Film: 8383

Social History | 1930 | Sound | B/W


Malnutrition and poverty in Britain 1930's

Man at desk, Julian Huxley, talking to camera - refers to 'earlier in this film', so this must be incomplete. Close-up of same suited and bespectacled man, talking about classification of foods.

Text labels showing 'Energy Foods - Carbohydrates and Fats'. Same, now showing samples of these, below - labels pop onto the screen, identifying them - potatoes, margarine, &c.
Text labels: 'Body-building Foods - Animal Proteins'. Same with samples below - labels pop onto screen identifying them - milk, eggs, cheese, &c.
Text labels showing 'Protective Foods - Minerals & Vitamins' - these are said to have been 'only recently discovered.' Same with samples below - labels pop onto screen identifying them as sources rich in these substances - milk, eggs, green vegetables, &c.; voiceover describes function of these substances.
Market scene - a stout woman in an apron, hat and overcoat - a boy behind her - inspecting vegetables at a market stall; shop fronts visible behind, also three newspaper placards - illegible.
A woman in a cloche hat and a floral dress, with a basket on her wrist, is served at a market stall by a man in a double-breasted white tunic; women pass behind, one with two children in a pram; fade.
Graphic showing 'Weekly Money for Food'; at left is a purse showing '4/-', at right 4 1/2 human figures, and text saying '4 1/2 million people, 10% of population'; the 4/- is their average spending per head.
Similar graphic, showing that 9 1/2 million people, or 20% of the population, spend average 6/-. Similar graphic showing another 9 million spending 8/- a head.
Similar graphic showing another 9 million spending 10/- a head.
Similar graphic showing another 9 million spending 12/- a head.
Similar graphic showing 4 1/2 million (10%) spending 14/- a head.
Combined graphic representing all six bands.
Voiceover says we will look at how consumption of bread and milk changes as we pass through these bands; a woman in hat and coat places a wide-topped milk bottle in her shopping bag as she leaves a shop; the bag has a picture of a bull, and what looks like 'Quality Stores'; she leaves pushing her pram, which she has left outside the shop.
Graphic showing, at bottom, '4/- group', at top 'Bread and Milk', and between them a large cottage loaf with '68 oz' and a milk bottle with '1 pint'.
Fade to similar graphic - for the 6/- group it is 68 oz and 2 pints.
Fade to similar graphic - for the 8/- group it is 68 oz and 2 1/2 pints; voiceover querying why bread consumption static but milk consumption rising.
Similar graphic - for 10/- group it is 68 oz and 3 1/4 pints.
Similar graphic - for 12/- group it is 66 oz and 4 1/4 pints; voiceover explains that bread gives you energy and stops you feeling hungry, so lower income households prioritise that, leaving them little for milk, the value of which is less obvious.
Similar graphic for 14/- group - 62 oz and 5 1/2 pints; voiceover says that experts agree that milk consumption - for all - should be at least 7 pints a week.
Moving on to consider vitamins and minerals:
Graphic showing same six bands, with 'Calcium and Iron Deficiencies'; animation on top shows Adequacy level; animation shows steeply slanting graph for Calcium, showing 100% Adequacy for 14/- band, 0% for 4/-; animation shows similar graph for Iron, with 14/- band showing much more than adequacy, but the 14/- band serious deficiency.
Interruption in film. Static shot of last shown graph.
A man enters a room, walking towards us; he looks at a display on a column, where he is joined by a young woman. Fade to a poor street of 2-storey terraced houses, children playing in the street - two with scooters; voiceover talking about incidence of anaemia and the conclusions of Sir John Orr (who had been referred to at the start of the film).
A street market; behind are shops with awnings. Two seated building workers, both in cloth caps, one in braces & shirtsleeves, the other in a waistcoat, eat bread with a knife; behind is a laden wooden wheelbarrow, and other men's legs.
A street scene as a lorry passes rapidly R to L in front of camera, disclosing shops behind; shop at R has awning; shop at L is a newsagent/tobacconist (M. Pavolo), with price list, newspaper placard, and ads for Craven 'A'; a woman in a pinafore stands in the doorway; several children, including a boy with a scooter, face us from across the street; there are two large cane baskets in the road at R, and appreciable litter in the gutter; a man walks R to L; a lorry and a car pass L to R; pan L down the street - shop called J. Miller Ltd, in front of which is a 4-wheeled barrow, seen from behind, named Smith's Bookstall; there is illegible text on the awning behind; a cluttered shop-front - perhaps a draper's - some material draped over step-ladders at front; in big letters on building behind is 'AND AT 263 CAMBRIDGE ROAD'.
Two women seated at a table covered with a tablecloth, on which are several framed photographs; the older woman on the L, in suit, tie and hat, is interviewing the woman at R, who is hatless and in an apron.
A man and woman seated at a table, a wireless visible on mantelpiece behind; the woman, centre, has a small child on her lap; the man takes notes with a pencil. A seated man in glasses, talking to someone off screen L; voiceover introduces him as Dr McGonigle, Medical Officer of Health in Stockton-on-Tees. The man he is speaking to - Dr Boreham, MOH in the London Borough of Bethnal Green. The two men talking, a desk in foreground. Boreham tells McGonigle of his findings in Bethnal Green: that milk consumption average is less than half that of the country as a whole, and butter less than a third. McGonigle says to remember that the national consumption of milk & butter is itself too low; he's been looking at spending patterns in his district. Boreham listens.
The woman with a child, seen earlier, replying to an interview question - her reply is inaudible. The man asks her how often she has meat. She replies 'Pretty well every day', but (unclear) not always Thursday or Friday.
Man interviewing another woman - asks her if she can feed her family well enough; she replies - Not very well, Difficult at times - but much inaudible. He asks if she can afford as much fruit & vegetables as she would like; gist of her reply is No, but as before it is not very audible.
Man behind desk recaps that scientists and social workers have shown us what is wrong with the national diet; he says he is the Secretary of the Zoological Society. Close-up as he says that if they gave the gorillas and chimps the sort of diet actually eaten by millions in this country we could rightly be blamed for not keeping them in proper conditions; so let's see what is actually being done about this national problem.
A line of men queuing to R of an Employment Exchange sign; while most are in cloth caps, two of those in the queue are in blazers, ties and flannels, hatless, and smoking cigarettes.
Boys playing football in a school playground; behind them are cricket stumps, and at back a high wall.
Three horses pull a reaping machine R to L, in a field.
A seated man in white coat and white hat milks a cow. Front view of the man milking; role of the Milk Marketing Board.
Two young girls and a boy, all seated, drink milk from small bottles, with straws; reference to subsidies and control of milk production.
Close-up of the middle girl smiling as she drinks; increase in consumption of 78 1/2 million gallons last year. Nine seated children drinking milk through straws - others behind. A man with his arms round two drinking children, takes a suck through a straw from a bottle of his own; voiceover talks of schoolchildren's daily ration of 1/3 pint. Close-up of the man and the two children; he is Walter Elliott, on the first day of the Keep Milk in School scheme. Elliott, standing, surrounded by hundreds of waving children; stage grants make possible much of the work of Maternity and Child Welfare Centres.
Close-up of two women in soft hats or berets, eating; this is the Shoreditch Borough Council centre, in London. Women eating at nicely laid tables with flowers - free midday meals for nursing and expectant mothers with small incomes.
Another view, a woman serving; at L rear is a curtain screen; a painting hangs above a radiator; Birmingham and other places have similar schemes. Four women smile as they eat.
Two uniformed nurses feed under-fives at table in open air. A nurse spoon-feeds a baby in bonnet and bib; first five years are the most important, when foundations are laid.
This is Shoreditch, where free meals are provided for these toddlers; nurse serves five seated children in bibs and bonnets; trellis screen at R, and chimneys behind - looks like we're on the roof.
Nurse spoon-feeding two children.
Nine seated children being waited on by two women, indoors; only a few places provide these sorts of services. Two women feeding four seated children.
At a Maternity and Child Welfare Centre, mothers are given training in nutrition - a woman in a white coat stands beside a blackboard; behind her, on the wall, is a large poster of a woman breast-feeding, with the caption 'Nature's Food is Best'. Six attentive women in the class; behind are nutritional charts - 'Food and Calories', 'A Balanced Diet'. Closer view of the dietician teaching the class - she is writing on the board about food groups and good diet. Close-up of the table at the R of the class, on which are trays of foodstuffs grouped by their qualities.
Man in round glasses seated at desk facing us; introduced as Herbert Morrison, leader of the London County Council; he talks to camera about the LCC's fight against malnutrition among elementary school children. As Morrison continues to speak, children enter to sit at tables in dining hall. Children moving among dinner tables; free dinners and milk provided at school for malnourished children. Children in dining hall; 900 elementary schools in LCC area - 490,000 schoolchildren. A boy dinner monitor in an apron sits a small girl at the table. Two girls and a boy, in aprons, serve dinners to seated children; about 6,000 LCC children can't be fed properly at home, because of their parents' poverty. Two boys speaking across a grumpy-looking boy between them, seated among others in dining hall; LCC makes sure these children have at least one good meal every school day. Boy serving. Seated children help themselves to an apple each from off-screen. Pan R to L across seated children in dining hall.
Some malnourished children have to be sent to one of the Council's Special Nutrition Centres, for investigation; children and their mothers seated in a waiting room, a nurse standing at R; a woman enters with a boy, through the door facing us; panning round room; on the back of the door is a sight-test card.
Seated woman in white coat goes over notes with mother and daughter. Two women in white coats, seated separately; a mother with a baby in her arms attends as a young girl, naked to the waist, has her back listened to. Close-up of the girl and the stethoscope. The group of four, as the doctor turns the girl towards us; her chest looks a bit malformed - rickets? Close-up of the girl, shoulders-up, looking round and smiling.
In a room with a dark glazed-brick dado, two topless boys stand by as another in shorts and braces walks in from R, past a doctor, to a strength meter, round which he walks. Close-up of the boy as he mounts the device and pulls on the handles of the meter; there is a routine medical inspection for about 200,000 children; last year 11,000 were found below normal nutritional standards.
As anaemia is one of the commonest results of malnutrition, children's blood samples are taken regularly; a seated boy has his right ear lob pricked by a doctor, while another holds his head still; then she bends down with a mouth pipette on a rubber tube, to take the sample.
Commentary turns to wider field of effort; high level shot of League of Nations complex in Geneva; in November 1935 it had set up a committee to report on nutrition.
People watch a car arrive at the Delegates' Entrance of the League of Nations Building. Signs over the door: 'Assemblée de la Société des Nations' and 'Entrée des Délegues'.
Viscount Astor, the committee chairman, standing, address us; they had identified two principal points: many people are underfed, but there are surplus food supplies in some countries.
Pan across the delegates, towards the platform, in the main assembly chamber.
Astor, to camera - hands in pockets - poverty is the main factor in malnutrition; governments must deal - especially by providing proper and adequate food for children; re agriculture - if people eat enough of the right food there will be no over-supply - indeed farmers all over the world would need to increase output.
Workmen filling large grain sacks, from a chute. A crane lowers a large pallet of wooden boxes (like tea-chests) into a ship's hold.
Man loading hay onto a cart in a field; another man, on the cart, assists; Astor says a wise nutrition policy will help to restore world trade, so will be an important factor in the preservation of peace. Closer shot of the man wielding pitchforks-full of hay to his mate above.
Dr McGonigle addresses us, from behind desk, on the spending of the working-class housewife. Street market stalls, women shopping; behind the stalls are stacks of wicker baskets. A fishmonger wraps three fish in paper, passes them to woman customer at R; a London Transport bus passes R to L behind, revealing behind it a van with 'Barney' on its side, going to R. Above a street display of apples, close-up of a woman's hands as she takes a coin from a purse and hands it to the stall-holder. The woman doing something with her purse, as McGonigle's voiceover says research has shown that as income increases people's diets improve. McGonigle talking to camera about the hundreds of thousands of housewives who can only afford lower-grade filling food.
A dirty young boy in a coat pulls his little brother in a home-made wooden handcart, apparently in a cart; two girls and a pushchair in background. Small child seated on grass crying; McGonigle says there is thus no starvation, but children's physical development may be interfered with, and their disease resistance lowered.
A toddler in a playpen; two young children beside it. A large group of children sitting on the ground. McGonigle speaks to camera about long-term solution to problem; he appears in reflective mood.
Closer shot of McGonigle talking about what people in higher income bands can do by teaching about diet; recapitulates.
Text labels of food categories; need for balanced diet; milk bottle appears - covers two groups - you should have a pint; also 2 oz butter, green salad, green vegetables, an orange or a tomato; cheese or meat; bread, potatoes, sugar; pastry and scones are cheap sources of energy.
Close-up of the milk bottle; diet just shown is not balanced for growing child - needs more body-building foods, less energy foods; another milk bottle appears. Four potatoes; two disappear. A piece of cake fades to half a piece - less bread and sugar. A pile of sugar fades to a smaller pile. Four cakes become one cake. Two shots of vegetables. An orange and a tomato; a banana - 'the more expensive' - appears between them.
The food groups display - before and after the changes just made.
Two children - one with a doll, the other with a toy pram, beside a playpen; behind is a radiator, enclosed with wire mesh; babies need plenty of milk, and daily cod-liver oil and orange juice. Two children in a pram, out of doors; so does the expectant and nursing mother.
The mothers' lunch, as seen earlier - she should have salad, vegetables and fruit every day. Another shot of the mothers' lunch; should have fish once or twice a week; liver.
Smiling girl carrying fat, crying toddler - pan to three other children facing us. Two boys, one a toddler, eating from plates at table. Older boy eating with knife and fork. Young boy eating with spoon, looks to camera; he reaches his arm out to interfere with the other, and a woman's arm appears, to restrain him; he looks annoyed.
Summing up: chart of Calcium and Iron Deficiencies again.
Two laboratory rats, hands guiding them.
A woman serves food to four seated toddlers. A mother seated round table with five children; vases on mantelpiece behind.
Numerous children in playground; at L is a turning "witches' hat" roundabout, at R long swings - metal chains on stout wooden frames; a girl pushes a toddler in a pushchair.
Close-up of the head of an undernourished boy. The smiling girl we saw earlier (whose chest was being examined).
A montage of publications, including McGonigle's 'Poverty and Public Health', a newspaper article 'Nutrition is All a Matter of Money', an Observer article on 'Food and Life' (Sunday, August 2, ----), 'Millions in Britain are Half Starved. Families' Plight on 35/- a week.'
The women in the nutrition class. Children seated on the ground. First interviewed woman. Second interviewed woman.

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