"Well golly Mr. Hall, I don't know the answers to all these questions!"
March 14, 2001 8:48 AM   Subscribe

"Well golly Mr. Hall, I don't know the answers to all these questions!" (.avi, 40.1MB), but thanks to mental hygiene films, you soon will. Archive.org has 750 films online for downloading, including the eternally creepy social education films from our youth (or the youth of our parents). Learn how to avoid alcohol (40.7 MB), make the most of your leisure time (33.5MB), take care of your hair and nails (30.6 MB), and avoid becoming an outcast (36.9 MB). Quick and easy solutions to all of your problems await!
posted by Avogadro (13 comments total)
YES! They have Duck & Cover (Of course it's 256.4 MB! Be warned).
posted by Hankins at 9:23 AM on March 14, 2001

Here is a related article written by a buddy of mine about the people who made such films.
posted by thirteen at 9:37 AM on March 14, 2001

Great article, thirteen; thanks for the link. I don't know what I enjoyed knowing more - that publishing mogul David Smart had a motorized rotating bed, or that Mr. Smart had a smarter brother, Alfred. But I did wonder about this evaluation:

Each movie had to end in a tidy fashion, complete with an ultraconservative lesson that would offend no one: Plan ahead; respect your elders; fit in; stop necking.

Ultraconservative? What's the moderate conservative line - hope for the best, flip off your mom, and save the tongue for the second date?
posted by lileks at 10:36 AM on March 14, 2001

I'm getting ready to tie up some bandwidth. Great post, Avogadro. I remember seeing snippets of these Coronet films from Nick at Nite promos and an hysterical hygiene one Pee Wee Herman used on his "Pee Wee Herman Show" on HBO in 1981.
posted by darren at 11:31 AM on March 14, 2001

As mentioned in the article linked to above, there's the book Mental Hygiene which is worth a read if you're into this stuff.

Does anyone happen to remember a short film (possibly shown in your school) about a witch that makes pancakes? It's not an early social education film; may have been produced in the 70s, certainly geared towards kids. If you remember any details about it (title, year released, etc.), let me know.
posted by gluechunk at 11:47 AM on March 14, 2001

Anyone seen Atomic Cafe? It's a documentary made in the early 80s that's a big amalgam of decades worth of cold war/nuke-scare propaganda from the US government. Includes Duck and Cover and lots of other great stuff. Even (heavily staged) footage of helpful navy officers talking to island natives about why they have to move off their people's homeland of centuries so the US government can annihilate it with a hydrogen bomb. Hilarious, educational, and entertaining.

Buy it today! (I'm waiting for the DVD.)
posted by daveadams at 12:11 PM on March 14, 2001

Sorry to post again, but I had to point out that the site has Century 21 Calling (44MB avi)!. It's a great little AT&T promo film set at the Seattle World's Fair.
posted by gluechunk at 12:13 PM on March 14, 2001

SWEEET! I've been looking for these off and on for about 2 years
posted by tj at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2001

This is just the coolest thing ever.

Anybody know if it's difficult to get permission for access to the Internet archives? The page seems to suggest that you have to justify why you want access to the material (i.e. academic research). I don't suppose "cuz its kewl" would pass muster.
posted by briank at 12:16 PM on March 14, 2001

A guy named Rick Prelinger -- then out of New York, now based in San Francisco -- pretty much originated the serious study of these films about 15 years ago with his eponymous archive. He also came up with the best shorthand yet for them: "ephemeral films." He's rescued literally thousands of titles from attics, dumpsters and libraries over the years... To the extent that this discipline exists at all, it exists because of him.
posted by BB at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2001

My favorite title, bar none: Beef Rings the Bell.

Picture it if you can.
posted by argybarg at 6:44 PM on March 14, 2001

I'm wondering if the 'Mr. Bungle goes to Lunch' movie is one of these. As inspiration for the Mike Patton band name and the whole LambdaMOO rape debacle I find it interesting.
posted by john at 12:48 AM on March 15, 2001

Gluechunk: I remember seeing that movie, too. I can't find any information about the movie on the Web, but it sounds like it could be an adaptation of the book Old Black Witch. The title might have been changed for the movie, but the name Devlin sounds vaguely familiar for the writing credit.
posted by kindall at 1:53 AM on March 15, 2001

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