Here’s one of my favorites, first re-introduced by Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the early 90s. Watch that version – it’s fantastic. What To Do on a Date (1950), produced by the prolific and amazing Chicago-based Coronet Films, is the story of gooney high school guy, Nick, as he learns how to ask class cutie Kay on a date, has a small breakdown realizing he doesn’t actually know, well, what to do, and subsequently is schooled on the safe, group activities that make for an acceptable date in 1950.
- weenie roasts
- square dances
- taffy pulls
- swim meets (wait, what?)
- baseball games
- fixing up the scavenger sale at the community center
I am not making this stuff up, kids.
Nick and Kay do seem to have a good time at the scavenger sale (I cannot say those words without giggling for some reason), and they snack on Cokes and ice cream, while Nick works up the nerve to ask for a second date. He slips in some fun gender role generalizations:
“All thought all girls wanted fellas to take them to fancy places, spend a lot of money.”
“Not this girl,” Kay reassures him.
For that matter, the whole thing firmly reinforces the idea that dates are for the male to initiate and the female to accept, graciously. Girls should be patient and quiet, happy to do low-cost, very public activities, preferable with a group, or at the very least, with another couple. But if producer Coronet is to be trusted, don’t accept too many dates, because then you’ll be Going Steady, and no one wants that. But that’s another entry.