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DVD SAVANT

More Sex & Drugs
&
Social Engineering 201
The Educational Archives

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Exactly two years later, Fantoma has come back with two more volumes of Educational films, sequels to their eye-opening Sex and Drugs and Social Engineering 101 and continuing under the banner of 'The Educational Archives'.

The two new discs (separate purchases) continue the crusade toward enlightenment through scratchy 16mm classroom showings. The first is a compilation of more short subjects about teenage sex and drugs, and the second is called Social Engineering because they try to modify the behavior and attitudes of children.

The key question to ask oneself while watching these programs is, why did they make the film? Every title here is a response to a perceived problem that got enough attention for someone to call for a film to be made. Does the existence of The Innocent Party indicate a mass breakout of VD among teenagers in 1959?

Rather than simply list the contents of the discs, I've made some notes after each title.


More Sex and Drugs
Fantoma
1958-80 / mostly color / 1:33 flat / 19.95
11 educational films
DVD Credits:
Menu and Package Design Derrick Scocchera
DVD Curator Skip Elsheimer
Produced by Ian Hendrie, Derrick Scocchera

The Breakdown

Drugs Are Like That (1979 16 min. Community TV of South Florida) Aimed at tiny kids, this color show tries to explain what addiction and dependency are, and basically does a good job. 'Miss Anita Bryant' is the narrator. Some examples are dumber than others - a baby needing a pacifier isn't exactly an addiction. Makes big use of Lego toy blocks - today the company would sue.

The Innocent Party (1959 17 min. Centron) Three happy-go lucky boys get really lucky after seeing Rio Bravo downtown (dig the lobby displays!). The next week, Billy and Betty go too far in the car, and he discovers a sore 'down there'. A good doctor explains the necessity of dragging Betty in for a physical as well. The real point being made here is not safe sex but total abstinence. Betty looks absolutely miserable after the deed, and shame sets in like the bubonic plague. The Doc scares the hell out of Bill with graphic photos, and starts taking names. Naturally, its some 'downtown girls' who are responsible.

Keep off the Grass (1969 20 min. Sid Davis) A father and son argue and then the son goes out on his own to make up his mind about Pot. A helpful narrator skews everything in favor of the law, cops and apple pie; the producers must have had a laundry list of cop-friendly points to hit. Their argument is rigged. The kid calls a LIFE magazine article 'establishment propaganda', but then every smoker we see is a freakout or a loser. Pot is smeared with links to chromosomal damage (a lie) and organized crime! The film even says that muggers rob people to get money for grass - basically lumping society's shortcomings onto the backs of recreational pot smokers. The real effort here is to get kids to buy into accepted values.

Red Light, Green Light (1969 20 min. Bailey Films) Kids understand why red lights mean danger, and this curious film tries to explain that there are dangerous adults around, that don't have red lights. Confused? In twenty minutes, six or seven kids are beset by sexual molesters, potential kidnappers and god-knows-what, coming at them from all sides. I think this one would backfire ... and make a sensitive kid fearful of the whole world.

Alcohol is Dynamite (1958 10 min., Sid Davis) This B&W saga uses a moralistic argument to explain why kids shouldn't go near liquor. Three boys let school slide to get drunk instead. The inevitable auto wreck (really badly staged) leaves one dead, another a future skid row bum, and the third a teetotler. The filming is incompetent (not like the relatively good Centron pix) and the argument works backwards from the intended moral.

Parent to Child about Sex (1966 30 min. Rex Fleming Films) This serious movie is an attempt to sway parents toward not being so damn stiff-necked and ignorant about sex. Chances are it came up against some rugged opposition because it brings up subjects like masturbation, menstruation and other physical specifics. The speakers are all old doctors but they're progressive in their ideas, making pleas for psychological liberty and against punishing kids for being sexually curious creatures.

Drug Effects (1969 3 min. Lockheed) Inane discussion helper spells out some concepts and gives an exaggerated look at effects of marijuana using Flintstones style animation. Short and painful.

Sally (1979 18 min. Pat Russell) This is the keeper of the whole bunch. It's an independent film about a young teen girl's anxieties, worries and self-esteem problems, using a phenomenally sympathetic actress named Irene Arranga. She's the sad-eyed younger sister who plays with cats but feels guilty being interested in girl-talk about sex. There's a very realistic scene of a teacher unable to keep girls from giggling when discussing sex. Sally and her friend aren't perfect - we see them pull off a fairly harmless phone prank. She does a self-inspection and becomes depressed because other girls are more developed than she - and then falls victim to cruelty in the locker room. Very effective film would surely reach girls in the right way. The disc notes explain that it wasn't shown much because it didn't have the propagandistic base adopted by films made by big companies - that are full of product ads.

Focus on LSD (1971 14 min. American Educational Films) Bubble-Gum music singer Tommy Roe hosts some teen actors trying to act natural with their claims that LSD is good. Their ideas are all shot down by more commonsense points of view, but the film backfires by making drugs seem attractive anyway. Again, the authorities make false claims that LSD causes chromosomal damage.

Girls Beware, 3rd Edition (1980 12 min. Michael Heldman / Sid Davis) A rather stark set of scenarios where several girls make simple mistakes and get trapped by perverts, rapists and killers. Reasonably well acted this time around, and it sticks to the point instead of using droning moral speeches. The notes explain that this revised edition added an illustration of something usually overlooked in these films - child molesters are most often members of one's own family, in this case, a stepfather.

Sudden Birth (1966 22 min., Beverly Hills Police Dept.) Horribly acted and directed, this live birth movie is emotionally moving anyway. A cop uses what he's learned to help deliver a child by the side of the road. It looks as if a mockup back-seat car set was used, and a woman (a cop's wife?) volunteered to give live birth while mostly dressed and wearing tennis shoes. And it looks like a real cop helping the delivery, not a doctor. The real birth is so miraculous that the terrible acting matters not - it's doubly beautiful because the policemen are sincere and helpful instead of negatively associated with crime. Just the same, with the cops taught to keep saying 'stay calm' to hide the fact that they don't know what to do, the film doesn't instill a lot of confidence.



Social Engineering 201
Fantoma
1949-76 / color & b&w / 1:33 flat / 19.95
12 educational films
DVD Credits:
Menu and Package Design Derrick Scocchera
DVD Curator Skip Elsheimer
Produced by Ian Hendrie, Derrick Scocchera

The Breakdown:

Skipper Learns a Lesson (1952 10 min. Encyclopedia Brittanica/Paul Burnford) This fatally dumb movie might please 5 year olds with its dog actors (they aren't bad), but the psychological lesson that intolerance is wrong because it makes you feel bad is pretty weird. I think kids would come away from this one wondering if dogs really discriminate.

What to Do on a Date (1951 10 min. Coronet / David O. Smart) Like a guide to the terminally clueless, this B&W groaner has a fellow learn to take his date to all kinds of sanctioned group activities, after asking her first, of course. Two guys interact but the girls still seem like an alien species. Kind of depressing, seeing those poor 1951 teenagers. Take her to see The Thing from Another World instead, buddy - she'll be in your lap by reel two!

The Self-Image Film (1976 10 min. Sandler Institutional Films) Rowdy, selfish and obnoxiously disruptive kids wear creepy clown makeup in this moralistic little mind-warper, and only realize it when they come face to face with a magic mirror that shows them how they're perceived by others. A sneak, a shy guy, and a jerk learn their lessons - and the movie has the maturity to have one of them continue being a disruptive moron instead of finding happiness by conforming and getting along. Better save this one for the very young and impressionable.

Social Acceptability (1958 18 min., McGraw-Hill) Rather perceptive film acknowledges social pressures and class distinctions among teens. Really good tale of kid who wants to be part of the In crowd, and how horrible it is to be left out. Has the guts to call a poor kid a social climber, and to point a finger at socially fearful parents passing on their insecurities to their kids. Excellent.

Good Health Practices (1953 10 min., Avis) Preachy film must be meant for people living in caves. We learn how to clean ourselves, get rest and sleep, and other no brainer things. For a minute it looks like we're going to get a lesson on how to use the toilet, but we're spared.

Understanding Others (1958 12 min., McGraw Hill / Centron) Schematic but well-staged effort shows a teacher upending expectations about who will get the editorship of the school paper: a popular social type, or an inhibited but talented unpopular loner. Very good. Has the guts to acknowledge that some kids are attractive and others not, and doesn't pretend that kids will accept the teacher's unpopular choice.

Kitty Cleans Up (1949 10 min., Key Productions) This excruciating film uses a cat to teach cleanliness, MOS filming dubs little girl with an adult faking a child's voice; the effect is grating.

The Cautious Twins (1960 6 min., Sheriff's Dept LA) The stuff of nightmares. Perpetually smiling animated brother and sister run into one pervert, kidnapper and potential rapist after another. The rhyming narration and stylized animation puts this one in some alternate terror universe. This is as inappropriate for little kids as Night of the Hunter.

Your Junior High Days (1963 12 min., McGraw Hill / Centron) Fun movie points out fears and adjustment problems of incoming 7th graders. Boys and girls are segregated and lost in a vast campus population; having to be responsible for their own studies and locker combinations. Realistic and grim. Makes the odd observation that by dressing and acting like your peers, you'll be accepted! A rather big-scale production.

Buying Food (1950 11 min., Centron) Big Bore Home Economics film is mostly interesting now for showing what an old-style food market was like. Advice is given to avoid impulse buying, how to distinguish what label information means. My high school sweetheart wasn't in 'advanced' classes and got parked in Home Econ - hope she didn't have to put up with this kind of stuff. This being a Centron film, the organ score over the main title is especially creepy ( Centron director Herk Harvey directed the horror classic Carnival of Souls.)

Each Child is Different (1954 15 min., McGraw Hill) Rather slow and dramatic film reminds teachers that kids have varying backgrounds and need sympathetic handling. One kid has adult responsibilities and is being robbed of her own childhood, another is caught between warring parents, etc. Probably good psychology but appears to be tied into marketing for a scholar's book. Disc notes point out the fact that the only way teachers could react would be to give some kids special handling - in effect showing favoritism.

It Must Be the Neighbors (1966, 13 min., Communicable Disease Center) There must be a lot of disease problems in South Florida, as some cranky neighbors get a lesson in yard cleanup to avoid rats and mosquitos. Interesting that the health department has the time to make house calls with advice like draining puddles - today infrastructures at all levels of government are falling apart and you're lucky if trains aren't being allowed to derail in your back yard. The essential lesson here is that people are No Damn Good.


The packaging design and presentation of both discs is consistent with earlier 'Educational Archives' entries. The 16mm classroom projection experience is recaptured, with an A/V training film used for the menu motif. The transfers of the films are fine, and although a couple of titles are heavily worn, the source quality overall is quite good. An added extra are filmstrips about little kids solving problems with family help.

The problems inherent in this kind of propaganda are served well by these compilations. I remember helping my college friend Clark Dugger with a film he shot and edited to help orientate incoming UCLA Freshmen. It was realistic and sober, and it only got shown once because it made the Freshmen more anxious and worried than they were before seeing it! I guess it just needed a bit more Cology - you know, Sy-Cology.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
More Sex and Drugs rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Good, although the quality of the short subjects ranges from okay to really beat-up
Sound: Good
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: November 25, 2003


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Social Engineering 201 rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Good, although the quality of the short subjects ranges from okay to really beat-up
Sound: Good
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: November 25, 2003





DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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