How to ask for a date (1949) - Brilliant footage with dating advice, from 1949

See, the thing is people watching this today think that this is a glimpse back to the way things were in 1949. But this film wasn't made by Woody's own generation. It was made by his parent's generation, and it is a reflection of a fantasy they put together for the children that they couldn't relate to. Woody's father came of age in the Great Depression, and all he knew was life on the farm. A farm that was little more than a patch of useless dirt and a father before him who couldn't understand why it was impossible to feed his family, and who would cower and then stare off into the distance whenever that new-fangled tractor thing backfired. Woody's father didn't know why his Dad was like that, but he knew not question it or he'd be getting a beating later that evening.

By the time Woody came around in an age of fast cars with V-8 motors, radios with jazz and rock-and-roll, and drive-in movies, Woody's Dad had absolutely no advice for him. The only thing Woody's Dad knew was that a boy should do his chores and then shut up, if you don't then you get the fist, and if you get a girl pregnant then you dang well better be able to put food on the table otherwise you are a useless human being (or so he gathered from his parents screaming arguments late into the night).

This movie is the delusion of the mothers and fathers, and grandmothers and grandfathers, who didn't know what or how to speak to their own children. That's not to say that anyone Woody's own age doesn't look back fondly at this as the way things once were. In the absence of true role-models, they watched movies like this and then acted it out in real life. Maybe it was a dream or a fantasy, or maybe for the first time in generations things were getting back to normal. In the end it didn't matter though. In a couple of years Woody would ship out to the land his grandfather tried so hard to forget, and if he came back he came back just as broken.

Woody's son will try to find his way in an even stranger world. But his Dad, Woody Sr., will come home from the assembly line, and instead of staring a thousand yards into the distance he will stare at a TV across the room, ready to loose his belt on anyone that breaks his trance and brings him crashing back into painful reality.

Woody Jr. eventually has enough of the belt and runs away as far as he can. He runs as far as he can until he reaches the ocean and can't go any further. There, he finds others just like him, other children of the men who returned. They make a new family of themselves and for themselves, full of love and music and LSD and every wonderful feeling that they never knew as children. And they swear that nothing will ever break this spell, and that everyone will be happy forever…

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