SEX DO’s & DON’Ts
SEX DO’s & DON’TS (50s Teens Learn How To Survive Sex & Puberty)-Alpha Video Color/B&W 110 minutes’ total. (1947-1961) $ 7.98 DVD available at http://www.oldies.com/product-view/7746D.html
For those of a “certain age” (i.e. -yes we are older now), there would come a time in school when the teacher would pull out the film strip projector, or, even better, the A.V. kid would roll in the 16mm projector. A break from the routine in the learning day. However, sometimes, the classes would be divided into girls one room and boys into another. Time for the dreaded “sex end “film!
Well, perhaps not dreaded. At least for the boys, there would be a lot of whoops and smutty (at least in our minds) comments, the gym teacher who would be forced to
supervise us would say “Shut your mouths and pay attention or I promise you a year of detention!!”
The films would tell us in the driest and clinical terms about how our bodies were changing, sometimes with hair growing in places via animated figures that would look like a naughty werewolf transformation.
The films most often would be warnings. Warning on how to act. How to date. Don’t talk to strangers (before the era of “stranger danger”). Usually the acting, if any, was of the level of a high school play. The somberness made the films seem even longer than their short running times, but eventually, the lights would go on and the coach would bark “Any questions?”, grateful that we did not have any.
Nowadays, these films are a look back at over earnest if often inept attempts to keep us on the straight and narrow. Nowadays we can watch these films as time capsules of the eras in which they were made. Plus, we can laugh and make comments without the coach threatening to ruin our afternoons until summer vacation. At least, I hope not.
Now, ALPHA VIDEO has gathered a collection of sex ed films (that actually were released from 1947 to 1961) that you can watch and enjoy with friends or by yourself (and yes, sexual innuendo intended!).
First up, McGraw Hill shows us “Human Reproduction” (1947). This b&w educational film shows us a rather staid stiff family. John & Mary Burke are two people who seem like they are the template for every 50s sitcom mom and dad- clean cut and hardly responsive to each other. When Johnny Burke Jr asks dad where do babies come from, dad says from women “From the grace of heaven.”
While little Johnny accepts this little religious pass the buck, dad furrows his brow and thinks of the boy will want more details.
We then get some very limited animation and plaster replicas of the human bod and reproductive system. Hard to believe that this caused a controversy about sex education in the schools, but this was also the era when people were still going to segregated (men and women) screenings of Kroger Babb’s MOM & DAD (1945). Then again, history is repeating itself currently with schools’ teaching abstinence only.
Next it’s “Dating Do’s and Don’ts” (1949) Coronet Films -This Kodachrome color film (the only color film in the set) is great camp fun just begging for MST3K to spoof it. As it is, it is so earnest and poorly acted that it is humorous on its own. Woody gets a ticket that admits two to a carnival, which means he needs a date!! He wants to take out Ann, whom we are assured,” knows how to have a good time” (oh dear.). The proper etiquette techniques are shown and discussed. It ends with Ann saying “Thanks so much. I had LOADS of fun.” Did we miss a scene with good time Ann?
We follow this with “Don’t talk To Strangers” (1950). Studio unknown, though I suspect this is a Sid Davis film. Davis seemed fixated about stranger danger films, ever since his first film, ‘The Dangerous Stranger” (1949, not on this disc). It is said John Wayne was convinced to give Davis the money for ‘Dangerous Stranger”, starting Sid Davis’ film career. A nervous man is looking for his next victim. One young girl escapes his clutches and writes down the license plate of the man’s car. The child’s mom, however does nothing (way to go, mom. Is this an everyday occurrence for your kid, lady?) so the man lures another child into his car. These films all seem to have characters who should just have signs saying Creep on them, though now we know a lot of these predators are not so obvious. The film is still disturbing.
“How to Say No Moral Maturity “(1951) Coronet Films “How can you say no and still keep your friends?” On a stage, a spotlight focuses on Bill, who leads us in possible socially awkward situations such as drinking and “petting”, and how to deal with them. In short,” Just Say No”, and to avoid smoking, share gossip (watch the short and see).
‘Beginning to Date” (1953) Coronet. A how to on teen dating. Our young hero shows what we need to know on planning a date, asking her out, how to talk with the girl’s parents, and how to properly say good night.
“Your Body During Adolescence” (1955) McGraw Hill The changes that happen to your body due to seven glands. This is one of those films that used near stick figure drawings and talked about hair growing and breasts enlarging that caused all the teenage giggles, often trying to show we were cool but also nervous covering because some of these things had yet to happen to us, except perhaps the cracking voices. This film, missing sprockets and frames, was still being shown in schools in the 1970s.
“How Much Affection?” (1958) McGraw Hill Some pretty old looking teenagers deal with heavy petting, and not going “too far”. Mary’s mom in this is pretty understanding, unusual for a 1950s piece. The feelings between Mary & Jeff almost went too far. Of course, we have Ilene, the over bleached blonde girl who allowed the boyfriend to go too far, and now she is unhappy with her life, due to caring for a baby and a husband who is miserable. “I sure miss the gang and all the fun we used to have in school”.
Finally,” Boys Beware” (1961, Sid Davis Productions,10 minutes) is a film that portrays sex offenders who go after young boys as ‘Homo-Sexual’, as the Jack Webb want to be detective narrator informs us. They imply that all ‘homo-sexual’ (as the spokesperson pronounces it) are sick individuals who cannot help themselves. One of the individuals looks like John Waters, who probably watched these films and chortled delighted to himself. One young boy, Jimmy, tells his parents of his older friend who took him to a hotel, and the individual is arrested. The boy is ‘let off with a warning’ (way to blame the victim mentality.). Some of the predators in this are hinted to not only molest young boys but even to murder them. In 1973, this low budget educational was remade in color. This terrible disinformation was to shock one ‘straight’, no doubt. There have been several spoof films of this movie that have been made, including “Beware of The Homosexuals” (not on this disc). Sadly, according to the American Psychiatric Association, until 1974 homosexuality was a mental illness. Sid Davis Productions made a companion film called “Girls Beware” (1961) that warned girls about the dangers of babysitting, rides with strangers and dating older men. No mention made of ‘les-beans’ being a danger to them.” Girls Beware” is also sadly not on this disc.
Need anyone feel that these kids today are much more knowledgeable about sex today, in a 2012 L.A. Times article, one in 3 teenagers didn’t have a clue that they could get pregnant ( ‘Sex Can Cause Pregnancy ‘ http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2012/01/nearly-1-in-3-pregnant-teens-had-no-clue-they-could-get-pregnant.html ) They may be more active sexually, but it does not make them anymore informed than we were .
Whip this out for your date to ‘impress’ them (sexual entendre also intended) or for a bunch of your friends to do your own little commentary tracks. I hope that ALPHA VIDEOS continue to release these sexual history gems.
-Kevin G Shinnick