March 12, 2020  (Web Review)

Mom and Dad

Kino Lorber, 97 min., not rated, Blu-ray: $29.99, Feb 25.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

The maiden volume in Kino Classic’s Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture series, this 1945 classic (banned for 11 years by the New York Censor Board), was one of a number of “sex hygiene” films that straddled the line between delivering important health information and Production Code-end-around exploitation. Directed by William Beaudine and produced by Kroger Babb, Mom and Dad opens with a standard melodramatic narrative in which high schooler Joan (June Carlson) is seduced by Jack (Bob Lowell) and winds up in “trouble” (code word for pregnant). While Joan’s father is shown to be more open-minded about sex education, her mother is a conservative moral crusader who successfully gets a teacher canned because he dared to suggest that “hygiene” should be a subject taught in school. Joan’s situation changes mom’s mind, and the instructor—whose mantra is “ignorance is a sin”—is reinstated and makes plans to show a pair of sex ed films to students separated into male and female classes. During the screenings of Mom and Dad, the film would be stopped at this point to introduce a live lecturer—actors who went by the name of Elliot Forbes—while ushers (sometimes dressed as nurses) went up and down the aisles selling sex ed booklets. After the cue card “and now our story continues…”, the film resumes with the girls watching “The Facts of Life” (which features graphic footage of both a live birth and a C-section delivery) and the boys being subjected to “Seeing Is Believing,” a highlights reel of some female but mostly male genitalia suffering from advanced cases of gonorrhea and syphilis (to say this is not a popcorn movie is a huge understatement). Notable for being inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2005, Mom and Dad generally looks sharp (for a film mastered from three separate 35mm elements), and it is presented with a fine set of extras, including audio commentary by Eric Schaefer (author of Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! A History of Exploitation Films), Sex Hygiene (a 1942 sex ed short for military members directed by John Ford), sex hygiene lectures and vintage childbirth footage, sex hygiene book pitches, and Mom and Dad radio spots. An interesting time capsule film that once attracted audiences for differing reasons (including titillation, which is hard to imagine, given the images), this is recommended. (R. Pitman)