Fantastic film educating Americans on the bizarre customs, etiquette and traditions of the British! c. 1974
More advice for Americans intending to do business in Britain - the camera takes the place of an American visitor to a British business and narrator gives tips on how to behave.
Secretary looks up from her desk and says: "Good morning, can I help you?" Narrator advises to make sure that the name and position of the person being visited is known and correct "people are very sensitive about their position and title." Our American visitor takes a seat in a waiting room. Vinyl sofas and a coffee table stacked with magazines and newspapers are seen. Another secretary approaches and apologises for keeping the visitor waiting. Advice is given on how to behave with the secretary - open doors for her etc. but don't be too friendly "The chances are that she'll be married - perhaps to the boss!" Camera follows secretary into the lift. C/U of her pushing the lift buttons. "A personal secretary in Britain has more responsibilities than in other countries" C/U of name plate on the door.
We move into the office and the visitor is advised to watch the hand of the person he is meeting - if it is offered he should shake it. "Sit when he asks you to, not before." Don't smoke unless he asks you to or you are "desperate for one." The business man offers the visitor a cigarette. Only use first names if the man you are visiting does - the use of last names is customary. "Avoid the over hearty hail fellow well met approach." It can be misunderstood. British always try to remain polite through discussions but visitor is advised "do not be deceived, underneath there is still something of the Bulldog in most of them." C/U of the business man as he listens to our visitor - he looks interested, bored, wipes his nose and clasps his hands.
Narrator discusses the differences between Northern and Southern business men. He also states that it is difficult to judge what class a business man is these days. Class is discussed. A male junior member of staff comes into the office to hand the boss a document. Clothing styles are discussed - they now reflect age rather than class.
Narrator states: "While social barriers are still visible, they can be leaped by those agile enough." Business cards should be exchanged at the end of a meeting. Visitor is advised to make sure his host knows how to pronounce his name. "People in Britain like to think that their word is their bond." The American is advised to make certain that when an British man says yes, he really means yes he agrees, and not just yes he understands. C/U of business man saying "yes" and smiling.
"The British think themselves upright and honest so the giving of gifts must be tactfully done." C/U of the secretary smiling. C/U of typists hands at work. Various shots of young secretary putting paper into the typewriter. Advice is now given on how to write a business letter. The etiquette various terms of address (eg if you are writing to Earls, Lords, etc.) A joke is made about how even the Brits aren't sure how to address royalty.
Pronunciation of names is discussed. The following words are used as examples of words pronounced differently in Britain and America: Berkeley, Grosvenor, Leicester, Gloucester, Worcester, Salisbury. "If in doubt - ask, they like to help." Shot of policemen giving directions "they really are helpful."
Shot of Hyde (?) Park. Narrator discusses the area of hospitality. "The Working Breakfast has not swept the country" he states. Shots of business men having a meal together in a restaurant. C/U of a wine glass. Drinks should be offered before, during and after a meal but the American visitor shouldn't be surprised if only one is accepted. Animated sequence of various types of glasses. Drinking etiquette is explained. Many will only have a sherry before a meal and a glass of wine with the meal. It is acceptable to discuss business over lunch.
C/U of a knife and fork - the knife presses peas against the fork. The way the British use their cutlery is discussed! M/S of man eating a plate of food in a restaurant. Still photographs of "gentlemen's clubs." - the strange rules of these clubs concerning tipping, buying things, smoking and carrying papers are explained.
Various shots of the bright neon lights of Soho. "The cocktail hour is little used..." C/U of neon sign for "Jules Bar" and C/U of hands shaking cocktail shaker. Montage sequence showing people arriving at the theatre, cocktail being poured, drinks being mixed, a couple sitting in a cocktail bar. "Extroversion is considered embarrassing... take your cue from your host or guest".
The rules for dressing when visiting a business man in his home are discussed. Shots of man and wife entertaining in their home. The Tuxedo is discussed "Not everybody considers white ones to be acceptable." We see the guests having their meal at a table with a candlestick at the centre - it is quite formal. Narrator observes that the ladies may leave the men to drink and smoke at the end of the meal. Camera pans around the dinner table. The American guest should leave before midnight - "the British are inclined to go to bed early." Next day a thank you letter and flowers should be sent.
British institutions are described and illustrated. Short shot of a bowls match. The British pub. - good shots of public and private bars, tills being opened, beer being ordered, pints being drunk, cigarettes smoked etc. You can talk about anything in a pub - except business. Business men at pubs smoking, drinking and eating sandwiches. Late night drinking clubs are featured - a dubious crowd.
"The queue was invented by the British because it emphasises their sense of fair play" Panning shot of a long queue at a bus stop. "The British are fiercely patriotic and self-opinionated." states our narrator over still of Prince Charles. The British are described as "unflappable" and our sense of humour is discussed - we are prepared to laugh at ourselves. Camera pulls back to reveal that still of Prince Charles is in fact on the front page of the Daily News with the caption: "Where Did You Get That Hat?!" as he is in full regalia.
Sequence using still shots to show the British as enthusiastic gardeners (man tending a window box), DIY enthusiasts (family painting over a patterned wallpaper) and home lovers (lights going out in a suburban home).
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