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Summary: A wartime Royal Air Force sex education film illustrated by a lecture, medical footage and scenes with actors about the threat posed to everybody's health by gonorrhea and syphilis.
Description: START 01:00:00 Reel 1 Over stock shots showing people taking part in sporting and leisure activities, getting married and bringing up a family, the film describes the benefits of living an active, healthy life, not only for the individual but also for society and for the next generation. Its basic message is: the man who willingly hazards his own health "is either a criminal or a fool". An athletic young man posing as a discus thrower from Ancient Greece exemplifies the maxim 'A healthy mind in a healthy body'.
01:02:27 A Medical Officer (MO) from the Royal Air Force's Medical Branch with the rank of Wing Commander (played by the actor Ralph Michael) proceeds in a stern headmasterly fashion to lecture a room full of RAF servicemen about the folly of risky sexual behavior and the perils of ignorance. He displays blackboard drawings showing the male and female reproductive organs and describes the most common venereal diseases, gonorrhea and syphilis.
01:06:58 The MO proceeds to to describe how the first of these, gonorrhea, is caught, the symptoms of the disease and its deleterious long-term effects if neglected by anyone with the infection. He stresses the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
01:10:42 Reel 2 The subject of the VD lecture switches to syphilis, a killer disease and at one point early in the twentieth century, Great Britain's third deadliest disease, but now curable thanks to improvements in medical science.
01:11:28 The MO describes how a man can be infected with syphilis and sets out in graphic detail the full range of its symptoms - the immediate ones illustrated here with shots of badly ulcerated penises and lip and mouth sores on men with the disease - and the catastrophic long-term consequences - heart disease, paralysis, blindness and insanity - for the infected individual and his wife.
01:15:01 As for the prevention of VD, the lecturer advises abstinence and fidelity; failing that, the use of a basic level of intelligence in situations where temptation might occur, such as meeting single women over drinks in pubs - "a girl who allows herself to go drinking with strangers isn't going to be too particular". If sex does take place, the use of a rubber sheath doesn't guarantee one hundred percent protection.
01:17:47 The MO then offers some practical advice for men who have just had sex. He reminds them that failure to report VD is a punishable offence and urges anybody who believes he might have caught it to report immediately to his Medical Officer. He concludes his talk by asking the members of his audience not to adopt a 'holier-than-thou' attitude to anyone they know who has VD but to offer instead sympathy for his predicament together with advice to get it treated immediately.
Production Details: Air Ministry (Production sponsor)
Michael, Ralph (Production cast)
Personalities, Units and Organisations: Royal Air Force, RAF Medical Branch (regiment/service)
Keywords: Royal Air Force 1939-1945 (theme)
Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W
Sound format: Sound
Soundtrack language: English
Title language: English
Subtitle language: None
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 2
Footage: 1992 ft; Running time: 21 mins 21 secs
Notes: Credits: I thank my colleague George Smith for the identication of the actor Ralph Michael playing the Medical Officer in this film.
Remarks: an attempt to address the tricky subject of VD that manages to combine frankness and moral disapproval at the same time. Its attitude to women in the circumstances depicted here reflects an age-old tendency to shift the blame for VD and loose morals in general away from male behaviour onto that of the female.