Done in conjunction with the National Film Registry and Something Weird Video, the first entry in Kino Lorber’s Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age Of The Exploitation Picture, Mom and Dad has the distinction of becoming one of the highest grossing films of the 1940’s despite being condemned by the National Legion of Decency. The story concerns Joan Blake (June Carlson, a pretty, young suburban teenager with a promising future ahead of her. She’s smart, but more than a little naïve when it comes to the opposite sex. Her school doesn’t offer sex education classes and discussing sex at home is forbidden. She falls for pilot Jack Griffin (Bob Lowell). After being sweet talked by Griffin, she has sex with him.
A few weeks later, Jack has been killed in a plane crash and Joan is experiencing early morning sickness. While her mother (Lois Austin) insists it’s from eating too much candy, Joan comes to understand she’s pregnant. Mom wonders how her social group will react when then find out about her daughters’ pregnancy. Meanwhile, Joan must figure out what she will do next. The previously conservative school reacts to news of Joan’s pregnancy by having the health teacher show a film called The Facts of Life that explains the functions of the female body, the menstrual cycle, etc.,
Mom and Dad finishes with a live birth. What kind of birth you saw depended on where and when you saw the film. With up to 300 prints of Mom and Dad touring the country at any one time, each could be edited to suit local tastes. In some areas the birth was a regular live birth. Sometimes it was a C-section. Sometimes Joan’s baby was stillborn, while in other versions it was put up for adoption. Some versions contained images of syphilis and venereal disease (*Kino’s Blu-ray contains all of these endings and images).
At the sixty-seven-minute mark, the movie stops for an intermission. During theatrical screenings in the forties, Mom and Dad toured with a hygiene specialist named Elliot Forbes…who was an actor hired by the touring company. Forbes would give a talk about sexual hygiene and, when the movie was over, sell them sex education books distributed by the ushers who were sometimes dressed as nurses! These 1940’s showings had a real carnival atmosphere from the sounds of it…
The movie itself isn’t a work of art. It isn’t the melodramatic tale of Joan and her family that made Mom and Dad an extremely profitable hit on the exploitation circuit. Producer Kroger Babb was simply savvy enough in the ways of promotion to include graphic footage of what was at that time, taboo subject matter. As a result, the movie is historically important. While it will seem tame by today’s standards and most kids today see tougher stuff in high school health class, Mom and Dad was truly shocking in 1945.
This is from a 4K restoration from 35mm archive elements and it begins with this text on the screen, “The original camera negative of Mom and Dad has suffered severe nitrate decomposition and is mostly lost. This 4K restoration is derived from the best surviving elements: two separate 35mm prints and a 35mm fine grain master struck directly from the surviving 25 minutes of the nitrate camera negative, preserved by the Academy Film Archive.” Presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the black and white film looks pretty good under the circumstances. Contrast is strong throughout and depth is impressive. I did notice some occasional instances of minor print damage, but it doesn’t deter the overall viewing experience.
The PCM mono track is understandably limited, but serviceable. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. Levels are well balanced throughout. While there’s a vague hiss here and there, given the age of the material the track sounds fine.
No subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Author Eric Schaefer: The author of “Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! A History of Exploitation Films: 1919-1959” discusses what exploitation film is, discusses those behind the production of Mom and Dad and the unique way it was marketed, cast members, the shoot and more.
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Mom and Dad Radio Spots (Audio, 17:23) ‘Testimonials’ meant to be played in theater lobbies and the like, in order to generate hype for the film.
- Sex Hygiene (HD, 29:07) Released in 1942, this official training film from the War Department was co-directed by the great John Ford. It covers the effects of venereal disease that can spread through illicit sex.
- Sex Hygiene Lectures and Vintage Childbirth Footage
- The Story of Bob and Sally (HD, 16:22) Essentially a lecture on the reproduction organs and subsequently, how babies are made.
- Not Wanted (The Wrong Rut) (HD, 10:51) A short film about the dangers unwed mothers and their illegitimate children pose to society.
- Life and its Secrecies (HD, 10:54) A lecture about how life is created. A revisit of to the reproductive organs.
- Human Wreckage (HD, 7:05) A fella with scientific diagrams and some icky footage explains syphilis and gonorrhea.
- Sex Hygiene Book Pitches
- Drive-in Theater (HD, 1:12) A few books and a ‘family calculator’ that could be purchased as a set or individually at screenings of the film.
- Donn Davison (HD, 15:43) Davison discusses natural childbirth, c-sections and the birth of twins and warns that people are apt to pass out when the footage he shows is screened. He talks about various aspects of his career and then promotes two books he has available on parenting.
- Michael and Helga (HD, 3:38) Really just promotes two books on sexuality, promising they’re neither expensive nor outdated.
- Walter Hale (HD, 3:40) Despite requests, more nude content can’t be delivered in this theater. However, they do have a set of books available for purchase that contains daring photos of women in the nude!
- Gallery of Exploitation Trailers: Mom and Dad (HD,1:08) / The Wrong Rut (HD, 2:36) / Street Corner (HD, 2:11)
Mom and Dad (Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture Volume 1) (1945)
Movie title: Mom and Dad (Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Picture Volume 1)
Duration: 97 min
Director(s): William Beaudine
Actor(s): June Carlson, Lois Austin, George Eldredge, Jimmy Clark , Hardie Albright , Bob Lowell