July 27, 2012
Lost and Found Films: ‘Play Fair, 1950’
Welcome back to 1950 for an installment of Lost and Found Films, old footage promoting a play festival that aims for a Norman Rockwell feel, with maybe a little Twain thrown in.
Lost and Found Films is an occasional UW Today series where readers help identify historic bits of film unearthed from the UW Audio Visual Materials Library provided by film archivist Hannah Palin. They range from shadowy black and white snippets to thoughtfully produced color home-movie style productions like this one.
This week’s offering, “Play Fair, Creative Dramatics, 1950,” a silent color 16 mm film about three minutes long, advertises a “Festival of Creative Plays” with a scene of children peering through holes in a picket fence at the wonders beyond.
It starts with a young boy walking along the top of a fence painted with the words “Play Fair,” then falling to the ground. We see the fence is painted with the words “Festival of Creative Plays” and “Take a peek 1 cent.” Children peer through holes in the fence, and one enterprising boy drills new holes for viewing and collects pennies from others.
Another boy comes along and beckons the rest, who all run off except the boy with the drill. He paints over his invitation to peek and stomps off, dramatically frustrated by the loss of his business.
We then see what one assumes to be the play fair itself — folks seated in the grass and a man conducting an orchestra. Several people stand and make speeches to the gathered crowd, and a girl presents a large book to a gentleman. The last moments are fun, as a young girl walks idly swinging a stick while a man speaks importantly from the dais.
This is one of hundreds of reels of film from the 1930s through the 1970s — from research projects, campus events and even original campus productions — that Palin is looking to learn more about.
Here, Palin is looking for any information on that 1950 play fair, and wonders if it was put on by the Creative Dramatics and Child Drama program at the UW School of Drama. Also, does anyone recognize those people giving speeches?
So this is your cue: If you know anything about these scenes, get in character and speak your lines in the comments field below.