Carpenters' Hall

Tête á Tête

A film created and directed by Carpenters' Company member Charles Cook, as seen on PBS television.


About the Film

Tete a Tete is the true, but only recently discovered, story of how the most improbable, but vital, alliance for the American Revolution was created. The film depicts one night in 1775 between Christmas and the new year when the destiny of the new world changed forever. On that night Benjamin Franklin and John Jay met with a French spy, Julien Achard de Bonvouloir, and with the help of Francis Daymon as their interpreter formed the beginning of the French American Alliance. Not only did these secret spy meetings lead to the military victory made possible by the French troops and fleet at Yorktown, but without the early assurance of France's aid, it is now recognized that seven months after these spy meetings most of the delegates meeting in the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia would not have dared to declare independence.

Ben Franklin in 1775 had failed in the most important enterprise of his life-finding a peaceful resolution to the oppression of the American colonies by England. He now had one last chance to make a difference-not in the great arena of world politics but tete a tete. In the movie, Julien Achard de Bonvouloir presents many difficult questions for Franklin, and success seems unlikely. It all comes down to whether Franklin can produce a single compelling reason for Bonvouloir to provide a positive report to King Louis XVI about a French American Alliance. At times, it seems the aging Franklin, with his penchant for wandering into long and seemingly irrelevant stories, will not be able to provide such a motive.

This is a story that reexamines our ideals, providing insights beyond the broad strokes of names, facts, and dates in history books. It is relevant today as we search for a moral compass to guide us in a changing society that needs to remember the struggle through the best and worst of its beginnings.

About the Instructor's Guide

View samples from the Instructor's Guide

For educational presentation purposes, the movie has been divided into four parts of approximately twenty-five minutes each. These parts are also divided into segments, allowing the instructor to stop at specific blackouts if desired to discuss particular points. The running time of the film and the scene is shown in the left margin to assist the instructor in identifying these scenes if stopping the tape is desired.

Before each sequence, and sometimes before each scene, the instructor is given a description of what is taking place as well as some suggestions for the students to be listening or watching for as the film proceeds. The instructor may wish to give all these in advance, perhaps as a photocopy (See "Suggestions for the Student") or the instructor may want to pause the tape at various times and give the information or suggestions then. Also, any of the suggestions for the students can be turned into discussion or homework topics in addition to the ones given under the specific heading Applying Today -- Topics for Discussion or Homework Assignment."

Order the Film and Instructor's Guide

A VHS copy of the 100 minute feature film with the sixty-two page Instructor's Guide can be ordered through Carpenters' Hall for $35.00 plus $4.95 postage and handling.

Send your name and address with $39.95 check made payable to:
Carpenters' Hall
320 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

For more information call 215-925-0167

Carpenters' Hall, 320 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Open free to the public daily, except Mondays (and Tuesdays in Jan. and Feb.), from 10am-4pm

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a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942.
Publishing electronically as On the Internet since July 4, 1995.