Mom and Dad

date 1945
by William Beaudine, director; Kroger Babb, distributor
medium Press Book

She Shoulda Said No!; 1949
Sam Neufield, director; Kroger Babb, distributor
Press Book

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The promotion of exploitation films could veer toward the absurd. This press release for Mom and Dad and She Shoulda Said No! shamelessly sell the promise of scandalous content. For instance, the press material for Mom and Dad exploits the "shocking" nature of childbirth for American audiences even though the film was essentially producer Kroger Babb’s postwar repackaging of the well-circulated 1935 hygiene film High School Girl. The press book promises that nurses will be on duty in case the site of childbirth causes audience members to swoon. For She Shoulda Said No! , a movie about the perils of marijuana, the press book plays upon adults’ fears by claiming it is a "bold expose of the present-day Marijuana racket among teen-agers," while simultaneously playing up the sexuality of its scantily-clad writer and star, Lila Reeds, the "Kansas blonde-bomb" who shares her own downward spiral into immorality.

However, the educational component of exploitation marketing strategy is still present, as the press book promotes Mom and Dad as "...more than a motion picture—in fact it’s a complete education in Sexual Hygiene." Hoping to maximize the audience, the press book also states, "Mothers and Fathers are urged to bring their teen aged youngsters to see-learn and understand the miracle of birth and other subjects which the average parents find too difficult to explain to their growing boys and girls." Exploitation and education converge in the simple warning that moviegoers should attend because "Ignorance is a sin."

As noted by film scholar Eric Schaefer in his book "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!": A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959, sometimes the marketing of a film became nothing short of a carnival. For instance, Pearce Parkhurst, the director of a drive-in in Lansing, Michigan, won a $500 prize for his over-the-top promotional methods. To market Mom and Dad, he did not simply pass out press books. He also stamped teasers onto all of his outgoing mail, passed out promotional matchbooks, distributed a thousand menus (with the film’s dates) to restaurants, erected a Mom and Dad billboard that counted down the days until the premiere, and created giveaways for ashtrays and pencils. He even invited President Truman, Michigan’s governor, and a senator to the first screening, although none attended. Finally, producer Kroger Babb’s Hygienic Productions paid for a buffet and ceremony for the press and prominent townspeople, at which Babb then received a key to the city. This culminated in a parade, complete with a marching band, which led patrons to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and, finally, the movie’s premiere. Although these films were low budget, with aggressive advertising and exhibition, these films could reap a fortune. For instance, Mom and Dad, which remained in theatrical circulation into the 1970s, grossed over $100 million.