College Professor Talks on Feminine Beauty and Brains-Outtakes (1932)

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Institution: University of South Carolina, Moving Image Research Collection
Collection: Fox Movietone News Collection

Running time: 03m26s
Source film: 35mm; Nitrate; B&W; Negative; 300 feet
Year: 1932
Production: Fox Movietone News
Camera: Jack Painter

For marriage counselor, date palm farmer, and eugenicist Paul Popenoe, the divorce rate in the early 1930s — whatever it may have been — was very likely a ghastly figure. There’s no telling how he would have reacted had he lived in a time where nearly half of all American marriages end in splitsville.

Popenoe had very specific ideas about what made relationships work, and they are laid bare during these outtakes from an unknown news story film produced in the early 1930s. An early marriage is the key goal, according to Popenoe; settling down after you’ve matured physically but before you’ve matured mentally is ideal. Marrying someone like yourself is often successful, unless you’re a hot-head or a redhead (limit one per marriage, please). The professor also notes that good-looking wives are inherently intelligent, wrapping acuity up in his ideal of “real beauty.” This may be the only idea he articulates which approaches progressive, novel, or even rational thought. One out of eight isn’t so bad.

Popenoe is framed by a medium shot for the first two minutes and 16 seconds of the footage, which allows us to see him nervously shifting from side to side. He starts off looking downward as he begins his recitation of odd sentiments, but graduates to looking directly into the camera and into our souls. There’s throat clearing, some lip-licking, and even an abrupt removal of his right hand from his coat pocket. The footage concludes in a close-up shot, but the one constant throughout is Popenoe’s monotone, overly enunciated delivery, which is forever burned in my memory. In all likelihood, he was some dangerous combination of dehydrated and anxious but we need to be forgiving; after all, these are outtakes.


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