Cast & Crew
On a train trip home from the big city, Mrs. Sarah Blake decries the lack of morals among today's youths when she witnesses several teenagers drinking alcohol in public. The scandalized Mrs. Blake decides to convene a meeting of her morals committee when she returns home. That night, the Blakes's daughter Joan and son Dave attend a high school dance. There, Joan and her date, Allen Curtis, are greeted by chaperone Carl Blackburn, a progressive-minded teacher at the school. Jack Griffith, a big city sophisticate who is visiting his cousin in town, asks Joan to dance and later invites her for a stroll in the moonlight. The next morning, Mrs. Blake is horrified when she learns that Joan has danced with a stranger, and Mr. Blake counsels his wife to discuss the facts of life with their daughter. One day after school, Jack meets Joan at the soda fountain and asks her for a date. Taking Jack's advice, Joan later lies to her mother that she is going to her friend Mary Lou Gardner's house. On the drive home, Jack seduces the naïve Joan, and she returns home in tears, sullied and regretting the loss of her virginity. At school the next morning, Mr. Blackburn broaches the topic of "social and moral hygiene." Aware that school policy forbids any mention of sex education, an outraged Mrs. Blake rallies her morals club to fire the teacher. Soon after, Jack apologizes to Joan for his brash behavior and then informs her that he is leaving for the coast to work in his father's business. Rather than be fired, Mr. Blackburn, meanwhile, decides to quit teaching and become an insurance agent, but before departing, he assures his students that he will always be their confidant. As the weeks pass, Joan begins to suspect that she is pregnant. Just after completing a letter to Jack detailing her fears, Joan learns that he has been killed in a plane crash. Months later, Joan suffers morning sickness and discovers that her clothes are becoming tight on her. Tormented, she confides her predicament to Mary Lou, who convinces her to go to a doctor. Before seeing the physician, however, Joan flees his office in disgrace. Concerned about Joan's strange behavior, Junella, the family maid, alerts Dave. When Dave goes to Joan's room to talk to her, he finds a suicide note on her bed and Joan unconscious on the bathroom floor. After Joan confides her problems to her brother, Dave turns to Mr. Blackburn for advice. Proceeding to the Blake house, Mr. Blackburn apprises them of their daughter's situation and blames Mrs. Blake for caring more about her own reputation than her daughter's well-being. Chastened, Mrs. Blake accompanies Joan to her uncle's home in Boston and arranges for Mr. Blackburn's reinstatement as a teacher. At the school, Mr. Blackburn institutes a new sex education curriculum and invites experts to present films dealing with ovulation, menstruation, conception, child birth and venereal disease. After Christmas, the Blakes go to visit Joan, who has fallen gravely ill, and at her bedside, the family learns that Joan will survive, but has lost her baby.
Willa Pearl Curtis
California State Jitterbug Champions
Lewis G. Dow
J. S. Jossey
Barney A. Sarecky
Screened to gender-segregated audiences.
Olympic star Jesse Owens was the film's pitch man in black theaters for a time.
There was a break in the film in which the audience was treated to a live lecture by "The Eminent Hygiene Commentator Elliot Forbes", entitled "The Secrets of Sensible Sex". The lecture featured a pitch for a book that would be sold to the audience. At one point there were over 25 units working, each accompanied by their own "Elliot Forbes".
The film opens with an offscreen choir singing "The Star Spangled Banner" while the song's words are flashed onscreen over a background of patriotic images. This is followed by a lengthy written foreword from the producers, stating that ignorance is a sin and knowledge is power, and asserting that youth is entitled to a knowledge of hygiene and complete understanding of the facts of life. An intermission follows just after "Joan" learns that "Jack" has been killed in a plane crash. During that interlude, hygiene commentator Elliott Forbes gives an offscreen presentation. In a modern interview, Kroger Babb, a partner in Hygienic Productions and one of the producers of the film, stated that he raised $62,000 from twenty investors to finance the picture. The film continued to be distributed through the 1950s and grossed between $40,000,000 and $100,000,000 internationally, according to Babb. The picture's success was in large part due to Babb's exploitation strategies. According to ads for the film, screenings were segregated by sex. The ads assured that two nurses would be in attendance at each screening, because "you May faint, but you'll learn the facts!" Each screening contained an intermission during which a lecturer using the name Elliott Forbes, "the fearless hygiene commentator," would speak and then sell sex education pamphlets addressed to "mothers and daughters" or "fathers and sons." A January 1948 ad in the Los Angeles Sentinel notes that Olympic athlete Jesse Owens introduced the film at a black theater in Los Angeles. The The Exhibitor review adds that the film ran ninety-six minutes while the lecture ran twenty-four minutes. According to Babb, as many as three hundred prints of the film were screened around the country at once, each with its own two nurses and lecturer named "Elliott Forbes." Babb also said that the film was taken to court by many local censorship boards over the course of its distribution.