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Good Table Manners (1951)

 |  Drama, Fantasy, Short
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Ratings: 4.5/10 from 39 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 1 critic

Chuck, a young loner, is invited by a neighbor to a dinner party, but turns it down. He finds himself visited by "Chuck of the future"--himself at age 21. "Chuck of the future" knows the ... See full summary »


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Chuck, a young loner, is invited by a neighbor to a dinner party, but turns it down. He finds himself visited by "Chuck of the future"--himself at age 21. "Chuck of the future" knows the reason the current Chuck doesn't want to go to the party--he's embarrassed over his poor table manners. "Chuck of the future" decides to give "Chuck of the present" some tips on proper table etiquette. Written by

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Drama | Fantasy | Short





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Overcomplicating and oversimplifying - that's the idea
8 July 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

From the 1940's to the 1970's, a company by the name of Coronet Films was producing a plethora of a instructional videos to be shown in public schools, promoting proper conduct, social behaviors, or basic social guidance for young schoolkids. Some of these topics concerned popularity in schools, dating, and basic elements of respect, whilst others considered the importance of social functions such as being on time and working as a team. One of these countless shorts was Ted Peshak's Good Table Manners, a ten minute short film that examines basic dining etiquette.

We follow a young, sweater-vested boy named Chuck, a loner with some pretty poor table manners that leave his mother and father uncomfortable. When Chuck gets an invite for a dinner party, he immediately turns it down until his future, twenty-one-year-old self pays him a visit to teach him a thing or two about the proper table manners so he can have a good time at the dinner party. Future Chuck runs through all the bases with his former self, showing him proper uses of the three forks, how to appropriately cut food, how to speak respectfully whilst eating, and many other different minute details of eating.

Future Chuck claims that good table manners can lead to a number of things, including your boss promoting you, that dame lusting after you, and more. This is when Good Table Manners really shows its true colors as a 1950's propaganda film, more or less promising these additional benefits to making one small change in your life and ignoring other factors that play in to the aforementioned situations.

Good Table Manners also goes to show how America, as a society, can overcomplicate just about any social convention possible. In one scene, Future Chuck breaks down the uses of the three forks placed in a traditional dining room setting, as well as Present Chuck explaining how to properly sip soup from a spoon. It's one of the many classic short films that makes me happy to see how far we've come from such a plastic society into a more forgivable one.

As a whole, Good Table Manners is flawed but forgivable in its shortcomings. It's not particularly offensive, has some quirky elements to it (IE: mentioning the European method of eating but never really analyzing what that method is), and is charming in its simplicity. At the end of the day, as the short brazenly puts it, that's the idea.

Directed by: Ted Peshak.

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