Mental Hygiene: Better Living Through Classroom Films, 1945-1970


After scouring obscure educational films for nine years, the author offers a fascinating stroll down memory lane via the hundreds of films designed to keep public school children on the straight and narrow track between 1945 and 1970. 200 photos.
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After scouring obscure educational films for nine years, the author offers a fascinating stroll down memory lane via the hundreds of films designed to keep public school children on the straight and narrow track between 1945 and 1970. 200 photos.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Wendy Mass
Smith, a social historian who fine-tuned his research skills with knee-slappers like Ken's Guide to the Bible and the Roadside America series, here covers a previously unexplored side of American filmmaking. Combining dialogue, rare photos, and behind-the-scenes gossip, he neatly encapsulates 285 short classics such as Highways of Agony, Narcotics: Pit of Despair, Dating Do's and Don'ts, and Shy Guy. By placing the corny, often grim always low-budget films in their historical context, Smith almost makes us believe they deserve our respect more than our laughter.
Entertainment Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780922233212
  • Publisher: Blast Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 7.05 (w) x 10.01 (h) x 0.69 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2000

    Politics + 16mm Technology + 'Moral Guidance'

    This is a fascinating read! MENTAL HYGEINE looks at the creation and nearly-3-decade-long life of what is called the 'mental hygeine' film. These films were created as a part of a systemic attempt to reign in America's youth in post-World War II times. (The films were most popular from about 1945 to 1970.) Right after World War II, parents were, for the first time in years, able to pay more attention to their children since war did not have the adults' attention. And as far as the adults could tell, America's youth desperately needed guidance. At this same point, the new technology of 16 mm movies had become widely available for the first time. The marriage of these (and some other more minor, but just as interesting) factors led to the heyday of mental hygeine films. They were designed mostly for school kids, and described succinctly (through the modern technology of motion picture and audio) how to behave with regard to such issues as sex, dating, manners, driving, drugs and alcohol, and citizenship. These films were not designed to show how life was, but how life was SUPPOSED to be. They were TRAINING films, based on the values the film producers wanted to impart. MENTAL HYGEINE explains all about how the films first came to be, why they were so popular, who was making them and why, and why the films were finally abandoned by American educators. Although these movies are a hoot to watch nowadays, the real story and the stuff that makes them a highly interesting part of our culture's past is well-told between the pages of this very readable and enjoyable book.

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