Going Steady

If you thought Nick had a dilemma in figuring out What To Do on a Date, wait until see you see what poor Jeff and Mary are in for when they discover they’re GOING STEADY!

Going Steady? (1951), with that purposeful question mark in the titles pretends to leave the question open with title and end cards that implore the viewer to “answer the question for yourself,” but the film actually makes it clear that going steady is as enjoyable a practice as studying tax law.

Marie and Jeff find they have “drifted” into going steady, which sends Jeff into an existential funk. “Am I going steady?” he wonders in a classic classroom film voiceover. “What does that mean? How did I get into this anyway?”

For her part, Marie is nervous about what all this going steady might lead to. “What about petting?” she asks a friend. “I’ve heard you can get too deeply involved if you’re going steady.”

The double standard rolls on in as we learn that Jeff is not concerned about petting, and neither are his parents when he confides in them over a checker game. They simply tell him to play the field, that he will go steady with many girls before he ever gets married. This is in contrast to Marie’s mother, when Marie tearfully confides that she’s been *gasp* going steady with Jeff. Mom needs to know, right now,  “Jeff doesn’t think he can take liberties, does he?” Marie’s cute face falls as she learns the truth:  the onus is on her to be aware that sexual urges are to be avoided at all costs. Handsome Jeff should simply have fun while he still can, right, Mom and Dad?

The kids seems to take these mixed  – and, let’s face it, completely unchanged in 2016 -messages to heart when they meet for their next date. Jeff arrives on Friday night for a nice, safe date playing records in Marie’s well-lit living room with her parents nearby, and they tacitly agree to be more casual about their dates in the future. The films ends with both teens seeming relieved that they have successfully avoided their urges for another day. Whew. We were close there.