Directed by Howard Bretherton
Featuring Joseph Crehan, John Parker and Wanda McKay
‘Remember Doc, when Bob and I came trotting into your office just before we were going to be married? We couldn’t wait to get those premartial physical examinations out of the way! Remember? What a time that was!’
Young couple Sally and Bob have been married for a year, and are hoping for a baby. They ask their kindly doctor for a pregnancy test, triggering a flashback to a year earlier when they attended the doctor’s surgery for pre-marriage check ups. At this appointment, the good old doc immediately blurts out how great it is that Bob’s VD has cleared up so well, and how wonderful it is that Sally’s previous out of wedlock pregnancy hasn’t affected her life (holy breach of patient confidentiality, Batman!). Bob and Sally both immediately get judgementally up in arms over the other’s perceived sexual misdeeds, and Sally storms out. But the good doctor manages to patch things up, and helpfully introduces them to the ‘facts of life’ via three educational shorts: The Story of VD, The Story of Reproduction and The Story of Birth.
This film exists mostly as excuse to bring the three sex ed shorts at its heart to a wider exploitation audience, broadening their reach from the classroom settings for which they were originally created. And so we settle in for the educational turned exploitational, in a series of films that may make you never want to have sex again. The Story of VD covers the effects of syphilis and gonorrhoea, featuring plentiful explicit footage of sores, infected penises, and (possibly stillborn) babies born with venereal diseases, plus some incredible statistics (did you know that ‘10% of all insanity if caused by syphilis!’?). The Story of Reproduction is a tamer look at the processes of menstruation, conception and foetal development, but does include some surprising for the era full-frontal nudity, plus typical heteropatriarchal bullshit defining man as ‘the worker’ and ‘the protector’, but woman as being solely ‘the incubator of the human egg’! Finally, The Story of Birth, which was probably intended as the highlight of the film, presenting graphic footage of a natural birth followed by a caesarian section. The C-section was especially difficult to watch, particularly when the doctor sticks his hands right into the incision in the poor woman’s uterus to try to remove the baby. These are the ‘facts of life’ all right.
Aside from the trio of educational shorts that make up much of its running time, the most notable thing about this film is that the dramatic wrap around sections are the most unbelievable and ridiculous that I have ever seen in a film of this type. First there is Sally, who seems deliriously excited at remembering the time the doctor taught them about the birds and the bees. Then onto the story of how Bob got VD: his good friend has about to be deployed in the army, so he hired a sex worker to celebrate. Bringing her round to their shared apartment, the lady of the night took advantage of Bob as he slept(!), leaving him with a sexually transmitted disease. But all was forgiven when Bob was also conscripted, and his buddy was killed in action during WWII while saving Bob’s life!
[*SPOILERS*] Even more ridiculously, when Sally tells her story of how she became pregnant outside of wedlock, the doctors realises that the fiancé who knocked her up and then died at war was the same guy who inadvertently caused Bob’s STD! Once Sally and Bob realise that the same loveable fellow was to blame for both their misfortunes, all their misgivings evaporate. They head off happily on to marriage and procreation, under the watchful eye of their doctor, plus god himself, as implied by the quote from Genesis that the film ends on. [*END SPOILERS*]
This film is mostly of historical interest, giving a glimpse into the sometimes twisted views past eras had of sex and gender roles, and the ways in which educational footage could be used to get around proscriptions on sex and nudity. But it is also marginally more entertaining than the average film of this type due to the silly melodrama of the wraparound story. This aspect of the film pushes it into the realm of camp, bringing with it more amusing moments and making it more watchable than usual for this kind of exploitation/education hybrid.
Worth watching? Mostly of curiosity value, but it has its moments and can be quite funny due to the ridiculousness of the plot.
Truth in advertising? In Christian tradition, it has been said that pain during menstruation and suffering during childbirth are the punishment that all women must bear due to Eve’s sins. The film does cover the topics of menstruation and childbirth, but with (thankfully) no focus on the sinful nature of womanhood, so I will deduct points for irrelevance: 2/5.