Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films: 1945-1970 Paperback – 7 Oct 1999
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Subjects vary widely and include personal hygiene, dating, atomic bombs, and drug abuse. My favorite are the dating films. Boys wearing patent leather shoes, suits and neckties, looking like tiny Baptist ministers ask out girls wearing saddle shoes, long wool skirts, and fuzzy sweaters over white cotton shirts. Both go somewhere very public and follow many, many rules of etiquette, after which the boy drops the girl off at her front porch and...shakes her hand! They're so stiff and awkward, and hilarious.
The most disturbing one is about the duck-and-cover drills. My dad saw this film in school. You'd have to believe the filmmakers were either totally naive or just distributing government propaganda here. Is there any way the makers of this film really believed that putting a newspaper over your head or ducking under a blanket would really help if an atomic bomb went off in the vicinity? It seems likely the public believed it, which makes this gem all the more surreal- at once hilarious and terrifying.
Note that there are only small black-and-white pictures and lots of text, though the text does a really good job at describing the films. To get the full effect, I recommend the "shorts" dvds that are produced by MST3K or RiffTrax.
- The rise and fall of the 2 biggest educational film studios, Coronet and Centron
- A bio of the largest independent educational producer, Sid Davis
- Mini-summaries of more than 150 films
One highlight comes in the opening "primer", when Smith laments that "neither the public archives nor the private footage libraries seem inclined to release these films for viewing, but perhaps this will change" (remember, this book was written in 1999). And change it has, thanks to video sharing sites like YouTube, Google Video, the Internet Archive, etc...they've given new life to these films and provided them w/a whole new audience!
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