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Art Institute Class Film

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Film Identifier: F.2019-08-0002
Run Time
0h 15m 42s
Date Produced
circa 1958
Silent film featuring an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Most of the footage was shot in the 1950s, but it also includes snippets from other films indicating that they were captured in the late 1930s-40s. It is unclear whom the instructor featured here could be, although the film reel bore the subheading "Adrian Art Institute - Class / Ends." 
The film begins with an instructor facing the camera, speaking and gesticulating in front of a chalkboard ("Beginner's Luck" is scrawled across it); a group of women seated at a table on the other side of the room are holding cameras, one of whom seems to be asking for assistance on how to operate it. 

The next sequence features the instructor seemingly embodying the role of a studio photographer, with the classroom now transformed to look like a studio with the appropriate lighting. He demonstrates how to photograph a woman in this context before the camera, the scene slowly taking on a slightly humorous tone as his "subject" seems to flirt with him before heading out. 

The instructor is then shown developing his photographs in a dark room, but apparently, he does not seem to have success and leaves in a huff. A woman walks in, and noses around. She is shocked to discover a color photograph of a topless woman (this is an insert shot).

The film then returns to the women who were initially shown gathered around the table, studying their cameras and their attendant manuals. A man is next to them, with his nose buried in a book on photography, seemingly asleep. 
The instructor is then shown about to lead a class, when the focus shifts to reveal both he and the students observing works of art at the Art Institute. A female student is shown working on her project for a brief moment before the film fades to black, and then switches to what are clearly outtakes from Bailen's earlier film, The Great Depression. There are a few well-known scenes from that work, but this reel ends with a brief glimpse of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, then switches back to Chicago, wherein the plain storefront of "C.B. Waterford Undertaker" can be seen, followed by the funeral of a Mrs. Polk, which took place on February 23rd, 1934. 
Main Credits
Bailen, Maurice (is filmmaker)
Related Place
Chicago (represents)