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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:47 am 
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The Joy of Sex Education

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From the impenetrably euphemistic to the breathtakingly explicit, this intriguing anthology takes us through 60 years of sex education in Britain from the 1910s to the 1970s. All 'unmentionable matters' pertaining to sex are dealt with, from the WW1 warning to soldiers about the dangers of cavorting with loose women in London's West End, 'Whatsoever a Man Soweth' (1917), to puberty pep-talks for girls on how to avoid pregnancy in 'Don't be Like Brenda' (1973).

'The Joy of Sex Education' is a history of British sexual health and hygiene films.
'The Joy of Sex' is a registered trademark, licensed from Octopus Publishing Group Limited.


Last edited by MichaelB on Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:51 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
...impenetrably euphemistic...
:lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:26 am 
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Press release:

Quote:
From the earliest-known example, Whatsoever a Man Soweth (1917), to the comical, but ultimately serious, ’Ave You Got a Male Assistant Please Miss? (1973), this anthology of sixteen key titles preserved in the BFI National Archive takes in almost 60 years of the British sex education film.

Take a journey through the euphemisms, metaphors and diagrams of yore to discover the controversial attitude-changing works of the early 70s. All matters, unmentionable or otherwise, are dealt with here, from WW1 warnings to soldiers of the potential dangers of cavorting with loose women in London’s West End, to puberty pep-talks for girls and scare stories to deter unwanted teenage pregnancies.

By turns enlightening, entertaining and surprising, the range and type of works presented here will interest film fans, social historians and anyone interested to ensure that they stay on the road to health.

The Joy of Sex Education offers a filmic insight into Britain’s historically complex relationship with informing the nation’s youth about sex. With teenage pregnancy rates still soaring and sexually transmitted diseases on the increase, the question of sex education remains just as relevant today.

Special features
• New music scores for Whatsoever a Man Soweth, Any Evening After Work and How to Tell composed by Dave Formula from British post-punk band Magazine
• Illustrated booklet including notes and credits on all of the films alongside new introductory essays by Tim Boon (Chief Curator at the Science Museum, London), Hera Cook (Lecturer in the History of Sexuality at the University of Birmingham) and Katy McGahan (Non-Fiction Curator at the BFI National Archive and programmer of this DVD

Release date: 9 February 2009
RRP £19.56 / cat. no. BFIVD762 / cert 18
UK, USA / 1917-1973 / colour, and black & white / 338 mins / silent with music / optional subtitles for the hearing-impaired / DVD-9 / original aspect ratio 1.33:1

I'll see if I can get a list of individual titles, though I imagine they'll be pretty meaningless to non-specialists.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:38 pm 
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I can now confirm individual titles:

Whatsoever a Man Soweth (1917, 38 mins)
Any Evening After Work (1930, 27 mins)
How To Tell (1931, 21 mins)
The Mystery of Marriage (1932, 32 mins)
Trial for Marriage (1936, 28 mins)
A Test for Love (1937, 28 mins)
The Road of Health (1938, 11 mins)
Love on Leave (1940, 33 mins)
Six Little Jungle Boys (1945, 9 mins)
The People at No. 19 (1949, 17 mins)
Growing Girls (1949, 12 mins)
Learning to Live (1964, 19 mins)
Her Name Was Ellie, His Name Was Lyle (1967, 28 mins)
Growing Up (1971, 23 mins)
Don't Be Like Brenda (1973, 8 mins)
'Ave You Got A Male Assistant Please Miss? (1973, 4 mins)

The booklet is around 40 pages, with detailed notes on each film and three context-setting essays.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:52 pm 
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This sounds like a total blast.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:11 pm 
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Damn Right - pre-order ahoy!

It's just struck me - this set AND the upcoming Pasolini Trilogy of Life - is someone at the BFI deliberately baiting the Daily Mail?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:56 pm 
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Brilliant cover art. Might be NSFW. (Am I the only one reminded of John and Yoko's Two Virgins album cover?)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 3:50 pm 
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Rave review in today's Times.

Quote:
Some of the old films are perfect nuggets for social historians; others are superbly acted, with no production values spared. A Test for Love, made in 1937 by British Instructional Pictures, had me weeping into my Tetleys. The morality movie concerns the love triangle between Betty, Jim and George, and is set in a seaside cigarette and confectionary shop. It is Jules et Jim for the Craven A-smoking set. Betty (the heroines are almost always called Betty) thinks Jim-the-builder is being unfaithful and goes off in a fast car with fast George. The demon drink is taken, a nasty disease is caught, and soon poor Betty is regretting her “impetuosity”. She downgrades from a hat to a fetching beret and is on the third-class train to her auntie until she is cured. “Oh you fool, it's too late now!” she tells Jim when he returns. But he's an understanding fellow; he proposes to Betty. Jim wants her to “to merry him and be hippy” - yes, even the working classes have cut-glass accents in sex-ed world. It ends with a passionate kiss behind the drawn blinds of the confectioners.

I had checkdiscs for all of 24 hours last week, but sadly never got round to watching them before they were repossessed by the BFI press office. For some unaccountable reason they've been getting rather more review requests than they usually do for serious historical and sociological archive-trawling projects like this.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:26 pm 
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This, of course, will be a huge seller, and should also be on Blu-Ray too, in order to appreciate the cut glass accents in True HD uncompressed sound, lest they be misrepresented!...


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:26 pm 
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Mine's on pre-order - along with the Jeff Keen these are the first pre-orders I've done for a long time (except for Mamma Mia on Blu-Ray - and that was a Xmas present).

These look so much fun, as well as being fascinating from a purely sociological pov. I'm reminded of the wonderful Bombs at Teatime collection - WW2 propaganda films which were so 'British' (in a very different way to, say, Jennings), vaguely ridiculous and yet subtly moving at the same time. I suspect these will be 'subtly moving' in a rather different way...

There are times (quite a lot of them...) when I miss University - and this is one of them. My doctoral supervisor was Andy Medhurst and I would love to know what he makes of them. If you haven't come across his work, his main interests are gender and queer cinema - especially British - and it is very accessible and enjoyable. His lectures were a joy - especially when he'd be laying into something many people assumed he'd like (such as 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy').

Oh - and as an aside, just to make this set even more attractive, my boss is called Brenda...


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:42 pm 
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For a taster, here's 'Ave You Got A Male Assistant Please, Miss? (1973) in its entirety - complete with an eye-wateringly tasteless one-liner at the end.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:27 pm 
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My goodness! I suppose when it is put that way a condom would be somewhat of a timesaver. :-k

Though I don't understand why they couldn't have enjoyed a nice cup of tea instead of wasting all that energy in the first place!

That final motto may also be applicable to the principle of film making - "Writers and Directors, you may want to jump into a project together and fool around with wild and exciting storylines, but be wary in taking innocent fun too far or you could be left holding the baby. Make sure you hire a good entertainment lawyer to do your negotiating for you before you commit. You don't want to...etc,etc."


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:13 am 
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The Guardian.

Plus - until next Wednesday - BBC Radio 4's Front Row. The relevant bit starts at approx 15:18.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:52 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
For a taster, here's 'Ave You Got A Male Assistant Please, Miss? (1973) in its entirety - complete with an eye-wateringly tasteless one-liner at the end.

This film could be interpreted as having an anti-natalist message: have sex; use a condom; avoid pregnancy; avoid abortion. The Chinese government would love this one!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:13 am 
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...and here's an extract from The Mystery of Marriage (1932), which falls squarely into the "euphemistic" category.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:34 pm 
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That reminds me - I have to remember to stock up on monocles and waistcoats for future courtship rituals!

By the way the BBC covered the films at the end of their 10 p.m. news bulletin tonight! So these films are certainly attracting, or at least being promoted to, a wide audience! I particularly liked one breathlessly delivered line from the report that "one film from the 1970s featured graphic depictions of masturbation, which led to it being banned in Birmingham!" Who would have thought the Brummies could be so prudish?

Poor Huw Edwards could hardly keep a straight face when they cut back to him!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:52 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
...and here's an extract from The Mystery of Marriage (1932)

At 1:57 it reminds me of Gertrud.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:18 am 
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Today's Independent - plus a supplementary review by a 15-year-old.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:56 pm 
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That reminds me of the trailer for Helga, which tries to sell the film as being educational fare. Instead of showing 'shocking' footage from the film the trailer consists of vox pops with people on the streets and features the following priceless exchange:

(Interviewer): During your lifetime did your parents ever teach you the facts of life?

(Woman): Well, I really did not have very much education on sex. I had to - um - learn most of it the hard way.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:10 am 
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Dr Amicus wrote:
It's just struck me - this set AND the upcoming Pasolini Trilogy of Life - is someone at the BFI deliberately baiting the Daily Mail?

Well, here's what the Daily Mail thinks - and the first comment from 'Doreen from Dorset' is priceless. (So much so that I suspect she may not be real).


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:27 pm 
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Peter Bradshaw's blog - with a little nugget of info that some round here might find intriguing:

Quote:
Remarkably, Bruce's steady girl Laura is played by Amy Taubin, who was to become the legendary film critic for the Village Voice, and who is still a prominent and much respected attender of the Cannes film festival.

(The film's Her Name Was Ellie; His Name Was Kyle, the only American film in the collection).


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 4:50 am 
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I received my copy of this yesterday - and MichaelB beat me to it by pointing out Amy Taubin's appearance.

Anyway, I watched a couple of the films last night, the last two of the set. I'll echo earlier comments about Male Assistant (very 70s), but had a possibly unusual reaction to Don't Be Like Brenda. Which, should anyone care, I'll put as a spoiler

[Reveal] Spoiler:
I chose this one to watch as it was quite short (8 mins), and also my boss is called Brenda, so figured this might be worth a good joke or two. Anyway, I was finding it fascinating stuff (the difference in attitudes between these two films is considerable) - loads of 'no sex before your married' - until she names the baby Alan and puts him up for adoption, at which point I started cryin. I was adopted - a bit earlier than the film was made - and my pre-adoption name was Alan, and although I don't know why I was put up for adoption, I've always assumed it was a somewhat similar scenario.

Anyway, this looks like a typically excellent BFI release - and just an additional word of praise for the booklet. It's MOC quality - which I think should speack for itself.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:03 am 
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Extract from Radio 4's Today programme in which the BFI's Katy McGahan discusses the collection with psychologist Dr Petra Boynton.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:11 am 
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I've started my journey through this set and wanted to add a couple of comments here. First off I wanted to praise the little montage from the films used over the DVD menu - it works as a wonderfully funny little trailer for the films themselves!

The booklet was also fascinating. I was glad to see that each film has a page of notes devoted to it, along with some essays covering the history and general background of their production. It was interesting to learn that the early organisations promoting sexual health were closely linked to the eugenics movement (I guess the Second World War put a stop to that collaboration), and that many of these organisations were voluntary and local in nature before the government got involved in such matters much later on.

The bewildering array of acronyms on display in a couple of the essays - the NCCVD, the EES, MOsH, the LGB, the BSHC, BIF Films (later GBI), the COI - did a lot to remind of the way those Peter Greenaway films playfully toyed with the British love of official sounding bodies using various acronyms, including finding new meanings for the BFI!

Whatsoever A Man Soweth

I particularly liked the way that all the 'loose' women in the film wear a similar ensemble of fur coat and and a hat with a feather in it, as if it were the official uniform! Maybe I got that impression because I didn't really see any other signifiers of 'prostitute' placed on the ladies on the street who barely begin talking to Tom before he is pushing them away! That is likely a restriction of the film being silent though, since without dialogue (or dialogue in intertitles) I always imagined the ladies were just asking the time or for directions, which helped to make the "get away from me!" response funnier!

There seems to be a clear line between Madonna and whore, who do not move in the same worlds (it does seem that being an unaccompanied woman walking around in public is also a major signifier, since decent women never leave the home), and it is only the man being used as the conduit that allows the disease to spread to the family.

It was also amusing that hospitals seemed to provide personalised lectures and guided tours to any Tom, Dick or Harry who are sent to them for information on VD (even if Tom and Harry never go!), but I guess that was an understandable convention of one character being the audience representative and receiving the medical lecture in the film on behalf of the rest of us (which leads to the wonderful intertitle "Dr Burns puts the facts before Dick"!)

The lecture itself is presented in screen filling blocks of text with the doctor pointing out lines of text from the Final Report from the Commission for Venereal Diseases (in another unintentionally funny moment the doctor points at one passage, turns a page then closes the book, then there is a jump edit to his finger pointing at the same underlined passage in preparation for the next intertitle!) It didn't feel particularly cinematically engaging to have the main point of the whole film thrown at you in a couple of paragraphs of quickly disappearing text, but then this section was bookended with more interesting sequences showing the Wassermann test and the disease attacking healthy blood cells under a microscope.

This information scene is bookended by more impactful and emotive shock tactics, with the doctor showing the effects of venereal disease on the bodies of men who have contracted it and then after providing Dick with the information sends him across the road to a hospital for blind children to be confronted with the effects of passing on the disease to unborn children.

The rest of the film is a cautionary tale about Dick's comrades, Tom and Harry, and the effects that their brief dalliance with a couple of fur coated, feathery hatted ladies of ill repute cost them. This is especially illustrated through Tom passing the disease on to his wife and unborn child (though the best performance in the film is given by Harry's girl Kate who delivers a number of amazingly doom-laden, portentous looks at the camera without over dramatising her likely fate too much. This relationship does not really pay off dramatically seemingly in order to put a question mark over whether Harry does or does not have VD from his own liaisons, though it does allow for Tom to have someone other than himself to blame for his own actions).

There was a queasy interplay between reality and fiction as real sufferers of the disease are trotted out for the characters to be shocked at. The early scene of showing "rotting legs" omits the faces of the people whose legs or arms they are (and the soldier first shown taking the Wassermann test has his back to us) but the most shocking moment is when Tom is presented with his deformed baby and we have a pan from his face as he is bent over the baby to the poor thing lying there oblivious, providing the queasy verisimilitude of the actor and the real baby together in the same scene, and the feeling that deformity is being paraded and a baby being used simply for shock value, albeit in the cause of a message. The same could apply to the parade of blind children for the camera, and Dick, a little earlier on, but the baby is even more helpless against the prying eyes of the camera while the actor is emoting away above it. I guess this is something that will come up again and again as I go through the films - the fine line between education and exploitation and whether one justifies the other in order to spread an important message.

However that leads me to the best aspect of the film - the various scenes which show street life, train stations, groups of soldiers, crowds and other real locations. This film is full of these interesting moments, especially in the first half before it becomes a stagey piece about Tom's horrific legacy to his family (though there is also a neatly compressed sequence of flashbacks/reiteration of previous events as Dick imparts what he has learnt about venereal disease to Tom) and that makes this film particularly valuable beyond the sexual advice given.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:26 am 
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colinr0380 wrote:
The bewildering array of acronyms on display in a couple of the essays - the NCCVD, the EES, MOsH, the LGB, the BSHC, BIF Films (later GBI), the COI - did a lot to remind of the way those Peter Greenaway films playfully toyed with the British love of official sounding bodies using various acronyms, including finding new meanings for the BFI!

...and I imagine you're well aware that Greenaway spent a decade or so working for the COI before becoming a full-time independent filmmaker.

Talking of which, has anyone carried out research into Greenaway's COI output in the light of the preoccupations found in his subsequent films? I suspect this would shed at least as much useful light on his career as examining the work of people he cites as influences (Alain Resnais et al).


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