Film: 1971

Social History | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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A film advertising sanitary products in a subtle manner and sex education of sorts. The film is narrated throughout by an adult female whose voice could be described as authoritative, well spoken or posh or speaking with a received pronunciation / R.P./ R. P. accent.

The title of the film and the text "Southalls (Birmingham LTD. Present)" as well as "Western Electric RECORDING" appear superimposed over a long shot of what is probably a school. There is a brief jump in the shot as the camera pans to the right following twenty or so adolescent schoolgirls, dressed in white blouses and black skirts, as they run and disperse into the right of the frame, within the same shot, two adolescent females dressed in black (or possibly another dark colour) walk across the frame in the opposite direction. The same two girls walk into another long shot where they stop at a broad tree stump, where Mary puts her foot up on the stump to rest for an instant and then moves around it and sits on the edge, her more energetic friend runs off after pointing at something off screen and picking a ball up off the ground, leaving troubled and sluggish Mary behind. A medium close-up depicts Mary looking unhappy and preoccupied as she fiddles with her breast pocket and continues to sit, meanwhile the narrator talks about the changes that are occurring in her body.

Over the next sequence of shots the narrator compares the stages of a human females growth to that of chickens and other animals.

The shot cross-fades into a slightly high angle shot of a small farmyard where a cow (too dark to say conclusively) and some chickens are roaming about together for a brief moment. 30 or so newly hatched chicks are briefly shown moving around in a box or possibly a corner of a chicken coop. Fiver or six pullets and cockerels are then shown moving around in their coop from an off-centre, top down view. Twelve or so fully grown adult fowls are then shown in their coop.

The narrator then draws a comparison between the development of adolescent females and calves.

On some grass, we see a black and white calf side on, facing left, more or less in the centre of the frame, it stands against a stone wall made with irregular shapes stones- it flicks its ear back and raises its front left leg up for a moment.
In a field, on a slight hill with trees in the background, seven heifers are framed in a long shot walking towards the camera.
A medium shot shows four or so full grown cows walking from the right of the frame to the left, alongside a wire fence and some shrubs- a building can be seen in the distance.

The voice of the narrator then repeats the stages of physical development, this time with humans

A "barn doors" style transition edit is used between the previous shot and this one, where we see a baby being pushed in a pram towards the camera by its mother on the pavement of a fairly rural looking area.
The barn doors effect is used again where the exact same shot is repeated except the baby and mother are replaced by six or so boys and girls running towards the camera, all aged around five or so- boys in shorts and the girls in skirts.
The barn doors effect is used once more and the shot is repeated, this time with a fully grown man (dark suit and tie) and women (a jacket and skirt, just bellow the knee) who links arms and smiles as they walk towards the camera.
The previous shot cross fades into a long shot of three female adolescents at the edge of a lake, readying themselves to go into the water to swim - in the background there are adolescents of both sexes playing a game involving a ball being thrown to each other, possibly piggy in the middle, they are joined by three more females, including Mary- a building, a bench and the edge of a small boat are also visible in the background.
A slightly low angle close up of Mary in a bathing costume, framed centrally from the shoulders upwards, she turns her head to the right and smiles against a grey or white sky as she is introduced by the narrator again.
A panning from right-to-left long shot shows an adult female dressed in a two piece swimming costume adjusting the strap of her swimming cap as she walks along the narrow jetty, in the background some adolescent girls are sitting splashing the water with their legs whilst others stand around until they fall out of frame.

The narrator stresses that growing up doesn’t happen over night and that it’s a gradual process.

An adolescent female in a dark once-piece swimming costume moves towards the left of the frame in a slightly low angle medium close up as she tucks her hair into the swimming cap- she is framed against the tops of nearby trees.

The same girl walks across the jetty described two shots prior, the same girls are stood around as before, this time looking quite interested, one has a towel around her shoulders- she prepares to jump framed in the same way with the same camera movement following the walk, she moves her arms into a diving position and jumps into the water and out of frame- the camera holds its position as another female of older than the first walks into shot, stands in the same spot and jumps in feet first with holding her nose.

During that shot the narrator explaining that menstruation is likely to occur between the ages of 11 and 15, with each of the diving girls corresponding to those ages

A star transition is used to link the previous shot with this one as we see a fidgeting baby wrapped in many layers of white clothing is being lifted out of the pram and above the head of its mother whilst the camera follows the action before being lowered down to face level and the mother heads towards the left of the frame.
A swipe from right to left brings in the next shot where we are taken back to the farmyard, this time with a wider shot of ten or so hens milling around. A single hen is being observed by a high angle shot as it walks around its nest box area, inside its coop. Followed by a shot of a nest which has been built into some ground vegetation or other, first with an egg and then with a squirming chick inside. A frog sits on the right of the frame with its back to mass of frog spawn wobbling gently with the current. Extreme close-up of the frog spawn, as the narrator explains that the structure of the egg protects it during its development. The narrator goes on to draw the distinction between egg laying creatures (like reptiles) and humans, as we see a newly born calf with its mother trying to help it to stand and then a shot of the same baby that was lifted out of the pram being lowered back into it, it maintains the same framing as before.

Into the next shot with an iris out, where we see a hand painted diagram of a baby within the womb with its head facing downwards, there is a silhouette of a spinal column and pelvis also visible but with less emphasis- the narrator draws a parallel between the womb and an animals egg. We briefly see a maternity ward where nurses are carrying babies from a rack of six or so babies to the other side of the room. Returning to the jetty of the previous shots, an adolescent dips her toe in the water to gauge the temperature, removes the towel from around her shoulders and adjusts the cap on her head. The previous shot fades into a dark cartoon silhouette of the same girl frozen in the moment of her adjusting her cap against a painted cloud backdrop. The camera moves slightly to the right to accommodate the silhouette of Mary that appears to the right of the previous girl, while the narrator notes the changes in her hips and breasts. The camera moves to the right again to accommodate a silhouette of a 15 year old, with the narrator commenting on how these features are almost complete in their development as the camera zooms in to the waist area of the 15 year old where we see a vague skeletal outline. This shot has a more detailed diagram of the 15 year olds reproductive organs and corresponding labels flash up for the uterus, the ovaries, the fallopian tubes whilst the narration details the journey of the egg from the ovaries to the uterus. It zooms out slightly where a drawing of a baby is now shown within the womb at various stages of growth if conditions of fertilisation have been met. The narrator then explains that if the egg is not fertilised then it passes out of the uterus and then out of the vagina along with the lining of the uterus, which is accompanied by a basic animation. The journey of a fertilised egg is repeated and animated once more, including drawings of the baby at various stages of growth. A wider shot then reiterates what will happen if the egg is not fertilised, along with a basic animation of the walls of the uterus leaving via the vagina. The camera zooms back out to the three silhouette figures against the same background.

A long shot outside in a leafy area, possibly a school, five adolescent girls in school uniform make their way through a broad gate towards the camera, followed by many more older girls on bicycles who head in different directions, while the narrator explains that exact timings to do with the onset of menstruation can vary slightly from person to person.
Two girls of the group, both carrying school bags that resemble small suitcases, walk into frame from the left, after a few steps, one turns into the gate of her large home and he friend carries on after a silent goodbye, the camera centres on the first girl as she goes up the path, the narrator stresses that periods are not an illness and that it is a natural process.

Mary walks in through the doorway of her bedroom, she walks to and sits on the bed where the camera keeps her cantered, she takes off her hat, her coat and removes her diary from her school bag, within her room we see a lampshade, a wardrobe, a chest of draws and a soft toy or teddy.
An off centre over the (right) shoulder shot shows Mary ticking the dates where she expects her period to occur. We then see a much wider shot from her right side as she continues to mark off dates in her diary sat on her bed. It cuts to an over the shoulder style shot again as we see her circling the corresponding dates in her diary but this time with the month view at the beginning of the diary. It cuts to a high angle of shot of Mary, head on, still sat on the bed as she packs the diary and her pencil back into her bag, the camera follows as she slides off the bed and on to her knees as she pulls out the bottom draw to look for her sanitary pads the narrator explains that the purpose of the pad is to avoid soiling her clothes.

A close up over the shoulder / point of view shot continues the action of her rummaging in her collection of pads, she selects one but more continue to disappear in a stop animation style until most are gone, while the narrator insists that they must be changed frequently when worn. A lit domestic fireplace fills the frame while a hand from the left of the screen throws a soiled pad wrapped in newspaper onto the fire, as the narrator recommends it as a disposal method. From a side on medium close-up Mary drops the soiled pad into a sanitary towel / pad receptacle fixed to the wall and lowers her hands into a white ceramic sink to wash her hands as the narrator advises that this is also a reasonable way to dispose of them. Next we see Mary in a medium long shot of a shop interior (possibly a textiles shop) where Mary is selecting a packet of size "O" pads (according to the narrator), after the shop assistant brings her over her choice, Mary's mother remains seated on the right side of the frame and helps he choose. There is a slightly high angle close-up of the three packs on the table, with the label being removed from the pack on the left and the remaining two being picked. The shot changes back to the wide, where we see the shop assistant returns the two packs to the stack on her right as Mary spots some unidentified packet. Close-up Mary's unidentified packet which is possibly the sanitary belt mentioned in the narration. The shot returns to the wide, and Mary puts the pad down on the counter, and while the shop assistant writes out a receipt Mary's mother (sat just out of frame) lifts up the smaller packet for a moment and then Mary puts it into her bag and it cuts as she loads in the bigger packet of pads into her wool knit style bag. A close up of the shop doorway from outside the shop as they both leave, Mary and her mother are both wearing beige or light coloured overcoats, with Mary's mother leading the way as Mary turns and waves back into the shop doorway for a moment- as they exit the shot to the right of the frame, a "CLOSED" sign goes up on the shop window. A long shot of Mary and her mother from behind walking along the pavement for a few steps, Mary's mother crosses the road (after Mary hands a bag back to her) and exits the frame on the right as Mary skips off in to the distance with her friend who is dressed either in a dark dress or overcoat, fade to black.

Over this sequence the narrator states the importance of washing during your period.
Light fills the edges of the shot as a marry walks away from an extreme close up of the back of her head towards her bath and sink, where she lays down what looks like a towel on a wooden stool in front of her bathroom sink before turning to the bath on the right of the frame. Cutting to a tighter shot Mary is slightly leading over the edge of the bath fiddling with the water for a few moments before she stands, turns to face the left edge of the frame and begins to undo her dress or dressing gown. Fading into this medium close up-shot, we see Mary with a towel around her shoulders as she shakes talc out of a bottle onto a cloth. In a close-up the bottle of talc is returned to the shelf where it was kept, her hand reaching in from the right of the frame, she picks up a small tub of "boracic?" ointment or cold cream as referred to in the narration. Iris out into a shot of a living room, with a fireplace in the centre of the frame, Mary's mother sat in an arm chair on the left of the frame and on the right, Mary sat on the floor dressed in pyjamas, leaning back against an armchair- the camera zooms into her reading her book, she looks up and smiles then continues to read. The camera cuts to an angle slightly behind Mary, who can be seen to be barefoot, feet towards the fire- to the left of the frame the fire is stoked by her mother while Mary rolls up a ball of wool. Returning to the wide shot previous, Mary continues the action of winding up the ball of wall and puts it down, she then tucks her feet into her slippers, stands and cuddles / hugs and kisses her mother goodnight as the camera pans and follows the action- Mary walks towards the camera until the frame is blacked out. For a split second we see a side on view of Mary seated at a kitchen table. We see the action of her raising a glass of water to her lips continued in this high angle, slightly over the shoulder shot, after drinking she lowers the glass back to the table, a loaf of bread appears on the table stop animation styles. Cutting to an angle over her other shoulder, Mary touches the bread briefly before a small plate of fruit, possibly apples appears in the same way the bread did, Mary picks up the fruit and raises it to her mouth. As it cuts to the front of her we see a large plate of vegetables on the table that were not in the previous shot. Throughout that food sequence, the narrator offers advice on what should be eaten to avoid constipation.

An anonymous grey street corner, covered in puddles and pot holes, Mary is in school uniform with he school bag and runs into frame from behind a corner, kicks her feet through a puddle as she runs toward the right of the camera, as the narrator explains that getting your feet wet can lead to getting a chill. The screen wipes into a new close up of Mary feet as she sit on the edge of the bed removing her white socks and then wiping her feet with a cloth, she then reaches into the chest of draws on the right of the frame and produces a pair of new white socks and puts them on her feet- the camera zooming out from the start of the shot to the finish.

The previous shot fades into a shot of Mary, with her back to the camera, leaning over a ceramic sink as she washes her hair with a towel wrapped over her back. At the edge of a lake, a young girl is running across the jetty towards the land- a small boat, possibly a canoe is foreground. Five or so boys and girls in swimwear are playing near a stone set of steps, but then disperse and leave the frame when Mary and her friend come down the steps, during this Mary's friend removes her overcoat, revealing her swimming costume and gives her coat or jacket to Mary as she puts her swimming cap on, they wave goodbye to each other and Mary takes the narrators advice about not swimming. Over the shoulder of a playing violinist we see a roomful of young adults dancing in pairs for a few steps. A long shot follows the action of three school girls cycling up a street from left to right, cutting as they pass the camera. A long shot shows a field full of school girls playing hockey, across a few cuts the ball is hit back and fourth. Ten or so girls are stood around chatting outside a building as they drink hot drinks taken from inside. A few children sit at the edge of wooden platform at the waters edge kicking and splashing the water, as the camera pans up we see Mary and her friend walk across the jetty, and one of them (possibly her friend) jumps in will the help of a little push, as the narrator explains that you can resume swimming when the period is finished and that you should feel your normal self. Close up of the splash made by the diver, fade to black. "THE END" and "The Film Producers Guild" are displayed over black.


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