16mm Educational Films

A sampling of educational films from the '60's & '70's.

Last night I revisited an old VCR tape that had on it a short compilation of 16mm educational films compiled by Alpha Blue Archives titled Pink Slip. These were films primarily targeted at young women during the 1960′s and ’70′s that required a signed “pink slip” from parents before they could be seen by the kids, due to their “sensitive” subject matter. Topics on this particular collection deal with menstruation, juvenile delinquency, adult predators, therapy, menstruation again (but this time aimed at children with Down syndrome), and teenage runaways.

Menstruation?

Oily hair? Pimples? Sweating?

An illustrave calendar of typical menstrual cycles.

Note how "Aunt Flo" visits for all of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

? Menstruation ?

Kids are interviewed, animation is used, and the narrative is straightforward with no big surprises except for some of the “controversies” that are addressed. “Should you bathe? Or wash your hair during your period? Some people used to think that you shouldn’t.” But don’t worry, it’s now okay to bathe and shower every day. And rest. And eat a balanced diet. Next up: cramps, followed by dubious exercises that will stop, help, or relieve them. Then a tutorial on tampons, along with the suggestion of getting “fresh air and exercise.” It’s all topped off by a “follow your dreams” coda that shows adult women in a variety of different professions.

Smoking... all the cool kids are doing it!

No bra? Superman t-shirt? It all spells trouble.

Juvenile Delinquency

This untitled clip begins when Meg, an innocent kid from the country, visits her cousin Julie in the city. She soon finds her life sucked into a fast descent into delinquency. Julie is obviously trouble, she wears makeup, no bra, smokes cigarettes, and takes Meg out to meet guys at night who hit the hard booze until they get chased by the cops. Day-for-night shots are murky and near-unintelligible and the police raid is deeply unsatisfying (only police lights are used, we don’t even see a cop car)… and although it might seem ridiculous to get into the mise-en-scène instead of the shag carpet, some of the clips coming up are clearly more ambitious.

A bad man is about to take advantage of a babysitter.

Beware of adult predators!

“Growing up and becoming a woman means lots of things.” And one of those things is being aware of sexual abuse by adults. Where the previous clip started out with elements that might have dipped into seriously ominous Last House on the Left-type terrain, but never did, here we go off the deep end. Judy is teenager with a babysitting gig who gets a call from a stranger and takes the job. Being responsible and cautious, she takes down the phone number and address and leaves this information where her mother can see it. But when she meets the guy at the given address, he pulls a bait-and-switch on her, takes her to a seedy apartment were another predator also lies waiting and… next thing we see is her dead body in some dirty alley by cigarette buts and a discarded box for bathroom tissue. Truly horrifying.

The ugly aftermath.

The next girl, Maria, is far luckier. We know she’ll live because she narrates her story of meeting “Larry,” a seemingly friendly adult who buys her clothes and food, picks her up in a nice car, and in general gives her lots of attention and treats her nice. It took Maria “a couple weeks to figure out what he really wanted”: to take naked pictures of her for a dirty magazine he worked for. Thanks to some fancy footwork, Maria escapes and lives to tell her tale.

Larry seems like a nice guy.

The third story involves a girl who gets unwanted attention from her step-father. He takes her on hikes, touches her, kisses her, and she “tried to make him stop.” Unpleasantness abounds, but a talk with the teacher brings clarity.

I want to say: "Next!"

What do you want me to say?

This one’s the clear dud of the whole group. Susan and her doctor debate whether Susan needs a shrink. These two talk and talk and talk, and neither is enjoying the conversation, and who can blame them? Or us, when we skip over this turkey.

Opening shot.

It's a family affair.

And now down to business...

Menstruation for Children with Down syndrome, followed by Insight.

These last two are sociological gems. One for providing earnest and unabashed visual information that doesn’t shy away from the material, and the other for providing far more visual complexities than are usually found in such films (it superimposes images and uses a feverish framing device that emulates a gritty crime thriller). In trying to find more information about them, I found capsule reviews by Lynn Peril that were both spot-on (see below), and she not only reviews Pink Slip, but nine other similar shorts. Given how all of these films were made with young women in mind, I’ll let her cap of the last two shorts for Pink Slip and also urge readers to check out her link for her take on these same shorts, as well as many other fascinating and historical slices of ephemera.

(The second-t0-last-clip) features Jill, who has Downs syndrome. Jill asks Mom, Sis, Dad, and probably wants to ask the dog, too, to tell her about periods. Mom, Sis, and Dad all repeat robotically that “blood from inside a woman’s body comes outside through an opening between her legs every four weeks for three or four days.” Obviously, repetition is key here. But hold on to your hats, folks, as Jill follows Sis into the bathroom to see how she changes her “pad”. Sis pulls down her panties, sits down on the toilet and shows Jill how she removes and disposes of the bloody pad. This is an amazing document. We’re so used to flowery euphemism about menstruation that seeing something real becomes shocking. Think about all those commercials where you’re not really sure what the product is, let alone does. Then compare this clip to the first film on this tape, where relentlessly happy talk about the “wonderfulness of womanhood” prevails. Jill, on the other hand, needs information and Sis provides it, clearly, graphically and more truthfully than anything I’ve ever seen. Wow.

Pink Slip ends with an episode of Insight, one of those shows that I used to flip by on Sunday mornings when hoping to find some cartoons before disappointedly settling on Davey and Goliath. This is a great episode. Sort of a hybrid of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Go Ask Alice, if you can imagine that. Mom and Dad drive to juvenile hall to pick up their 14 year old daughter, who ran away three weeks ago. The best moment comes when blowsy, red-headed Mom loses control, screaming “Slut, slut, slut” at her daughter. “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” she shrieks, turning her daughter’s face towards her. “You go straight to hell,” daughter sensibly replies before Mom smacks her one across the face. Ah, yes, late 60s family discord, I remember it well, albeit from the perspective of a little kid. (A Mystery Date Film Festival, Lynn Peril)

http://www.pinkthink.com/filmfest.html

Dark thoughts on the way to juvy hall.

The bickering never stops.

Animated still that follows the opening credits.

0 Response 16mm Educational Films
Posted By medusamorlock : March 30, 2009 8:31 am

This looks like my kind of stuff! Interesting that the film with the Downs little girl would be more honest than anything *I* ever saw in school. Those weren’t so much to teach you, really, as to get you primed to buy products from Kotex, whose name was all over the little booklets which you got to keep.

I notice the “Insight” episode stars Geraldine Brooks and Lloyd Bochner, two staples of 1960s/1970s TV work. Miss Brooks starred in two incredible “Outer Limits” episodes, the one where Robert Culp is changed into a monster, and the one where William Shatner is an astronaut who also undergoes a transformation when he returns to earth. She was a lovely actress — married to Budd Schulberg — and died in 1977 at the age of 51 from cancer.

And as for the question seemingly posed above — “Menstruation?” “Yes or No?” — put me down for a no! :-)

Neat topic and post!

Posted By medusamorlock : March 30, 2009 8:31 am

This looks like my kind of stuff! Interesting that the film with the Downs little girl would be more honest than anything *I* ever saw in school. Those weren’t so much to teach you, really, as to get you primed to buy products from Kotex, whose name was all over the little booklets which you got to keep.

I notice the “Insight” episode stars Geraldine Brooks and Lloyd Bochner, two staples of 1960s/1970s TV work. Miss Brooks starred in two incredible “Outer Limits” episodes, the one where Robert Culp is changed into a monster, and the one where William Shatner is an astronaut who also undergoes a transformation when he returns to earth. She was a lovely actress — married to Budd Schulberg — and died in 1977 at the age of 51 from cancer.

And as for the question seemingly posed above — “Menstruation?” “Yes or No?” — put me down for a no! :-)

Neat topic and post!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 30, 2009 1:58 pm

I used to love Insight and it’s liver lipped Paulist host!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : March 30, 2009 1:58 pm

I used to love Insight and it’s liver lipped Paulist host!

Posted By keelsetter : March 30, 2009 2:24 pm

Liver, eh? That reminds me: I have a vague memory of an educational film I saw a long time ago that had to do with LSD where the guy talks to his hot dog (and the hot dog had a face). And, speaking of meat products, let’s not forget the Hollymatic Meat Molder – a 30 min. infomercial on the wonders of “modern” meat packaging and presentation. That was the perfect thing to toss on before Bob Balaban’s PARENTS (1989).

Posted By keelsetter : March 30, 2009 2:24 pm

Liver, eh? That reminds me: I have a vague memory of an educational film I saw a long time ago that had to do with LSD where the guy talks to his hot dog (and the hot dog had a face). And, speaking of meat products, let’s not forget the Hollymatic Meat Molder – a 30 min. infomercial on the wonders of “modern” meat packaging and presentation. That was the perfect thing to toss on before Bob Balaban’s PARENTS (1989).

Posted By Stephen : March 31, 2009 4:06 pm

I have a copy of that LSD film with the talking hot dog, it’s on one of Fantomas’s Sex & Drugs DVDs of educational films. It’s a great series, but some of the titles in this article don’t appear in it.

That Hollymatic infomercial reminds me of the educational flick about selecting and preparing meat that features a young(ish) Harvey Korman! I think it’s on the Something Weird DVD of Blood Feast. It’s called Carving Magic (it’s probably on YouTube as well).

Posted By Stephen : March 31, 2009 4:06 pm

I have a copy of that LSD film with the talking hot dog, it’s on one of Fantomas’s Sex & Drugs DVDs of educational films. It’s a great series, but some of the titles in this article don’t appear in it.

That Hollymatic infomercial reminds me of the educational flick about selecting and preparing meat that features a young(ish) Harvey Korman! I think it’s on the Something Weird DVD of Blood Feast. It’s called Carving Magic (it’s probably on YouTube as well).

Posted By Stephen : March 31, 2009 4:09 pm

Carving Magic is probably best viewed over at http://www.archive.org. I guess the connection with Blood Feast, besides the whole raw meat thing, is the fact Korman was in an early Herschell Gordon Lewis film, Living Venus.

Posted By Stephen : March 31, 2009 4:09 pm

Carving Magic is probably best viewed over at http://www.archive.org. I guess the connection with Blood Feast, besides the whole raw meat thing, is the fact Korman was in an early Herschell Gordon Lewis film, Living Venus.

Posted By keelsetter : March 31, 2009 5:42 pm

Thanks for the groovy link! While I realize that “Carving Magic” has a bit more flair, I’m still surprised they didn’t call it “Turkey Trouble.”

Posted By keelsetter : March 31, 2009 5:42 pm

Thanks for the groovy link! While I realize that “Carving Magic” has a bit more flair, I’m still surprised they didn’t call it “Turkey Trouble.”

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