|Title:||Mom and Dad|
Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|06.16.07||Alamo Downtown|| Man so much is going on this month it's crazy. i really feel like, as a movie watcher, i'm on overdrive in a sprint to the end of the month. Eventually I'll have to return to the real world but i'm trying my best to stay in the reel one for another 10 days or so.|
Anyway, tonight the Alamo played host to Joe Bob Briggs. I must confess to not being too familiar with him but I know he's a big spokesperson for B- and drive-in movies and a lot of texans really love him so I figured if there was any time to become more familiar with what he's all about, it'd be tonight. Before Mom and Dad (the main reason I went), he and Texas historian (and apparently highly entertaining UT professor) Don Graham gave a presentation on the history of Texas movies from the earliest days when San Antonio was a film center before everyone moved on to Hollywood all the way up to Bottle Rocket, a film made by texans starring texans taking place in texas but really not being firmly identifiable as such at all.
The presentation consisted of a bunch of slides which Graham spoke about and Briggs chimed in once in a while, followed by a series of memorable clips (ending with Pee Wee's Big Adventure) and a few Q&As. It was very different than whatever I expected but largely entertaining and pretty interesting as well. Again a completely different crowd here - mostly old people drinking wine - which made me feel like i'd snuck into a jazz lecture or something. Really cool different vibe from what I'm used to at the Alamo. I'm really glad they do things like this and kinda wish they would do more of them (assuming they're just as good as this was).
And then most of the old people left and an intimate group of us sat down to watch Mom and Dad.
Mom and Dad was like the king of sex hygeine movies made infamous by an aggresive old-school roadshow marketting campaign and presentation platform. It was really part circus, part, freak show, part sex show, and part morality play all mixed together with vaudeville and burlesque stylings and packaged under educational pretext. Apparently it made upwards of a hundred million dollars from the 40s when it was made right up to the late 70s. The book I'm reading right now (Sleazoid Express) mentions this movie practically every other page and opportunities to see it are far and few between nowadays, so a big thanks to Joe Bob Briggs for bringing it down to show (even though it looked like a DVD of a VHS of an old 16mm print with a little sprocket damage here and there).
Briggs spent some time describing the circumstance and context in which the film used to be shown, talking about Kroger Babb's meticulous plans to create as much furor as possible in each town and milk as much money as possible from each viewer before moving on to the next small town. He'd even stop the show after about an hour and introduce Dr. Elliot Forbes (leading sex hygeine expert) who would talk for like twenty minutes about the dangers of unwanted pregnancy and social disease then sell pamphlets for a buck a piece before starting the film up again so the audience could see "the good stuff" in the form of educational films-within-the-film with names like "Facts of life" (with the live birth footage, "Modern American Surgery" (with detailed caesarian footage that still grossed my whole row out), and "Seeing is Believing" (with lots of photos displaying the ravaging effects of syphilis and ghonnorhea). Up until this point, the film plays very similar to (I'm guessing) every other sex ed film ever made. I know I was heavily reminded of Reefer Madness in the way that the film sets up an ultra-idealistic utopia world squeeky cleaner than the most tame Ozzy & Harriet or Donna Reed show then portrays the negative effects of teen lust and giving in to temptation as literally the end of the world. Briggs talked some about the different similarities this genre shared - how all bad things happen at the road house or supper club and how most carriers of VD were lower class and often minority - and that Mom and Dad certainly wasn't the first sex ed film and probably wasn't even the best one (not sure how different the best one would be), but that Babb was pretty genius in giving it such an innocent name, playing each city either into or away from the controversy that might erupt around it, and carrying on with such clever tricks to make each city a moneymaker for him.
As a film it's nothing too legendary or special, but the story of the film is exceptionally interesting to me. Aside from being a forefather of exploitation cinema, it's also an interesting picture of how novel films were back then before our moving-image-saturated world of today. Very interesting night!