World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Social guidance film

Article Id: WHEBN0000210250
Reproduction Date:

Title: Social guidance film  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Graveyard Mountain Home, Sid Davis, Boys Beware, Vazhkai, Bahar (film)
Collection: Film Genres, Social Guidance Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Social guidance film

Social guidance films constitute a genre of educational films attempting to guide children and adults to behave in certain ways. Originally produced by the U.S. government as "attitude-building films" during WWII,[1] the genre grew to be a common source of instruction in elementary and high school classrooms in the USA from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. The films covered topics including courtesy, grammar, social etiquette and dating, personal hygiene and grooming, health and fitness, civic and moral responsibility, sexuality, child safety, national loyalty, racial and social prejudice, juvenile delinquency, drug use, and driver safety; the genre also includes films for adults, covering topics such as marriage, business etiquette, general safety, home economics, career counseling and how to balance budgets.[2]


  • History 1
  • Appearances in other media 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Social guidance films were generally produced by corporations such as Coronet Instructional Films, Centron Corporation for Young America Films, and occasionally by better-known companies such as Ford Motor Company, Encyclopædia Britannica and Crawley Films for McGraw-Hill Book Company. Many were also made by independent producers, most notably the prolific maverick independent filmmaker Sid Davis. Few of these films featured notable actors or celebrities, and only a few were ever produced by a major Hollywood studio, such as the films made by Walt Disney Productions and Warner Bros. In rare instances, the films were sponsored by a major company such as Kotex or General Motors. Ken Smith, in his seminal 1999 book on the genre, Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945 - 1970, estimates that there were "around three thousand" films made that fall into the "social guidance" film genre.[2]

While many of the films were merely instructional (like 1941's Posture and Exercise, 1949's Posture and Personality and 1952's Duck and Cover), others ended with an invitation for a classroom discussion of the topic (1956's What About Alcoholism?; 1959's What About Prejudice?), whereas others were presented as striking cautionary tales (1959's Signal 30; 1961's Seduction of the Innocent; 1967's Narcotics: Pit of Despair).

Although sometimes viewed as conservative or reactionary by today's standards, Smith points out that these films were not made by conservatives or reactionaries but instead "by some of the most liberal and progressive-minded people of their time."[2]

Appearances in other media

As films in this genre are largely in public domain, they have been used in modern productions outside of their intended purpose, usually as a means of unintentional comedy. A number of short social guidance films, such as Posture Pals (1952) and Are You Ready for Marriage? (1950), were featured and lampooned on the television comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 to provide padding for episodes in which the featured movie segments did not fill out the program's roughly 90-minute running time. On The Weird Al Show, clips from still other films were taken and edited together with new voiceovers to make parodies.

The 1999 feature film, The Iron Giant, set in 1957, features a social guidance film-within-a-film titled, Atomic Holocaust, the style and tone of which parody 1952's Duck and Cover.

A fifth season episode of the AMC series, Mad Men, which takes place between July 1966 and August 1966, uses the title of 1959's Signal 30 as the episode title.

See also


  1. ^ Cripps, Thomas (1993). Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era. USA:  
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Ken (1999). Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945 - 1970. New York City:  

External links

  • Duck and Cover
  • The Prelinger Archives at the Internet Archive
  • AV Geeks at the Internet Archive

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.