Mental Hygiene: Better Living Through Classroom Films 1945–70 by Ken Smith
Trade paperback original • 7 x 10″ • 240 pages
Nonfiction, popular culture, film • black-and-white illustrations throughout • $24.95
For generations of American school kids 16mm classroom films served as a break in classroom tedium and a chance for the teacher to sneak a smoke in the hall. But for the quarter century that followed World War II—the years 1945 to 1970—a special kind of classroom film received wide circulation. These were “mental hygiene” films specifically designed to shape the behavior of their young viewers.
With more than 400 photos, interviews with filmmakers, and nearly 300 capsule reviews, Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945 – 1970 is the first book to take an in-depth look at forgotten classics such as “The Last Prom,” “Dating Do’s and Don’ts,” “Lunchroom Manners,” “Duck and Cover,” “Highways of Agony,” and “Girls Beware,” covering a broad swath of everyday social behavior, including table manners, date etiquette, personal hygiene, substance abuse, venereal disease, juvenile delinquency, and the awful things that happen to kids who drive too fast on prom night.
Weenie roasts are swell!
Many films featured in Mental Hygiene can be seen in the Prelinger Archives at the Internet Archive; for example: