Since the late 1930s, cinematic depictions of schooling have generally affirmed the necessity of school as a social institution and underscored the importance of formalized education for children and youth. Movies ranging from Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) to Dead Poets Society (1989) have represented school as a place of tradition and order, and films such as The Corn Is Green (1945); Blackboard Jungle (1955); Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955); Up the Down Staircase (1967); and Stand and Deliver (1988) have portrayed teachers as heroic figures. It could seem that the film industry has always portrayed schooling in idealistic terms. But that is not the case. This essay examines the familiar cultural genre of films about schooling, but it does so by looking backward before Blackboard Jungle, even before Goodbye, Mr. Chips, to the first four decades of cinema—a period when schooling was rendered not as a necessity, but as a joke.