Vintage British Films Teach Hanky Etiquette

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After World War II came to a close, the British fought a new enemy: the spread of disease. The deadly vector? Sneezing. Actor/director Richard Massingham starred in a series of public information films (PIFs) aimed at teaching the public how to use handkerchiefs. These PIFs were shown on TV during ad breaks, much like American PSAs. Except they were totally bonkers.

Here, I've rounded up some of Massingham's best hanky-related work. Let's start with the last one, which actually uses footage seen in earlier PIFs.

Handkerchief Drill (1949)

What's a poor wife to do, when her husband can't fathom the concept of a handkerchief? Stick around for the end, for a bit of classic British humor.

Coughs and Sneezes (1945)

Sneezes are a real danger. (And the vampire sneeze had apparently not yet been invented.)

Jet Propelled Germs (1948)

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases."

For a bit more on Massingham (including what appears to be a complete filmography), check out How to Be Eccentric, a film program that ran briefly in 2003.

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February 9, 2013 - 9:00am
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