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Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945-1970

Smith, Ken

ISBN 10: 0922233217 / ISBN 13: 9780922233212
Published by Blast Books, 1999
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
From Wayward Books (South dartmouth, MA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Signed by the author on the front endpaper. Bookseller Inventory # 013630

Bibliographic Details

Title: Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945-1970

Publisher: Blast Books

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Soft Cover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: No Jacket

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: First Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Between 1945 and 1970, millions of public school students were subjected to hundreds of films designed to keep them on the straight and narrow. These cultural gems "enlightened" the nation's youth about proper dating, good table manners, the evils of dope, and what happens to teens who drive too fast on prom night.
Author Ken Smith embarked on an exhaustive nine-year search for these obscure educational films. The result is this fascinating stroll down memory lane. Smith has gathered titles such as Worth Waiting For, Posture Pals, Last Date, Highways of Agony, and Soapy the Germ Fighter. Included are interviews with writers and directors, detailed descriptions of these unintentionally hilarious films, and commentary on the social engineering behind them.

Review:

In Mental Hygiene, Ken Smith takes a look at the endearingly gooney safety and "social guidance" films produced for classroom use between World War II and the early 1970s. Everything from dating to drugs to auto safety is covered in this lovingly compiled book. Smith even takes the time to discuss the stylistic differences of the various studios and analyze the peculiar obsessions of their auteurs. Though its subjects are bizarre ("Healthy Feet"), corny ("Teen Togs"), and often ineptly made ("Red Nightmare"), Mental Hygiene is no mere excuse to mock these films. Smith is careful to note bursts of good (or at least interesting) filmmaking and makes a convincing case that in their day these classroom movies were considered the new wave of liberal education. The films, catalogued at the end of the book, teeter between unintentionally hilarious ("More Dates for Kay") and just flat-out disturbing ("Boys Beware"). Most take the stance that teens who drive too fast or don't mind their manners deserve their horrific fates. For example, the auto safety films tend toward subtly titled epics like "Mechanized Death" and "Wheels of Tragedy," while the "image building" shorts mercilessly taunt their misfit protagonists. ("It's a little late for tears, isn't it, Barbara?") A thoroughly enjoyable read, Mental Hygiene is both funny and informative, but not so informative that it will put you to sleep in class. --Ali Davis

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