“Not a Hollywood fantasy!” This poster from 1949, eye-catching with bright reds, yellows, and blues and big, bold font was an effort to entice Park City audiences to screenings of the controversial film, Mom and Dad.
Mom and Dad was an “exploitation film,” or one that sought to capitalize on niche, lurid, or taboo content. Its draw was sex. As an article in the Park Record described, Mom and Dad “is a touching and heart-tugging story of youth and the social problems of today.” It told the story – a story this poster claims was lived by thousands of high school girls across the country – of Joan Blake, a teenage girl who becomes pregnant after meeting and being sweet-talked by a handsome young pilot.
Unintended pregnancies amongst teens were certainly an issue, then and now, and the film was marketed as a “sex hygiene” film, theoretically with strong educational value. This repackaging was largely just an effort to circumvent censorship laws.
Mom and Dad was heavily promoted everywhere it was shown, including in Park City, as containing “modern and powerful medical and health sequences dealing with delicate subject matter.” The film, advertisements boasted, was “acclaimed by many universities, colleges, national clubs and organizations, as well as officials of most all churches.”
These claims were mostly a marketing ploy. Producer Kroger Babb was a mastermind behind an aggressive presentation strategy. At each exhibition site around the US, employees of the production company attracted attention by sending in letters to local newspapers or distributing leaflets protesting the content at churches. Sometimes, they would pretend to be mayors or concerned citizens of nearby towns who had also held screenings of the film. These letters would warn of young women affected by the film’s content.
No such letters appeared in the Park Record, but the newspaper did publish reviews, synopses, and still images from the film in the issue preceding the August 5 screenings at the Egyptian Theatre. Additionally, the Egyptian, like most movie theaters throughout the country that presented the movie, segregated showings by gender. As advertised on this local poster, there were two showings for women and girls, and one showing for men and boys.
According to promotional material, local audiences were also treated to lectures by “hygiene commentator” Elliot Forbes during intermission and after the movie. “Nurses available at all shows!” this poster assures, ostensibly to “aid any who faint,” as the paper reported.
It’s not clear from the newspaper whether or not Parkites knew that the esteemed “Elliot Forbes” was off presenting concurrent lectures at other screenings across the country, an impossible feat for any one man. The “fearless commentator” was often just another actor who added to the overall draw of the show. The “nurses,” too, were usually actors.
Despite – or perhaps because of – condemnation by the National Legion of Decency, an organization the reviewed films prior to their distribution to the general public, as well as several legal challenges, the film became one of the highest-grossing of the 1940s.
 Park Record, August 4, 1949
 Eric Schaefer, Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959.