A Film for the Classroom from Fostoria Glass Company

Monday, July 25, 2022

Classrooms were among the many venues for showing industrial and sponsored films in the middle of the 20th century. Placement in classrooms required some stealth from the sponsors and film companies. These films couldn’t be overtly commercial with pushy sales methods. Instead, they needed to emphasize the educational aspects of their subject while tastefully including their brand. Hagley’s collection includes an excellent and successful production from a company that found its way into the classroom.

Cinecraft Productions produced Crystal Clear in 1946 for the Fostoria Glass Company. The proposal Cinecraft developed for the film makes clear its intent. The proposal, titled “Selling Fostoria with Motion Pictures,” included the following:

"Fostoria glassware is bought and used by homemakers, but, for the most part, it is reasonable to suppose that established homemakers already have the glassware for their homes. Therefore, it is logical to say that probable new homemakers of the immediate future represent one of the most important audiences. Such an audience can be best reached in the home economics classes of high schools and colleges."

The film develops around a narrative focused on two young sisters and their brother. A broken piece of glassware leads to a discussion about glass manufacturing. The film then shifts to scenes inside Fostoria’s glass-making plant in Moundsville, West Virginia. The narration emphasizes the care and expertise required for making glassware while explaining the process in detail. The film concludes with the two sisters purchasing a replacement glass (presumably Fostoria glass) inside a store. The saleswomen explain the intricacies of selection and buying glassware. The film concludes with one of the sisters explaining how to set the table for multiple occasions. 

Watch the film in its entirety here:

Hagley’s Cinecraft archive includes the original version of the film as well as archives related to the film’s production and promotion. The combination of the film and archives makes it a worthy case study in a commercial film that found its way to classrooms across the country. Check out the archival material below:

Production materials (includes project proposal, budget, and original treatment and script) 

Production photographs

Crystal Clear Teacher's Guide

Learn more about the Cinecraft Productions collection at Hagley through the past articles from our Collections and Research News.