabilitated by progressive education. Like Dallas Jones, John Grierson, of course, looked favourably upon cooperative, community action in education--but unlike the filmmaker, the film commissioner had perceived the danger to the progressive state if small communities could undertake to change educational conditions independent of their provincial departments of education. By inserting the government agent into the script to initiate and direct the cooperative action, Grierson suppressed the authority of the small community in early NFB society. That was the essential difference between the 'Smoky Lane' story told by Leonard Bercuson and the script that Dallas Jones carried onto the train when at last he embarked for Vancouver Island: the Smoky Lane story had been written by an individual to glorify community self-revival; the script had been fashioned by progressive agents who were wary of the concept. Meanwhile, as the train carrying Dallas Jones and "Lessons in Living" hurried across Canada, Mr. & Mrs. Collette, the proprietors of the Lantzville Hotel, helped the two directors, the cameraman and their assistant to set up a production headquarters in the hotel. 4 5 The Collette's had a daughter, Wilma, and a son, Armand, attending Lantzville School, but neither child can remember the arrival of the filmcrew, nor the arrival of the producer. Along with others of their former schooldays, they first recall the construction of the camera tower across the road from the schoolyard and, secondly, their exuberant efforts to knock down the fence, which had successfully kept "Enid's cows" away from the schoolgrounds for a number of years. 4 6 89. The village of Lantzville had been chosen by Dallas Jones after a tour of inspection with Plenderleith. The NFB producer had originally expected he would "have to superimpose on one village the experiences of two or three," but in Lantzville he found "every development we wanted." 4 7 A "local committee" met with Jones and Plenderleith and a bargain was struck: "in return for the cooperation of the people of the village...! (Jones) agreed to pay for the materials for lining the inside walls (of the Lantzville recreational hall) if they would supply labor and any other necessary materials."48 Our part of the project will cost less than $300. I have already passed to the comptroller the invoice for the lumber-approximately $240--and there may be about $60 to be spent on incidentals before we're through. I believe this is a good bargain for us because the cost of building the complete recreation hall set any place else would have been much larger. Only the splendid cooperation of the Lantzville people has kept it as low as it is. And the people of the community are quite happy about it. In return for a great deal of work, which they are doing gladly, they are having a long cherished community hope fulfilled for them.49 The children of Lantzville school were never told the story line of the film in which they were to act. Although copies of the shooting script were available for the filmcrew the children were left in the dark as to its theme and purpose, as well. This does not appear to have concerned them, nor their parents-whose concerns revolved 90. instead around the fairness of the filmmakers in choosing which children and adults would be in the film. After the novelty had worn off, some domestic irritations arose, such as washing clothes nightly during the six weeks of production, as the children needed to appear fresh each day in the previous day's attire. 5 0 The children were assembled in small groups at various locations in and around the community, including at their desks in the one classroom that had been prepared for both sound and film recording. This room had blankets nailed to its ceiling, from which microphones had been suspended. The children followed orders from one of the directors, whom they believe was Edith Spencer, and learned their lines immediately before each shot. One of the children, now in her early sixties, recalled the experience to be among "the best times of her l i fe." 5 1 As filming took place in one room, schooling took place in the other, although children in the other room could not be certain they wouldn't be seconded for film work in the first--and indeed, they hoped they would. Occasionally, children from nearby Redgap School were brought over for the shooting as well, and occasionally children were shepherded to country lanes at a distance from Lantzville. Scenes were shot over and over. One child recalled (after he had walked down the same section of gravel road a number of times) the cameraman asking whether the boy realized he had wasted about a thousand feet of film, but mostly the children remember the filmmakers as being gentle and patient with them. 5 2 The children remember William Plenderleith better than they remember their own teacher that year-Catherine Mrus-a shadowy figure who stood in the background as shooting proceeded.5 3 Some children thought that the actress who played their teacher in the film, Margot Bate (the daughter of Nanaimo mayor, Mark Bate) was their real teacher; she wasn't, but almost all recalled Inspector Plenderleith: "He was real. He was the boogeyman of teachers, who called him 'doctor.'"54 The schoolboard members were real as well, as were the dozens of parents who volunteered to "put a new ceiling in the hall," or appeared in the school 9 1 . for its 'opening night' or at the town meeting with Dr. Plenderleith, where a few even had speaking parts: Dr. P. - Yes indeed - the fundamentals of learning - reading, writing and arithmetic - are all important. But modern education is more than intellectual development. It's social development, too. We must give our children a background of shared social experience right here in the school. Man - We're doing all right in the village and we didnt learn any more than the school's teaching now. Dr. P. - But you haven't had to understand people and conditions much outside your own neighbourhood. Your children are going out into a world where every man's a neighbor. Woman - But how is this new program to let our children know anything about all that? Dr. P. - By working together they will learn to understand each other. That's the first step. Then the same principles of tolerant understanding will broaden out into the whole world field of human relations.55 The principles of tolerant understanding, like the recreation hall, had actually been in operation in Lantzville for a number of years. What was novel about 'this new program' was that Lantzville children were now doing work in school they usually did at home or around their farm. Most prominently, the children recall painting the school. Once begun, their use of paint became dynamic; each painted object only a stepping stone to all the rest, until at last they had painted the piano. The boys actually did make bookcases for the classroom, and the girls did make curtains. A radio-record player and records were donated to the school; and at the end of the project, the old hardwood desktops were sanded and varnished to make 92. souvenir plates of the shoot ing. 5 6 Six weeks after they had arrived, the NFB filmcrew was gone. According to the script for Lessons in Living, "formal teaching stopped" in Lantzville. School, "in the old sense it would probably never exist again in this r o o m . " 5 7 And for a very br ie f w h i l e , because of the tables, the community followed the script. Regular games nights were held in the classroom and craf ts lessons-- toy-making and basket weaving-were organized; but for the children themselves, soon after the cameras had left, schooling reverted to a traditional pedagogy. Indeed, the Lantzville children reported that they 'loved' their actual 'formal' schooling; they had looked forward to going to school, and felt they were better taught than Lantzville school children today. 5 8 Post-Production and Distribution: Nanaimo to Nova Scotia Ironically, Lessons in Living never played in Lantzville Community Hall during the twelve years it was included in the NFB catalogues (1945-1957) although it was widely circulated throughout rural British Columbia and Canada. 5 9 Instead, the Lantzville children who were in the film attended a 'Hollywood-style' premiere at the Strand Theatre in Nanaimo on 15 November 1944-a city chosen for the initial screening because "The Film Board directors decided that since the setting was in Nanaimo, that Nanaimo citizens should be given 93. the first opportunity to obtain a preview of the f i lm . " 6 0 At the premiere, Dallas Jones spoke briefly to the press: I can honestly say that of all the pictures I have directed, I think that "Lessons in Living" will do more worthwhile and lasting good than any other. It should inspire the parents, teachers and children alike with the dynamics of progressive education and the value of community cooperation especially in rural districts by giving the public a vision of the need and possibilities for community action in connection with educational improvement.61 The children had a somewhat different reaction from the one prescribed by Dallas Jones; recalled one child of his thoughts upon seeing the film: "Godl They've been taking pictures for weeks and that's all there is?" Recalled another child: "All that filming and I wasn't even on i t ! " 6 2 Two days later, Plenderleith was able to show the film at the Island Area Teachers' Convention held at Nanaimo; although he spoke to the convention about consolidation, no record exists of any reaction Plenderleith may have had to the screening. Following its premiere, Lessons in Living was rapidly distributed throughout the country. The content of the film was simply described in the NFB flyers of 1944: How a school project revitalized a community by giving the children a part in community life. The community of Lantzville, B.C. is a cross-section of nationalities and industrial groups-farmers, fishermen, lumbermen and railroad workers, with a down-at-heel spirit and a down-at-heel public school. But school and community changed, and Lessons in Living is the story of their transformation.63 Correspondence related to the film indicates that it drew positive reactions from rural audiences wherever it was shown and-indeed-inspired 'progressive' cooperative action as suggested by the film. For example, Thomas Prine, the projectionist on the Prince George, B.C. Circuit in August 1945, reported that the school at Horse Creek had been "beautified and improved, both inside and out...a direct result of the showing of this f i lm . " 6 4 NFB circuit projectionists reported on other cooperative projects inspired by Lessons in Living throughout 1945 in "A Special Report," a summary questionnaire sent out to projectionists across the nation. A "prorec" was begun at Naramata and Kaleden in the Okanagan, and a community centre was begun at Clearwater, B.C.; a recreation centre was organized at St. Anne, Manitoba and a community hall was redecorated at Niverville, Manitoba. 9 4 . School improvements were made at North River, The Falls, and Collingwood, Ontario, and at Shawville, Quebec as well. A school was repainted at Morewood, Ontario; school grounds were improved at Whycocomagh, N.S.; and almost everywhere that Lessons in Living was combined with the production Hot Lunch at Noon, a hot lunch program resulted for a community school . 6 5 Perhaps an essay written by Betty Boyer, a grade seven student from Miami, Manitoba, best expressed the sentiment that rural audiences took away from the film: "This picture stresses that co-operation is the best means of having a happy and enjoyable community...and I am sure that if this was done in all communities, we would have a happier and better world." 6 6 As to the pedagogical issues raised by the film, reactions were mixed. Representative of a critical response was the report of circuit projectionist V. Poloway of Neepawa, Manitoba, who "made a point of interviewing school teachers, principals, school trustees and in one instance a school inspector in order to get their opinions as to the value of the film." The "general consensus" of the educators, according to Poloway, was that the subject matter was "too far-fetched in spots" and "not altogether practical in a one roomed school." On the other hand some of the ordinary ratepayers, who were living in school districts that have delinquent and incompetent school boards thought the picture was an excellent one for stimulating some action.67 Also on the favourable side, projectionist Poloway noted, "The talk from the school inspector was very inspiring and was the best part of the f i lm." 6 8 Some projectionists took the opportunity of the "Special Report" to compare trends on their circuits with those recorded on the film, such, as projectionist J.C. Peck of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, who reported, "it may be interesting to learn that the types of desks, large tables with the children grouped around it, is giving away to the individual desk in the Higher Schools in Nova Scotia. In several schools here I have seen the table type discarded for the other type, except in the primarary (sic) grades." 6 9 Meanwhile others took the opportunity to extrapolate from the film to their perceptions of curricular trends in general, such as M.J. 95. Krewesky of Circuit 'B' in Manitoba: "It...showed the people the modern trend in education, that is, that education should be practical not only theoretical." 7 0 The final word, in support both of such a trend and the film itself, belonged to Elmer Brownell, the circuit projectionist for Chester Basin, Nova Scotia: We need more films like "Lessons in Living". There is a great lack of education in our country even today and most of it is to be blamed on our schools The seating arrangements often remind me of cow stanchions in a stable. The child is seated behind a desk and must sit there and work from a text book or on a scribbler, and must not say a word. It doesn't seem right to me. I believe, by keeping the subject before the people we can help to create enough interest to have the curriculum changed to train the child to make a living and be happy. I believe this film did much more for the good of the country than any other one film the N.F.B. have yet produced.71 Conclusions: Lessons in Living did do a great deal of good for 'the country'. However, for the community which cooperated in its production, not all of the outcomes were so beneficial. Among these, the reputation of tiny Lantzville was impugned internationally for the good of the progressive democratic state-as noted by a perceptive film evaluator from the Pennsylvania College for Women, who assessed Lessons in Living in 1949 for the Educational Film Library at New York: A school project involves the whole community of Lantzville, British Columbia and gives new life to the community...Children were given incentives which changed them from trouble makers to cooperative citizens...Shows how a community can be rehabilitated through its public school. Rating: Good.72 On the positive side of the balance sheet, Lantzville community gained $240 worth of lumber for its 'splendid cooperation' with the National Film Board of Canada and an (admittedly) splendid film for its historical archives. But as the children of the film observed when interviewed in 1991, some of the aftereffects of the progressive practices promoted by Lessons in Living, particularly the rural-urban cooperation to be achieved through school district consolidation, were suspect in the case of Lantzville. All agreed with Ruth Anderson, who played the role of Cindy: "It was an isolated community, and when it became open to the outside it lost its sense of uniqueness." 7 3 Worse yet in this regard, when the fence came down 96. around Lantzville schoolyard (and 'Enid's cows' gained access to the school) a cinematographic camera was on a tower across the roadway to record the resulting illusion of rural community 'rehabil i tation.' That cinematic record, Lessons in Living, was widely circulated throughout rural British Columbia prior to the 1946 Cameron Report and the subsequent consolidation of B.C. school districts from more than 800 districts to 7 5 . 7 4 Although the film was mastered in 35mm film (and was thus suitable for showing in cinemas) all the prints, with the exception of the Nanaimo Strand Theatre copy, were produced in 16mm film suitable for projectors used on rural c i rcui ts. 7 5 Lessons in Living was thus built almost exclusively for showing in rural communities-a cinematic 'siren's song' to lure unwary B.C. and Canadian communities onto the progressive rocks of consolidation. As rural audiences watched the film, to judge by the 'Special Reports' written by NFB projectionists, they both comprehended and assimilated the main theme of the Lantzville story-that cooperation in educational matters would benefit a community. But they were unaware of vital information that could have tempered the universal appeal of the message. They could not see, for example, that Lessons in Living was merely a fictional screenplay set in Lantzville, nor that its 'lessons' had been scripted for them in large part by agents of 'progressive democracy', such as Grierson, who consciously set in celluloid the appropriate relationship between the state and a rural community's school, and Plenderleith, who viewed cooperation among small communities as a means of diluting the control each held over the education of its chi ldren. 7 6 These things they could not see, in fact, compose the 'unseen significance' of Lessons in Living exposed by its 'deconstruction', that at the root qf the production was a covert aim of the 'progressive' state to consolidate and increase its educational influence over children. It is a goal to keep in sight as the study next turns to the post-war construction of 'NFB kids'. 97. Endnotes 1 "Information Sheet No. 51" issued by the National Film Board of Canada, November, 1944, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 2 Ruth Anderson, Armand Caillet, Yvonne Ruggles, Arnold Tjorhom, and Wilma Tjorhom, private interview with child actors from Lessons in Living (1944) recorded at Lantzville, B.C., November 2, 1991. 3 Donald W. Bidd, ed., The NFB Film Guide: The Productions of the National Film Board of Canada from 1939-1989 (Montreal: The National Film Board of Canada and The National Archives of Canada, 1991), 915-16. 4 Forsyth Hardy, John Grierson: A Documentary Biography (London: Faber & Faber, 1979), p. 96. 5 Gary Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board: The Politics of Wartime Propaganda (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), p. 1. 6 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel # 1 , Production No. 6034, Recorded October 26, 1944. National Film Board Archives, Montreal P.Q., Canada. 7 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel #3, Production No. 6034, Recorded October 26, 1944. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.O., Canada. 8 Progressivism in education is, as George Tomkins observed, "a loosely applied label, a complex reality that has both liberal and conservative dimensions." In British Columbia by the mid-1940s, progressive education had both a classroom component, "the reorganization of the curriculum into a succession of projects of purposeful activity... consistent with the child's interests...in a school environment nearly typical of life itself," and an administrative component, which "sought to centralize education under expert leadership in the interests of social efficiency and social control." See George S. Tomkins, A Common Countenance: Stability and Change in the Canadian Curriculum. (Scarborough: Prentice-Hall Canada, 1986), pp. 189-90. 9 Canada and Newfoundland Education Association. Proceedings of the Twentieth Convention (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1942), p. 5 1 . 10 Ibid., p. 52. 11 Ibid., p. 53. 12 Ibid., p. 57. 13 Indeed, "Kindling New Fires in Smoky Lane" was printed in the appendix of the Proceedings of the Twentieth Convention in conjuction with another article, "The Role of Education in Post-War Reconstruction." 98. 14 Letter, Dallas E. Jones to Dr. William A. Plenderleith, January 3, 1944, Lessons in Living File, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 15 Proceedings of the Twentieth Convention, p. 52. 16 Canada and Newfoundland Education Association. Proceedings of the Nineteenth Convention (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1941), p. 46. 17 Ibid., p. 24. 18 My thanks to Jane Gaskell for directing me towards the connection between the NFB and the delegates at the 1941 CNEA convention at Ottawa. The interest of the educational elite in the films of the nascent NFB may be explored in greater detail in the Proceedings of the Nineteenth Convention of the CNEA. For a succinct description of both the Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford as well as the Nanaimo-Ladysmith consolidation experiments see Jean Mann, "G.M. Weir and H.B. King: Progressive Education or Education for the Progressive State?" in Schooling and Society in Twentieth Century British Columbia, ed. by J. Donald Wilson and David C. Jones (Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1980), p. 108. 19 William A. Plenderleith, "The Peace River Larger Unit of Administration: A report of an experiment in the reorganization and administration of a rural inspectoral unit in British Columbia" (unpublished D.Paed. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1936), p. 5. 20 Ibid., p. 11. For recent insights into the influence of a rural community over its teachers see Paul J. Stortz and J. Donald Wilson, "Education on the Frontier: Schools, Teachers and Community Influence in North Central British Columbia," in Histoire Sociale-Social History. Vol. XXVI, 52, (November 1993), pp. 265-290. For early, but similar, insights into the phenomenon see Bird T. Baldwin, et al. Farm Children: an Investigation of Rural Child Life in Selected Areas of Iowa (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1930). 21 Plenderleith, p. 22. 22 Ml-, P- 22. 23 Unnamed Peace River resident quoted in Plenderleith, p. 65. 24 Ml-, P- 38. 25 ML. P- 24. 26 Ibid., p. 62. 27 Ml-. P- 67. 28 Ml-, P- 80. 29 Ml-, p. 75, Citation from "Public Education in Oklahoma," U.S. Bureau of Publications, 1922, p. 49. 99 . 30 M L , p. 96. 31 Ibid. 32 A.H. Child, "Herbert B. King, Administrative Idealist," cited in Jean Mann "G.M. Weir and H.B. King: Progressive Education or Education for the Progressive State?" in Schooling and Society in 20th Century British Columbia, ed. by J. Donald Wilson and David C. Jones (Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1980), p. 108. It is interesting to note that the British Columbia Teacher's Federation (BCTF), which had favoured consolidation in the Peace River area, became convinced in the Matsqui-Abbotsford campaign that the government was more interested in economy than a better quality of education. See Mann, in Schooling and Society in 20th Century Brit ish Columbia, p. 108. 33 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel #3, Production No. 6034, Recorded October 26, 1944. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 34 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel #3, Production No. 6034, Recorded October 26, 1944. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 35 Letter, Dallas E. Jones to Dr. William A. Plenderleith, December 23, 1943, Lessons in Living File, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 36 Ib id . 37 M l -38 Letter, Dallas E. Jones to Dr. William A. Plenderleith, January 3, 1944, Lessons in Living File, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 39 Evans, John Grierson and the National Film Board, p. 95. 40 John Grierson, quoted in Hardy, John Grierson. p. 126. The best description of John Grierson's ideological development is Ian Aitken, Film and Reform: John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement (London: Routledge, 1990.) 41 Letter, Dallas E. Jones to Dr. William A. Plenderleith, January 3, 1944, Lessons in Living File, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 42 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel # 1 , Production No. 6034, Recorded October 26, 1944. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 43 M L 44 M l . 45 Based upon instructions given by Dallas Jones to Mr. Caillet. Letter, Dallas E. Jones to Mr. Caillet, December 29, 1943, Lessons in Living File, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.O., Canada. 100. 46 Ruth Anderson, Armand Caillet, Yvonne Ruggles, Arnold Tjorhom, and Wilma Tjorhom, private interview with child actors from Lessons in Living (1944) recorded at Lantzville, B.C., November 2, 1991. 47 Letter, Dallas E. Jones to Dr. William A. Plenderleith, January 19, 1944, Lessons in Living File, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 48 Ibid. The 'other necessary materials,' approximately $300 worth, were for paint, varnish, brushes, sandpaper, etc., to paint the school and build library bookcases and tables for the classroom. 49 Ibid. The working budget for Lessons in Living was $11,000. 50 Ruth Anderson, et al. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid. 53 After inspecting Catherine Mrus, Plenderleith wrote in November 1944: "She is obtaining the maximum cooperation from the members of the community in maintaining the high standards set at Lantzville during the past few years." See GR 456, "School Inspectors' Reports, 1940-1946," Box 16: Files 1-3, British Columbia Archives and Records Services, Victoria, B.C. 54 Ruth Anderson, et al. Plenderleith took responsibility for casting the teachers in the film, and he decided to replace the two teachers from Lantzville with Archie Mercer and Margo Fairbairn (nee Margot Bate) both of Brechin School at Nanaimo. 55 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel #2. 56 Ruth Anderson, et al. 57 "Final Commentary for Lessons in Living." Reel #2. 58 Ruth Anderson, et al. from field notes. Lantzville, B.C., November 2, 1991. 59 One Lantzville child first learned of the film's appearance on the rural circuits when her grandmother telephoned from Port Alberni, B.C. to tell her she had just seen the girl "in the movies." Lessons in Living was distributed both nationally and internationally. A projectionist report from Camden Town, Ealing and Acton in Britain recorded a total audience of 291, whose reaction to the film was "V. Good". A mystery related to the film was the lack of knowledge about the production at the lower levels of administration at the Department of Education. Indeed, a July 1944 letter from Dallas Jones, the producer, to Muriel MacKay, a research assistant in the Department of Education, suggests that with the exception of the Deputy Minister and Plenderleith, most of the Department was in the dark about the Lantzville project: 1 0 1 . Regarding your suggestion that the Department of Education knows nothing about the film we prepared in Lantzville, I would like to call your attention to the fact that I consulted Dr. Willis before selecting the Lantzville location and Dr. Plenderleith kept him informed of our progress throughout the location production...Our Distribution Division will be pleased to send you a print [of the film] on loan or to sell you one if you would like to have one of your own. 60 "Nanaimo First To See Film Made In This School District," Nanaimo Daily Free Press. November 13, 1944. 61 Ibid. 62 Ruth Anderson, et al. 63 "Information Sheet No. 51" issued by the National Film Board of Canada, November, 1944, National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 64 Thomas Prine, "Last Month on My Circuit," B.C. circuit report, August, 1945, addressed to Helen Watson, Supervisor of Rural Distribution, National Film Board, Ottawa. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 65 Various respondents, "Special Report on LESSONS IN LIVING," July to August, 1945, circuit reports addressed to Helen Watson, Supervisor of Rural Distribution, National Film Board, Ottawa. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 'Pro-Rec' was a depression-era public programme of physical recreation sponsored by the British Columbia provincial government. The programme continued into the early-1950s. For a well written historical account of the programme see Phyllis Barbara Schrodt, "A History of Pro-Rec: The British Columbia Provincial Recreation Programme^-1934 to 1953," (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Alberta, 1979). 66 Betty Boyer, "Lessons in Living," typed essay by a Grade 7 student from Miami, Manitoba, March, 1945. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.O., Canada. 67 V. Poloway, "Special Report on LESSONS IN LIVING," July, 1945 circuit report addressed to Helen Watson, Supervisor of Rural Distribution, National Film Board, Ottawa. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.O., Canada. 68 Ibid. 69 J.C. Peck, "Special Report on LESSONS IN LIVING," July, 1945 circuit report addressed to Helen Watson, Supervisor of Rural Distribution, National Film Board, Ottawa. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 70 M.J. Krewesky, "Special Report on LESSONS IN LIVING," 1945 circuit report addressed to Helen Watson, Supervisor of Rural Distribution, National Film Board, Ottawa. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.O., Canada. 71 Elmer Browned, "Special Report on LESSONS IN LIVING," 1945 circuit report addressed to Helen Watson, Supervisor of Rural Distribution, National Film Board, Ottawa. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 102. 72 Pennsylvania College for Women, "Lessons in Living," evaluation no. 1949.502 prepared for the Educational Film Library Association, New York, 1949. National Film Board Archives, Montreal, P.Q., Canada. 73 Ruth Anderson, et al. from field notes. The loss of community identity, of course, had been ironically foreshadowed at the 'premiere' of the film, when the NFB decided "that since the setting was in Nanaimo...Nanaimo citizens should be given the first opportunity to obtain a preview of the film." 74 Fifty years following the first mass consolidation of school districts, British Columbia consolidated the remaining 75 districts to 46 in 1996, citing economic reasons. Despite considerable grumbling from some school boards, the public remained apathetic and no political party made school district consolidation an issue during the 1996 provincial election. 75 My thanks to Jan Clemson and Donald Haig of the NFB for pointing this out to me. Dr. Haig was able to discern this information from the header used on a 16mm print of the f i lm. 76 Plenderleith, "The Peace River Larger Unit of Administration," p. 22. A final parallel between the 'NFB community' of Lantzville and the actual educational history of the Vancouver Island community is instructive in regard to the progressive loss of community control over education. The Lantzville children who yearn at the beginning of Lessons in Living for "workshops with lots of tools and kitchens for the girls" the same as "those city kids" who "get everything" did, in fact, after consolidation, acquire these very things in real life. Not in Lantzville, however, but in the city of Nanaimo-a half-hour drive away on the consolidated school bus. 1 0 3 . NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada 1 9 3 9 - 1 9 8 9 Chapter 4 Fields of Vision: Panoramas of Childhood in the Cinematic Society. 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 6 7 I insist that the photograph is a way to perceive things and not the things themselves. Or better, it is something that invites one to see some other thing or some other things. Roberto Fernandez Retamar Cuba: la fotograffa de los afios 60 Writing in the NFB Annual Report for 1946-47, Ross McLean, who replaced John Grierson as Government Film Commissioner, summed up film production at the post-war Film Board: "The films of five years ago mirrored the urgencies of Canada at war. The films of today catch the image of Canada facing up to the riddles of readjustment."1 Considering the 'specular' nature of NFB productions, their reflections of both 'what is' and 'what ought to be', McLean's statement suggests that the NFB mirror was now being adjusted to produce a new image of Canadian society for the post-war period~a contemporary 'likeness' for Canadians to adjust to. Children played a prominent role in this cinematic readjustment of Canadian society. Following World War II, their images were utilized by the NFB to educate Canadians, adults as well as children, about themselves. They projected information about 'what was' and 'what ought to be' in regard to their families, schools, and neighbourhoods, about their safety and health, their work and recreation, and about their opinions, attitudes and social relations. Consequently, as a body of films, the post-war portrayals of children constitute a panoramic record-an unfolding field of visions-of the changing physical, intellectual, and social realities of the peoples of Canada. 104. Moreover, they document "other things," to borrow a concept from the Cuban poet, Roberto Retamar. As NFB filmmakers strove to recreate the 'texture of life' of post-war Canadian society, they filled their productions with popular patterns of 'common sense'--attitudes, beliefs, and other social constructions-which were so ubiquitous that they were at the same time both before and beyond the field of vision of both the filmmakers and their audiences. Conversely, as they strove to be in the vanguard of social change, they selected certain new 'things' to reflect in the mirror, which, at first glance, appear historically obscure, while missing 'other things' of genuine importance to Canadian society at large. These ubiquitous and obscure 'other things' compel a shift in our focus from acknowledged ways of seeing post-war social history and insist that we perceive 'other vistas' by which to interpret the transience of Canadian society after World War II. Fields of vision are the foci of this chapter, the 'things and not the things themselves' visible in a broad survey of NFB portrayals of children produced from 1947-1967. The chapter records the narrative themes of these por t ra i t s , the h is tor ica l contexts in which they were produced, the ostensive purposes for their production, and, perhaps of greatest significance, 'other things'. 105. The chapter begins with the earliest of post-war images of Canadians 'facing up to the riddles of readjustment'-the images of Canadian adults facing up to the birth of their first baby of many to come during the outset of what would come to be known as the 'baby boom'. To help Canadian mothers unravel the puzzles of pregnancy, birth, and infant care at the outset of an 80% rise in fertility rates among Canadian women of the 20-24 age group, a 'NFB baby' was conceived for film as well: 'Leonard', in Mother and Her Child (1947) 2. In Mother and Her Child, a young businessman who is informed by his new wife of her pregnancy wants to drive her to their doctor's office immediately, telling her, "We want you looked after properly from the beginning." At the clinic, the doctor (who smokes in his office) tells Ruth that many women think that they have a cold when they become pregnant: "So many take hot foot baths." Ruth is tested for syphillis, and Paul, her husband is advised that it is his job to keep Ruth happy and cheerful. "My," says Ruth, returning from the blood test, "I'm beginning to feel important." Several months later, Ruth is hospitalized and chloroformed and her baby, Leonard, is delivered, diapered. The balance of the film, Mother and Her Child, contains a great deal of normative information for mother of infants who are under the age of one year, including the advice that good mothers, like Ruth, should allow dad to sleep when the baby cries out at night.3 The same year as Leonard's birth, a 5-year-old by the name of 'Johnny' visits the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) at Toronto in Johnny at the Fair (1947). There, he has a good look at the wonders of the post-war society which await Canadian children like Leonard, as they grow up. Hand-in-hand, through gates festooned with British 'Union Jacks', Johnny and his parents enter the grounds of the CNE. Once inside the ramparts of 'the Ex', however, Johnny strays from his parents' side, lured from their charge by his awe of the exhibits. Although initially alarmed by their son's disappearance ("Where's Johnny?") his parents are not exceedingly anxious. In fact, they are annoyed, and, thereafter, as they proceed through the CNE they keep a sharp eye open for their youngster.4 106. Meanwhile, through Johnny's eyes we witness the 'pagentry of tomorrow' passing us by-especially the 'wonderful* technology of the era, washing machines and other convenience gadgetry. "He's not the first to be baffled by a lady's bonnet," observes the film's narrator, as Johnny quizzically strolls pass a young woman who is attired in the latest fashion and enthusiastic about the latest in kitchenware. The Swedish and French displays at the CNE are featured in the film, followed by displays from 'the two new Dominions of the Commonwealth--India and Pakistan'. Churning up Lake Ontario are the 'Sea Fleas', tiny watercraft whizzing about in group formation. Joe Louis, the American boxer, is present, and he shakes Johnny's little hand, as does the Canadian prime minister, Mackenzie King. Barbara Ann Scott, the Canadian and World Ice Skating Champion, gives Johnny a kiss, and "those screwballs...Olsen and Johnson" appear doing a slapstick routine. Johnny's parents and Johnny eventually meet up at the 'Lost Children Building'. Comments the film's narrator: "His parents haven't taken in half of what they wanted to see." These cinematic images of 'Leonard' and 'Johnny' reflect the immediate post-war readjustment of the NFB mirror in regard to children, an adjustment which maneuvered the 'eyes of Canada' away from community-centered, cooperative narratives, which had been the hallmark of Griersonian portraits of children, and onto individual children, situated within a variety of social contexts. Despite this movement from community to individual, however, most filmmakers continued to produce portrayals of Canadian children who, by their example, would provide a service to real children. Such was the case with the film Out Beyond Town (1948), a fairly typical portrait of a rural Canadian child, which was directed by Evelyn Cherry. In the film, Paul, an 8-year-old boy, slakes his thirst after collecting firewood on his family's farm by drinking water pumped from an unsafe well outside the farmhouse door. Soon afterward, he is sick and in bed, and, following a visit from the doctor, he is wrapped up in a blanket and carried out to the doctor's car. The seriousness of Paul's illness is conveyed 107. by his elder brother, who stands disconsolately by a tree, scratching a branch in the dust as Paul is driven away to the hospital. The following day, the health inspector arrives and notes all the problems with the farm's water supply. Immediately thereafter, Paul's parents and brother and sister commence a huge cleanup of the sanitation problems on their farm. "You know, my husband was really humiliated by the remarks of the sanitary engineer," says Mrs. Wilson (Paul's mother), co-narrator of the film, as she cleans and whitewashes the cellar walls and sprays around the doors and windows with DDT. "My, when I think about how the sanitary conditions used to be around here...Paul's illness was a good lesson for us. Thank God we didn't lose him. We know now what cleanliness really means." Upon his return to the farm, Paul is given a kiss by his sister. He runs with his brother to the family tractor, climbs up into the driver's seat and tugs at the steering wheel. 5 The filmed portrayals of 'Paul', 'Leonard', and 'Johnny' are representative of the first 'Other thing' of significance to become evident within the NFB's post-war portraits of children: the arbitrary gendering of children's roles to feature boys in community narratives. The practice appears to have been an unconscious one~a consistent, yet independent, choice made by both female and male scriptwriters and directors, and especially noticeable during the 1940s and 1950s. A rare exception to this narrative rule was the Sydney Newman film, Inside Newfoundland (1949), in which the occasion of Newfoundland joining confederation was heralded by a girl, Hazel Greeley. Inside Newfoundland was an introduction for both adults and children to the rural culture of Canada's tenth province, as observed through the 'bright eyes' of an 'industrious' 9-year-old, whose Irish-laced accent is so broad as to at first seem incomprehensible, at least to 'west coast ears' in the late-1990s. Hazel leaves church and tags alongside her father to the wharf (she's 'the apple of his eye') ever hopeful he'll promise her five cents. "I'll give you a nickel if I get a salmon," answers her father, and then Hazel runs to school, where she and other children sing "God Save Newfoundland" and answer factual questions about their new 108. country. At the end of the film, Hazel's teacher asks her class, "What can Newfoundland send to Canada?" Hazel answers "FishI" 6 Hazel's portrayal, although not expansive, is significant in other ways. Among these, whereas most of her cinematic counterparts during this era conveyed information directly to adults to be mediated to children, Hazel's image was constructed to speak directly to children, especially at their schools. Furthermore, her portrayal is bold when compared with most other late-1940's NFB portrayals of children. For the most part, cinematic children of this era are passive individuals in the films in which they act. They are taken to a dentist by their mother to prevent them from becoming "dental cripples" in films such as Something to Chew On (1948), or they are part of a team collecting pennies in a classroom project to buy school supplies for children in war devastated Europe in the film Pennies from Canada (1948). or they are cheerful assistants constructing a family rumpus room in Fitness is a Family Affair (1948). With the exception of 'Johnny' at the fair and 'Hazel' inside Newfoundland, however, children in late-1940s NFB films are most often found in 'bit' parts, in a world controlled by the adults around them. Even so, with the exception of children who are portrayed as troubled by physical or mental illness, the vast majority of them are portrayed as being happy. Indeed, among some of the most 'naturalistic' portraits of children of this era, one finds the sentimental images of 'childhood lost' so often associated with the period-such as with the happy campers in Ontario summer camps on Georgian Bay as represented in the film Holiday Island (1948). Produced for National Parks Canada, Holiday Island surveys a Georgian Bay Island for the parents of prospective Canadian and American campers-in particular, Camp Kitikewana 109. near Midland, Ontario, over which both the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes are f lown. The highly structured activities of the young campers compete with the natural beauty of the island for the attention of the movie cameras. Although segregated by sex, all the children at Camp Kitikewana play 'feathered Indian', swim, canoe, and take part in nature studies 'on the Indian trail' under the friendly tutelage of camp counsellors. 7 And whether wearing straw caps, baseball caps with white piping, Mountie-style scout hats or sea cadet caps, every child appears to have an enjoyable time on the holiday island. NFB portrayals of Canadian children were expanding in the late-1940s to include commercial vistas as well as public ones. Typical of this growing commercialization of NFB portraits of Canadian children is the film From Tee to Green (1950), a twelve minute, colour production selling the concept of a golfing vacation in Canada. In the film, a blonde-haired 15-year-old boy hitchhikes solo across Canada to caddy at the country's most prestigious golf courses from Newfoundland to British Columbia. The narrative moves at a hectic pace, especially since the boy visits the provinces out of geographic order. From Saint George's Golf Course in Ontario, where he caddies at the Canadian Open, he hitchhikes to Quebec, where he wears a beret and carries a French-English dictionary. From there he is off to New 110. Brunswick and then to Newfoundland, where he learns that Newfoundlanders speak with an Irish accent (and where he learns the 'hand mashie' shot); and, in the final three minutes of the film, to the Oak Bay Golf Course at Victoria then back to the Rockies, where he watches Bing Crosby play two fairway shots at the Jasper Golf and Country Club. 8 An interesting aspect of the film is that, as with Johnny at the Fair, there is the presumption of the child's safety alone, a confidence or naivete long held in NFB productions. The expansion of the NFB vision into the field of tourism, may have appeared to Ross McLean to be a partial solution to some post-war 'riddles of readjustment' being experienced at the Film Board itself. Soon after the war ended, the NFB suffered large-scale reductions in its size, a steady bleeding of almost 200 personnel over three years. Compounding this malaise, NFB filmmakers were obliged, by 1949, to operate under the scrutiny of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who probed their social and political lives for evidence of communist sympathies, 9 But if tourism seemed an ideologically safe subject for film productions by which to keep his personnel employed, the films in fact brought only further censure of the National Film Board and further criticism of McLean himself. Tourism (never an interest of Grierson's) encroached upon the domain of commercial filmmakers, who lobbied Ottawa vigorously over this intrusion into their livelihoods. Their complaints abounded just as the NFB was being labelled by the Conservative opposition in the Canadian Parliament as a safe haven for communist spies and 'fellow travellers'. Making matters worse, influential newspapers such as the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Cit izen. Le Devoir and the Financial Post were attacking the Film Board for excessive spending. According to Marjory McKay, a senior NFB administrator at the time, "It wasn't a happy place to work now, but if one left for any reason, the obvious conclusion was that one had been fired as a security risk. The employee was damned if he stayed and damned if he lef t . " 1 0 Early in 1950, McLean himself resigned, after it became known that his contract would not be renewed. 1 1 1 . An outsider, W. Arthur Irwin, was appointed to replace McLean as Government Film Commissioner. Irwin's appointment was marked by an immediate respite from external attacks on the NFB. Chief editor of Maclean's magazine for 24 years prior to his NFB position, Irwin had little knowledge of the medium of film, but he possessed exceptional management skills and political savvy. 1 1 Moreover, his association with the Maclean-Hunter group of magazines meant that the Financial Post, a sister publication to Maclean's, would cease its crusade against the NFB since "'one of their own' (was) in place to get to the bottom of the Film Board mess. " 1 2 Of no less importance, Irwin was chosen to head the NFB for his ability to express a cultural vision of Canada at the mid-point of the century. The essence of that vision, that Canada was a young nation, non-threatening and 'born of compromise', was delivered by Irwin in a 1949 speech to an American audience: (Canada) has shown that a nation can be, can achieve independent identity, can capture freedom to live its own unique life under a sovereignty not unlimited but a sovereignty limited by organic association with other nations for a common purpose. 13 Under Irwin's supervision, the cinematic mirror of Canada was readjusted, temporarily at least, to exclude commercial fields of vision and to now include, among other things, images of Canadians facing up to cold war exigencies. As Doug Owram observes in his Born at the Right Time: A History of the Baby-Boom Generation (1996) "the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 made the world a fragile p lace. " 1 4 By the early-1950s, NFB portrayals of children, especially in films intended for children, began reflecting visions of both the opportunities and challenges of a future possessed by the potential for war. Cadet Holiday (1950) was produced by Sydney Newman to attract high school boys into the cadet movement. At the start of the film, a group of boys are shown parading in kilts at 'Springfield High School'. From these recruits, the narrator notes, twenty will be chosen for the Cadet Corps. Even if a boy is overweight, the narrator comments, he might be chosen for the cadets, "for soon he will be in trim." Those who are chosen as cadets are filmed 112. operating a tank turret and gun. As cadets, the narrative claims, boys learn to handle weapons safely. They learn to drive jeeps and trucks-even tanks, as a wild episode with a boy in an out-of-control tank demonstrates. "All is fun and games in Cadets," the narrator comments as the tank is brought to a halt. "Dad is very proud of his boy." The comment is similar to one delivered during the the wartime film, 100.000 Cadets (1940). At the conclusion of that film, however, it is an older brother in battle who is said to be proud of the cadet. Nor does any flag appear at the end of this latter production. 1 5 Peacemaking is the aim of a second, NFB 'cold war' film produced for children that year: Our Town is the World (1950). A nine minute, black and white production produced for the United Nations, a client of the National Film Board since 1946, Our Town is the World begins with an assortment of pre-adolescent children running playfully through a rural town as a male voice announces, "At first the world is our town...on one side of the river 'we', on the other side 'they'." One mother says of the children on the other side of the river: "They are a bunch of no goods." In the next scene, the tidily dressed 'we' children build a fort on one side of the river, while 'they', the far grubbier 'no goods', gather on the opposite bank. Ominous music plays whenever 'they' are on screen. 'We' appear to be the children of a small business class; 'they' appear to be of a poorer working class. Soon, a shouting match erupts between the two groups: "Your father is an iceman....Your father sells rotten meat." As the fight becomes physical, one boy falls off a railway bridge and into the river, unnoticed. 1 6 The fight carries on into the town, where a rock is thrown, breaking a window at the local newspaper office. At that, all of the children, about twenty-five in number, are ordered into the newspaper office by the editor of the local paper. One little boy, named George, explains how the fighting began. After listening respectfully to George and the others, the newspaper editor shows the children a United Nations poster about human rights. "You all have the same rights," he tells them, but suggests (with a Griersonian echo) that instead of working together, they fought, and that consequently the boy who fell off the bridge nearly 113. drowned. Remorseful, the children from both sides of the river volunteer to pool their resources and buy 'Alphie', a $1.29 get-well gift. For his part, the editor vows to write an editorial advocating a new playground for both 'we' and 'they' children. One change that Irwin's commissionership did not bring to the portraits of children by the NFB was the predominance of boys' characters in screenplays about the community. If anything, this trend became more entrenched during the early-1950s, with the exception of documentaries produced for adult audiences, in which children were typically cast as 'extras'. In these documentaries, such as the NFB Eyewitness series which were intended for Odeon theatres, boys and girls appear on the screen more or less equally. Each of the Eyewitness productions contained four, three minute, newsreel-type slices of Canadian life which could be screened before a feature film and which, years later, were occasionally used as television fillers. Vignettes of the Eyewitness series often show children in community situations, supervised by teachers, team coaches, scout, guide or cadet leaders, police officers, doctors, nurses or other adults. Typical of the 'newsreels' that appeared in the series are the following two from Eyewitness #29 (1950): Pied Piper of the 3R's and Church of the Open Road. Pied Piper of the 3R's (1950) was the first NFB production of the decade to portray indigenous children of Canada. In this vignette, which claims to show an 'arctic school at Fort Simpson' in 1949, a white, middle-aged man dressed in a safari suit and wearing a pith helmet, strolls along a dirt road carrying a sign which reads 'School'. This itinerant teacher, whose classroom is a circle drawn in the sand, brings an "exciting introduction to the 3R's," announces the film narrator. "Here, Indian pupils learn reading, hygiene, and organized games...Education comes to the land of the muskeg." Although somewhat bewildered by the presence of the NFB camera, the children are eager to do well. The teacher passes around a word ('Face') on a large flash card for each to say aloud, and then tosses a large rubber ball from the centre of the circle to each of the laughing students. "Shy and retiring by nature," 114. remarks the narrator of Fort Simpson Indians, "they learn initiative and competition." The children, dressed in dusty frocks and ragged pants, range in age from 3- to 14-years-old. The film ends with a closeup of an enthusiastic 11-year-old girl with bright eyes and a cheerful smile, who is identified simply as Florence. 1 7 On the same film, Eyewitness #29. there is a clip about Sunday religious services, a topic rarely found in the NFB archival films containing children. Church of the Open Road (1950) describes a drive-in movie theatre, a growing venue for family entertainment in the early 1950s, at 'Britannia Bay' in Ontario, which was converted Sundays into a drive-in chapel where families "attend church in the privacy of their own ca rs . " 1 8 "Each week the congregation changes," quips the film narrator concerning the Sunday drivers. "The congregation on wheels can worship without leaving their cars." The cameras peer through windshields at families and older couples listening happily to the drive-in speakers hooked inside the passenger windows of their cars. The pastor stands at his microphone on a platform in front of a huge drive-in screen, a stiff breeze whipping his robes. A choir is shown at his left, singing into what looks to be an inadequate microphone for the task. Drivers roll down their windows to add to the collection plate. As the film ends, a young boy is shown holding his head against a drive-in speaker still attached to its post, a smile on his face . 1 9 NFB Children in the Incunabulum of Television The image of the boy with his ear 'glued' to a drive-in speaker in Church of the Open Road is an apt signifier of the second 'other thing' of significance revealed by the post-war portrayals of children by the NFB; ie., the impact of innovations in audio-visual technology, especially television, upon those images. The telecasting of television signals into Canada coincided with Arthur Irwin's appointment at the Film Board and no less directly redefined fields of vision of and for NFB films-especially in relation to Canadian children. Perhaps as Joyce Nelson, a Canadian media anthropologist, has suggested in her The Perfect Machine: TV 115. in the Nuclear Age (1987) the arrival of television redefined much of Canadian culture. Nelson's observation is worth quoting at length: Rapid changes through this century, escalating during World War II and in the postwar period, have altered every aspect of society, particularly those time-honoured social institutions that once provided some form of stability and containment for the individual: church, family, community, meaningful work, pageantry, the arts....The problem is that these social changes have been accompanied by if not instigated through, a tremendous rise in the power and hegemony of the mass media. The spiritual and social vacuum created by the demise of traditional Western institutions has steadily been filled, not by alternative social arrangements or more viable forms of face-to-face rituals, but by the media themselves, which have rushed in to fill the breach. This is especially true of television, which for millions and millions of people is church-family-community-pageantry-the arts all rolled into one.20 Prior to American telecasting into Canada in the early-1950s and telecasts by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) commencing in 1952, post-war audiences for NFB films had actually grown to nine million viewers annually following the war, despite downsizing of rural circuits. Rural audiences flourished as volunteer film councils took over projectionist duties and communities began operating over 230 film libraries, from which films were lent to individuals and hundreds of small groups weekly for entertainment and discussion. 2 1 In addition, theatrical productions such as the Canada Carries On series and (later on) the Eyewitness series were being screened in Odeon theatres in urban and semi-rural areas to an audience of more than two million each month . 2 2 The theatrical audience count seems credible given that this was the golden age of cinema in Canadian society. Odeon audiences garnered during the war, expected, for awhile at least, to see a film from the NFB on the theatre screen before an American feature f i l m . 2 3 While the credibility of the rural figure is less certain, there was clearly a desire in even the most remote of Canadian audience areas for motion picture entertainment, and, prior to the establishment of a CBC television network in Canada, the NFB serviced a broad public interest in newsreels and cultural information from a 'Canadian' perspective. As television signals became available, however, adult audiences dwindled for NFB product ions. 2 4 Television sets were expensive but worth it to Canadian consumers in terms 116. of entertainment, prestige, and sociability. Neighbours would meet to watch television together. People would gather on city sidewalks to watch television images inside storefronts. Indeed, in 1953, so many Canadian men and women regularly stood in front of department store windows and watched the new medium that the Canadian Gallup organization assigned them a separate category in one pol l . 2 5 The eventual impact on NFB film distribution is not difficult to augur. After a rapid rise in telecasts of NFB films from 1950-52, from 1953 onward telecasts of NFB productions declined sharply as a supply of fresh films dried up . 2 6 Non-theatrical distribution continued to be a mainstay, as reported by Gary Evans in his in the National Interest (1991): In rural Canada, audiences in church basements and community halls continued to enjoy programmes on the monthly circuits as they had in the forties....From 1949 until 1954, there appeared to be healthy annual rises of 10 per cent or more in both non-theatrical and theatrical statistics.2 7 But as television broadcasting expanded into rural areas, it was doubtful that the loyalty of even this audience could be maintained, especially since their numbers, according to Evans, were widely believed by NFB insiders to be 'doctored'. 2 8 In truth, with the arrival of television in the 1950s, the audience for the NFB became largely juvenile.2 9 In descending order, nationally everywhere but in Quebec, where Maurice Duplessis ordered a school boy-cott of Film Board productions, NFB audiences were comprised of elementary school children first and foremost, then adult community groups, followed by high school students. Thus portrayals of children blossom in the NFB film archives at the very time that 'baby-boom' children, some 370,000 strong in 1952 alone, according to Owram, were beginning to fill enrolment registers at Canadian public schools.3 0 1950's NFB Films for Canadian School Children If the first wave of the 'baby boom' produced a strain upon Canadian school systems, just the opposite was true for the National Film Board. The arrival of ever increasing numbers of children at elementary schools from 1952 to 1960 reduced the strain on the 117. institution to find an audience to replace the one being lost to television. By 1953, NFB portrayals of children were frequently intended for classroom audiences of Canadian 'baby boomers'. Among the most popular of the films for elementary school children of this, and succeeding eras, were the Ti-Jean series, which were based upon French-Canadian folklore. As late as 1990, the Ti-Jean series held first place for NFB bookings in Canada among the top two hundred non-theatrical films ever produced by the National Film Board. 3 1 The first film of the series, Ti-Jean Goes Lumbering (1953) was the second most popular NFB title of all time according to a 1960 survey of audiences. With a viewing audience of over one million school children, Ti-Jean Goes Lumbering ranked a close second to The Loon's Necklace (1950) and ahead of the RCMP spectacle Musical Ride (1955V. 3 2 In the film (directed by Jean Palardy) a kindly grandfather relates to his grandchildren the fable of a French-Canadian boy, Ti-Jean, who possessed superhuman power. Through cinematic special effects, Palardy's little Quebecois hero outperforms all the other lumberjacks at whose camp he appears. He carries hundreds of logs in the space of minutes; he eats enough for ten men; he beats them all in their bunkhouse games, and finally disappears into the Quebec woods on a huge white horse-a 'what ought to be' fantasy to fire the imagination of Canadian school chi ldren. 3 3 Two other films portraying children of various regions of Canada and released in 1953 likewise proved to be popular fare at Canadian schools: Angotee: Story of an Eskimo Boy (1953) and the Story of Peter and the Potter (1953). The latter film, according to an 1960 audience survey had been viewed by 800,000 Canadians, most of whom were elementary school children. Titled with childlike lettering, the film begins with a 9-year-old boy, Peter, who comes to town alone to choose a birthday card and present for his mother. "It makes you feel grown up to come alone to the city," remarks the male narrator, again an adult 118. oblivious to the possibility of danger in 'the city' to an unsupervised 9-year-old. Peter buys a card for 150 and a bowl for 650, which he breaks in a fall on the way home. This leads to his rescue by a 13-year-old girl, Annika, who wears a maple leaf crown on her head, and who takes him to her parents, the Deichmans, "the famous Nova Scotia potters." 3 4 The Deichmans fashion a superior bowl for Peter's mother, a process that Peter and Annika follow over three days, from the working of raw clay to the final firing. A post-war fashion trend among 'NFB boys' first becomes pronounced in the film, Peter and the Potter-the ubiquitous plaid shirt. In the post-war years, plaid long-sleeved shirts on boys in the winter time and horizontal striped t-shirts in the summer time become one of the most enduring continuities among the NFB depictions of Canadian children. Of appeal to older students and adults, Angotee: Story of an Eskimo Boy was a striking departure from the anthropological gawking evident in earlier films about the Inuit produced by the Film Board. It was an attempt by a director (Douglas Wilson) to structure the childhood and youth of an Inuit boy in a way comprehensible to 1950s audiences. Thus it creates a narrative that, while anthropologically correct in a number of aspects, ultimately leaves a viewer with the impression that the Inuit in the 1950s had become the suburban descendants of the Inuit fashioned on film in the early-1940s by Laura Bolton. The narrative begins in an exceptionally roomy and tidy igloo. There, Angotee is born beneath cariboo skins. A close-up of his mother's hand shows her wedding ring. Angotee's birth is attended by his grandmother, Maunee, who is a cigarette chainsmoker. A teenaged Inuit girl, Ookpik, leaves the igloo just prior to the boy's birth, since "unmarried girls avoid childbirth." Maunee, the grandmother, names the baby, Angotee, who is delivered naked and is immediately cached inside his mother's parka, to be warmed in authentic Inuit fashion against her body. Angotee is likewise carried this way on a trek with his mother to 'Missionary Settlement', where his mother watches a school being built and where, at the 119. Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) store, free food, 'Pablum', is provided for Inuit children. "There was a time," remarks the narrator, "that this was not so."3 5 Back at the igloo, Angotee's mother is shown doing her igloo-cleaning. For the first time, Angotee's father appears in the film. "Always time to play with his son," observes the narrator, who declares Angotee to be "ruler of the household." The HBC pablum is served to the boy, but a shot of traditional Inuit mouth feeding is also shown, as is breast feeding under the mother's parka. Angotee is said to be "very fond of the special food from the store" but "Grandma doesn't think much of the stuff." At seven years old, Angotee is again described as "the ruler of his household" by the film narrator, yet when he knocks over a shelf in the igloo, his mother spanks him. "No, no," says his grand-mother, Maunee. The narrator points out that spanking is a 'white man's habit' picked up from the settlement. "Times and customs have changed but not little boys," says the narrator cheerfully. "His mother knows that he will soon Angotee and Maunee 120. forget his spanking." Angotee's 'bride-to-be', an unnamed 8-year-old Inuit girl, is shown honing her sewing skills and using her teeth to stretch animal hides. The film ends with Angotee marrying her at age 18, in a ceremony performed in Latin at a little, white, Catholic church. All admire his wife's wedding ring in the final scene, suggesting domesticity and suburban values are now the 'what is' on the frozen tundra as well. Some films produced by the NFB took a more eclectic approach to school social studies by integrating topics and finding ways to inspire school teachers to undertake project work and integrate subject areas. Such a film is an early Tom Daly production, Winter in Canada (1953), a film designed to introduce children to the workings of the Canadian post-office, the geography of Canada, and similarities and differences in Canadian regional cultures. In Winter in Canada, a ten-year-old, immigrant boy named Peter, has come to live in Canada (likely from Western Europe) and resides in a small town in the Ontario Laurentians. At the end of his school day, he and his classmates rush to their lockers, put on their winter coats and toques, and head home to play in the snow. Peter pauses twice on his way home, once to watch an early snowmobile, a 'snowplane', tractor across a field, and later to watch boys dressed in Maple Leaf hockey sweaters playing ice-hockey on an outdoor rink. Peter's home, an elegant brownstone, is heated by a coal-fired furnace. Peter uses a fountain pen to write a letter to his pen-pal, Julian, in Cochrane, Alberta. 3 6 The film follows the progress of Peter's letter through the postal system and onto a twin-engined CP propellor driven airplane. The plane flies through a snowstorm and then into open skies, through elliptical time marked by changing aerial shots of the ground below. At his ranch outside of Cochrane, Peter's pen-pal, Julian, an eleven-year-old, is shown on horseback. He feeds hay to the cattle, and fetches milk from the barn for his mother, who is in the kitchen making a blueberry pie. Julian's father brings Peter's letter to Julian from the Cochrane Post Office. In the evening, Julian writes a reply to Peter ("I hope Blacky, our steer, will win a prize at the 1 2 1 . Spring Fair.") His father is shown reading a story to his two daughters, aged four and five. The next day, Julian takes a truck ride with his father to Mt. Norquay Lodge, where he uses a Brownie camera to photograph the Rockies, a snapshot to include in his letter to Peter. As the film ends, Peter is once again shown in his rural, Eastern Canadian home, playing with his Tinker Toys on the living-room carpet, and anticipating the return letter from Julian. The film ends without Julian's letter being delivered~an open ending which allowed teachers to assign a writing project, an informal ending that would be later popularized by the What Do You Think? series. Social studies films comprise the bulk of NFB productions for school children in the early-1950s, but cinematic children of the era mirrored information about health and safety as well. Curiously, only by the ear ly-1950s w e r e NFB f i lms concerning nutrition for children actually being targeted at audiences of children. While films about nutrit ion were plentiful during the war y e a r s - - S t r e n q t h LQ_I T o m o r r o w (1943), What Makes Us Grow? (1943), the Vitamin Films (1943), Children First (1944), and School Lunches (1945)-a significant difference between these and the nutrition films of the next decade was that films of the 1940s, for the most part, explained children's nutritional needs to adults (or to high school students as in the case of What Makes Us Grow?) whereas 1950s nutritional films, 122. such as Food for Freddy (1953), were aimed directly at school children and only indirectly at their parents. Food for Freddy, a colour film, begins on a snowy day, with a class of Grade 4 students preparing to eat lunch in their classroom. One girl wears a sweatshirt with a print of a skiier pressed onto it; another wears a red ribbon in her hair. The children slide their desks together to form lunch tables. One boy, Bobby, drinks pop. "Maybe that's why he hasn't enough energy," remarks the narrator over a shot of a lethargic Bobby. For a class project, the teacher brings caged white rats into the classroom and provides them with different diets. One group of rats drink pop and eat jam sandwiches and cookies. The other group of rats eat cheese and carrot sticks and drink milk. A 'Health-O-Meter' scale is used to weigh the two rat groups. The children use 'growth charts' to compare the changes in the two groups of rats over four weeks . 3 7 After four weeks, the pop and cookie rats have small, "greedy eyes" and scrawny fur. They are badly tempered, and one has died. The cheese and carrot rats, of course, are thriving. They are plump and friendly, with bright eyes and sleek fur. At home, after school, Freddy, who unlike Bobby has a lot of energy, chatters away with his mother in the kitchen, presumably about the classroom experiment. The reason for Freddy's vitality becomes clear as we observe his mother shopping the next day. She pushes both a baby in a carriage and a shopping cart with a huge load of groceries including cheese and vegetables. "She reads labels for grade and weight," the narrator observes with satisfaction. Back at school, with the rat experiment completed, the "Canada Food Rules" are passed out to each child to take home. Some children are shown packing these in cube-shaped lunchboxes for safekeeping. That evening, Freddy's mother fries liver in a flour coating for dinner for her son and her husband. "Even dad agrees that nutrition has an effect on health," announces the narrator in summing up. Ideally, copies of the Canada Food Rules would have been distributed to school children after watching the film, to be put in their lunchboxes, 123. with the intention that the pamphlet and the children's retelling of the film would persuade mothers to shop for healthy food for their children's lunches. Government health and safety films had their greatest impact when they were brought to a school by a medical or public official, who would answer questions after the screening. Undoubtedly, this was the intent with the pedestrian safety film Look Alert: Stay Unhurt (1954), a cinematic lesson delivered to young children by a stern looking policeman. In the film a group of children are playing ball, when one, a boy named Ted, steps out into the roadway without looking. Several cars come to a screeching halt, and an angry driver says: "Kids that jaywalk should be taken to court." Just at that moment a policeman appears at the scene and leads young Ted away, past his friends, one wearing a cub scout uniform, into the police car and down to the police station. Once inside his office, the policeman, laughs to break the tension and gives Ted a special lesson about traffic safety using a scale model city, complete with plastic cars that he keeps on his desk. As he pushes around the plastic cars, the policeman describes traffic safety violations involving children. At this point, the scale model dissolves to the scenarios he is describing. 3 8 One example of what not to do leaves a young boy, who unwisely tried to cross the road on a yellow light, stranded in the middle of the intersection with cars whizzing by him on either side. The policeman says emphatically: "Roads are for cars." In the next scene, two girls of 10 years of age, are playing dressup with dolls in carriages. A carriage belonging to one of the girls is wiped out by a car on the road. "They weren't paying attention," warns Ted's policeman. After the scale model demonstrations, some photographs (not shared with the camera) are shown to Ted of accident victims. "All this pain and tragedy," warns the policeman, "all because children were careless." At the policeman's bidding, Ted writes the '3 Safety Rules' on the police station chalkboard : "1) Don't cross except on a green light; 2) Don't play on the street; 3) Don't cross around parked cars." Ted promises to teach all other children these rules, and he is released from custody. 124. Moppet Models (1953): Adult Visions of earlv-1950s Canadian Childhood Vignettes showing ambitious young Canadians involved in extra-curricular activities were commonly included in the Eyewitness series for Canadian movie-goers. A sampling of some early-1950s Eyewitness titles captures something of their spirit and central themes: High School Glider Pilots (1950), B.C. Develops Schoolboy Rangers (1950), Junior Bengal Lancers (1951), Peterboro Ornamental Swimmers (1951), Grand Champ Junior Farmers (1952) , Traffic Cops in Jumpers and Jeans (1952), Pall Stars Start Young (1953), and Moppet Models (1953). An earmark of each production was the enthusiasm attributed to Canadian children for whatever 'junior' career activity they were involved in-even the youngest children, 'scarcely out of the nursery', in Moppet Models from Eyewitness #52 ( 1 9 5 3 ) . Subtitled "Small Fry Learn to Pose for Pay", the vignette, Moppet Models, explores 'a school for junior models' in Toronto, where 'good grooming and graceful movement is taught* and 'personal poise developed". At this school "for boys and girls as young as three or four' the children learn not to be frightened by lights and cameras and to pose for fashion parades and commercial artists. Although left unstated by the film, there is also a level of precociousness being developed within the toddlers that is novel to previous Film Board portrayals. Scenes of adults rushing youngsters into clothes are followed by a parade of 'moppets' strolling over a fashion runway. "A real contribution to Toronto's fashion industry is made by Toronto's moppet models," remarks the narrator at the end of the f i l m . 3 9 The Eyewitness series was the forerunner to the half hour television newsmagazine series, On the Spot, which was produced from 1953 to 1956 for the CBC by the NFB; Often narrated by Fred Davis, who became a perennial CBC television personality, the On the Spot series was a televised social studies program for adults, which frequently introduced the ethnic cultures of Canada to CBC television viewers. Chinese Canadians (1954) was a typical half-hour segment of the series. Filmed in Vancouver, it contains considerable footage of 125. Chinese-Canadian children of the era and was the first cinematic portrayal of Asian-Canadian children since the wartime depiction, Of Japanese Descent (1945). Davis walks through Vancouver's 'Chinatown' with a noisy hand-held microphone. "There are 40,000 Chinese in Vancouver," his report begins. "Prejudice is on the decline." He dwells for a considerable time at a kindergarten conducted by the 'Good Shepherd Mission' in downtown Vancouver. Chinese children (the vast majority are girls) are filmed listening attentively to a white teacher as she reads a story to them. Older Chinese girls, some dressed in blazers with British Columbia crests on their lapels and some wearing 'saddle-shoes', are also filmed at the mission, listening to the "Call of China" program from the Vancouver radio station, CJOR. A children's choir at the mission sings "Praise Him, all the little children." The conductor of the choir, another white woman, joins with the first white teacher to hand out diplomas to the graduating kindergarten class. Ultimately, the narrative of Chinese Canadians seems to imply that if prejudice against the Chinese community in Vancouver was in decline, it was because Chinese children were making a transition from an ethnic Chinese culture to one incorporating contemporary Western cultural traits and va lues . 4 0 Chinese Canadians was among the first films approved by the newest Government Film Commissioner, Albert Trueman, who succeeded the retiring Irwin. An academic and another newcomer to the film industry, Trueman had previously served as president at the University of New Brunswick. Curiously, the outgoing commissioner, who had taken the helm of the NFB in stormy seas and then sailed it into calmer waters, steered the Film Board into a fresh political gale just before handing the commissionership to Trueman, by originating the screenplay for Farewell Oak Street (1953). The film, which dramatizes the construction of public housing at Regent Park in Toronto, has similarities to an early Griersonian production about housing in the slums of Britain, Housing Problems (1936), but relies on sympathy for the plight of children rather than sympathy for other adults to deliver its message to Canadian adults concerning the need for public expenditure for government subsidized housing. 126. In the film, the squalor of a downtown Toronto tenement is illuminated through the plight of a family of six: a mother and father, a teenage son and pre-teenage daughter, and a boy and girl both of primary school age. The narrator, Lome Greene, is constantly expressing his sincere sympathy with the family's situation: "Keeping clean was an endless and losing battle...the place, not the family was the problem...some of them made the best of a bad lot." Nineteen tenants reside in an old brownstone, sharing one bathroom, and they include an older male child molester, who offers the 12-year-old girl a stick of candy on her way up the stairs to her family's apartment-a filthy, insect-infested flat. Inside the apartment, the family members are surrounded by cracked walls, live beneath bare lightbulbs, and wash with rusty tap water. The four children are compelled to share two single beds. Over shots of industrial development, the narrator laments, "We raise up houses for commerce and machines... There are too many Oak Streets for our rich, resourceful nat ion!" 4 1 A change in mood music announces the change in camera location, which now records the construction of Regent Park: "the nation's first public housingl" Later, the awe-filled tenement family members cautiously wander through their new home. As the mother imagines the curtains she will make for the windows, the father smiles. Just then, the parents are alarmed by the sound of running water. Rushing upstairs, they open a door to the bathroom, where they find their eldest son, grinning sheepishly, preparing to be the first to use the new bathtub--a hopeful ending for a fresh beginning. Although Farewell Oak Street appears to be an exemplary use of the documentary mirror-'what was' and 'what ought to be'- in fact the film was greeted by strong negative reaction from the actual residents of Regent Park, who resented the 'what was' representation of themselves as "slum dwellers'. The member of Parliament for the riding expressed their collective outrage, calling the film offensive to human dignity and demanding its withdrawal from distribution. The new commissioner, Trueman, refused the request. 4 2 127. Early in 1954, however, Trueman began the process of further adjusting the mirror that had been created by Grierson. While in Grierson's mirror, the social held sway over 'what ought to be', for Trueman, "the Film Board's role was not to tell the country what was wrong with i t . " 4 3 Instead, according to Evans in In the National Interest: "Trueman fostered an unwritten policy and priority, the shift from social realism in film to the a n of f i l m . " 4 4 He (Trueman) recalled 'Mulholland (then director of production) and many others were burdened with what seemed... an excess of social conscience, a do-the-people-good-whether-they-like-it-or-not complex.' He felt that the balance between art film and educational film was not being maintained. He encouraged a new niche: more art and less social propaganda. The change occurred gradually, but perceptibly.45 Ironically, the new emphasis on art over education had virtually a crosswise effect on the social content of some films portraying children. Applying the genre techniques of 'Film Noir', for example, on Night Children (1956)--a recruiting film for the Ontario Children's Aid Society-advanced the film as a social critique. Night Children begins with an 8-year-old girl wandering alone along rain-swept city streets late at night. "The face of the city is the face of its people," remarks the narrator with a typical Film Noir intonation. The girl is eyed by one man wearing a beret, smiled at by a friendly old man playing an organ grinder, approached by an drunk man in a business suit and asked her name. A fashionably dressed young woman rescues her from the latter and offers to escort her home to her mother. A moody, musical soundtrack plays out the scene to a dark d isso lve 4 6 In the next scene, a phone call into the Children's Aid Society (CAS) is received by a cigarette smoking, female social worker on night shift. The young CAS worker, puts on her cloth coat and drives to a slum tenement, where she finds the girl sitting next to her schizophrenic mother who is lying on a cot, staring up at the ceiling from which paint is peeling. The girl is apprehended by the worker since, "Mother was withdrawn from life." At other tenements, on other cases (accompanied by the obligatory oblique shadows, extreme close-ups and the eery music of the genre) an impression is given to prospective CAS workers of the type of people they are likely to meet, heroin addicts, alcoholics, the emotionally 128. disturbed, and the place where they are most likely to meet them: in downtown slum tenements. The film has a happy ending when the 'night child' is returned months later to her now recovering mother. The CAS worker returns to her office above the rainswept city street; she lights another cigarette; she inhales deeply, and waits by the phone. Film Noir, popularized in American detective movies such as Naked City (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), and The Big Heat (1953), was the 'film art' likewise used to portray two adolescents in trouble with the law in the film The Suspects (1957), which was part of the made-for-television, Perspectives series. Despite its opening quotation "The police force is the most important and greatest good in society," said to be from Aristotle, the film shows the seamy side of a police station. Much of the acting (overacting) by the male adolescent is done James Dean style. In the film, a 16-year-old girl and her boyfriend are taken into custody on 'suspicion' (of what is not clear) and the girl is 'grilled' by a Detective Brewster who wears a fedora and a trenchcoat. Detective Brewster turns a bright, goose-neck desk lamp onto the face of the frightened girl. A blinking, neon 'cafe' sign can be seen outside the window. Brewster's rapid-fire questions are accompanied by the sound of a metronome in the background. "Your boyfriend's a crook, and he's no good," he shouts at the girk He threatens to book her for prostitution unless she 'stools' on her boyfriend. Ultimately the two young people are released (apparently not guilty of 'suspicion'), and a gentler detective, a mug of hot coffee in his hand, reflects upon the darker side of the business of policing: "Frankly, I don't know if I blame Brewster," he murmurs. 4 7 Conflicts between adolescents and adults in NFB portrayals of children first appear in 1954 in a film entitled Having Your Say (1954) one film of the What Do You Think? series produced mainly for high school audiences. The What Do You Think? films briefly present a conflict situation, then leave the resolution of the conflict to the audience, via a discussion led by a teacher. In Having Your Say, an adult group about to use a meeting room find it in disarray and leap to the conclusion that it was the fault of an adolescent group that shares the 129. use of the room. "Teenagers don't appreciate our help," complains one of the adults, and the adolescents are barred from future use of the place. The adolescents in question, a pleasant group of young people, protest their innocence in the matter and make plans to hold a meeting to discuss their arbitrary treatment by the adults. The question that perplexes them is this: should everyone, even the adults who opposed them, be allowed to speak at the meeting? Ultimately the answer belonged to the high school students watching the f i l m . 4 8 Joe and Roxy (1957) One adolescent concept that many Canadian adults opposed in the 1950s was that of 'going steady'. In 1954, 76% of Canadian adults polled by CIPO-Gallup said that high school students were too young to go steady. 4 9 The NFB film Joe and Roxy (1957) explained the concept to adult audiences and attempted to account for other inter-generational conflicts, as well. In the film, Joe and Roxy (both 17-years-old) are going steady. The two are like big kids playing house. At the start of the film, with an early rock and roll soundtrack playing in the background, Joe is repairing a toaster while Roxy watches him admiringly. "It's a good thing I'm taking commerce at Tech," she says. "I guess I'm just a rattlebrain." After fixing the toaster, Joe, who is torn between becoming an engineer or an auto mechanic, presents Roxy with a steel ring he has made using his father's tools. "See you tomorrow?" he asks. "Natch," says Roxy, who kisses him quickly on his way out the door. On her way to the kitchen, she hums the tune "On Top of Old Smokey". 5 0 Roxy's mother, who is a single parent, is upset by the sight of the ring, even after Roxy has explained the difference between 'going steady' and 'going steadily' to her: Mother: Steady, steadily, I don't see the difference? Roxy: Ohhhmm well, going steadily you can go out with' more than one person if you want to but going steady you can just go out with one.51 Her mother, a single parent and possibly the first divorcee portrayed by the NFB, seeks further information from her daughter about the phrase, 'going steady'. 1 3 0 . Roxy: Oh golly it's not all that complicated; its just going steady. You always have a date when you want one and you know what to expect from the boy so you can relax; so can he. You don't have to put on a big act to impress each other just because you're nervous. You can help each other along.46 Over at Joe's house, the teenaged boy has wandered into the basement of his home to talk to his dad, who is operating a lathe. His father appears irked to have his son lay out his struggle whether to be an engineer or a mechanic while he is working. He begins to dissuade Joe from engineering, citing Joe's lack of commitment, then, with frustration in his voice, he says: "Just do whatever you want." Joe is crestfallen. "Seventeen is a moody time," comments the narrator. "More optimism than doomsaying." Joe and Roxy attend a technical and commercial high school. The narrator observes, "Mostly it gives them a practical education. They learn to do rather than think." Scenes of shop work (all boys) are followed by those from a typing class (all girls). "It's more valuable to be able to print a poem than to write one," the narrator comments. From typing class, the camera cuts to a physical education class, where boys dressed in grey sweatsuits tumble on mats with synchronized precision, followed by an appearance by the cheerleading team. Some think our schools are too materialistic, too frivolous, too superficial. Perhaps. But they fit our world, meet our tastes. The young don't originate, they imitate. And if our grownup world insists that the way to happier living is to possess a pretty pair of legs or to be popular why blame either student or school?52 The cheerleaders perform the 'Team is on the Beam' routine: Are you ready? Ya got a T--E--A-M. That's on the B--E--A--M. Ya got the Team that's on the beam, it's really hep to the jive, so come on Nor-Van, skin them alive. Yeah, Nor-Van. Fight. Fight. Fight.53 The cheerleaders wear very short, pleated, plaid skirt costumes ('skorts'). The cheer is followed by scenes from the sockhop, at which both Joe and Roxy appear. "On Top of Old Smokey" is the 'hit song' of the dance. Over scenes of dancing-shots of boys with Brylcreem hairstyles and girls with bolero skirts and bobby socks and saddle shoes-the 1 3 1 . narrator comments: "The kids, the crowd, the gang, the most important people in the world to themselves." The next day, Sunday, Joe and Roxy snuggle on a couch at her mother's house with a Star Weekly Magazine. The narrator sums up the life philosophy of a teenager circa 1957: They want all to be orderly and precise; they want all to be predictable. Youth wants a role to play in life. Simple problems, simple solutions, simple actions-a little world in which everyone has a definite place. What will happen to them? Probably the same as happens to most of us.54 The importance of being popular among 'the group' becomes a recurring theme in late 1950s NFB portrayals of children, especially among adolescents. The phenomenon (and parental vulnerability to it) was conveniently exploited in 1957 by the Canadian Dental Association, which sponsored the NFB production Putting It Straight (1957), the first dental film to use a female narrator. The narrative concerns "poor Mary", an eleven-year-old girl who is taunted by her peers because of her crooked teeth. Although not unsympathetic to her daughter's tearful alienation, her mother tells her to get used to it, because there is nothing that can be done about teeth like hers. The narrator, however, a fashionably dressed woman who has been following Mary at a distance, knows otherwise, and likewise forsees that "Today it was her looks, but tomorrow it could be her health affected." 5 5 Following an insertion, in which a male narrator provides medical information about the formation of 'mouth deformities', the female narrator, with a bright and even smile, boldly approaches the mother, and, using a photo album to illustrate her narrative, tells the story of another desperate girl with hopelessly crooked teeth-herself, of course. Astonished by the contrast between the photos in the album and the virtually perfect teeth before her, Mary's mother accepts the moral of the story: "Better late than never to have braces inserted." The mise-en-scene dissolves to the near future in which, skipping along with other girls wearing saddle shoes, we now see that Mary has friends~and that her mother has earned the respect of her neighbours. 132. At this juncture, the composition of NFB neighbourhoods is worthy of a comment. As with the depiction of almost every urban and suburban neighbourhood in NFB films portraying children up to 1957, the neighbourhood culture in Putting it Straight is monolithically white, Anglo-Saxon. 5 6 A million and a half immigrants had come to Canada between 1945 and 1957, many of whom were non-English speaking, and although most of them had settled in urban areas of Canada, their children remained essentially invisible in the neighbourhoods created by the NFB. Rural Canada had been depicted as being culturally diverse almost since the inception of the Film Board (Laura Bolton had filmed Iceland on the Prairies early in 1941), but up to 1957, NFB urban and suburban neighbourhoods were depicted to have a uniformly Anglo-Saxon culture. Only after the mid-1950s, and then only occasionally, did the cinematic mirror begin to reflect urban cultural diversity. As the narrator of the film Bar Mitzvah (1957) observes, "Ours is a society transplanted from a hundred different homelands. We are slowly learning to appreciate the differences." 5 7 In contrast to the portrayal of children in Chinese Canadians, in which the differences from 'mainstream' Canadian society are overt, and in which viewer 'appreciation' is constructed from the depiction of the willing cooperation of Chinese-Canadian children to minimize those differences, in Bar Mitzvah. the approach to the portrayal is to represent the differences as being minimal from the outset. Hence the film begins with that most classic of opening scenes among NFB portraits of children--with Canadian school children, including 'Morris Shidowski', running happily out of a Canadian school after dismissal. Dismissed from public school, however, Shidowski heads not for the hockey rink with his friends, but to the 'Ottawa Talmud Torah', a Hebrew school, where he and others learn "lessons that will make them good citizens as well as good Jews." As Morris studies for his Bar Mitzvah, the camera explores the interior of the Hebrew school. D