Highlights of health class

I grew up watching the movies of Sid Davis, master of the social-hygiene film. From the New York Times obituary:

His best-known titles, familiar to legions of baby boomers, include “The Terrible Truth” (about marijuana); “Name Unknown” (juvenile delinquency); “Why Take Chances?” (flying kites in rainstorms and other heedless acts); “Girls Beware” (sex) and “Seduction of the Innocent” (marijuana, barbiturates and general depravity).

. . . The Sid Davis universe is fraught with peril. Every transgression — a swig from a bottle, a drag on a cigarette — leads to swift and certain doom, usually in under a half-hour. Among the series of unfortunate events to which Mr. Davis’s young protagonists fall victim are these: abduction, murder, rape, stabbing, robbery at gunpoint, falling off a cliff, suffocating in an abandoned refrigerator, being burned to a crisp, being stuffed into the trunk of a car, being run over, pregnancy, venereal disease, unemployment, time in pool halls, time in prison, myriad auto accidents, heroin addiction (a direct result of smoking marijuana), prostitution (ditto) and bad hair (ditto).

Elena Silva of The Quick and the Ed recalls a classic.

Boys Beware about a boy who “trusts a stranger who is ‘sick’ (‘you see he was a homosexual’ and ‘one never knows when a homosexual is about — he may appear normal’).”

In ninth-grade “health” class, we learned that a nice girl should never date a rich boy with a red car, lest she contract VD and be driven to the brink of suicide.

Ken Smith’s Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films, 1945-1970 has more.

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  1. You mean those films weren’t comedies?

  2. Ah yes, we saw those films in school — then, when we were in grade school, we did the whole duck and cover thing, had a fallout shelter too.

    Ah, the early 60s!