This essay looks at the film The Birth of a Baby (1938), focusing on the controversy that surrounded its release. The film, in attempting to impart serious medical information in the tradition of educational cinema while still incorporating elements of traditional narrative entertainment, managed to transcend any easy genre classification. Because of this, the film encountered an enormous amount of resistance from forces of censorship not keen on seeing a film with expressed educational goals playing in general movie theaters. The view that movie theaters should be seen primarily as places of entertainment alone had long been dominant, and thus the film offered a direct challenge to this by instigating a debate throughout American society over the nature and purpose of the movie theater screen. By mixing elements of education with narrative entertainment, the film also provides a lens into the changing dynamics of educational cinema during the 1930s.


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pp. 44-57
Launched on MUSE
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