2.7/10
650
19 user 17 critic

Sex Madness (1938)

Not Rated | | Drama | 28 April 1938 (USA)
Philanthropist Paul Lorenz is one of the more public faces in the fight against behavior that spreads the many "social diseases", such as syphilis and gonorrhea. An example of such behavior... See full summary »

Director:

Dwain Esper
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vivian McGill Vivian McGill ... Millicent Hamilton
Rose Tapley ... Mrs. Hamilton
Al Rigali Al Rigali ... Mr. Hamilton
Mark Daniels ... Wendel Hope (as Stanley Barton)
Linda Lee Hill Linda Lee Hill ... Sheila Wayne
Ruth Edell Ruth Edell ... Mrs. Fay
Charles Olcott Charles Olcott ... Paul Lorenz
Ed Redding Ed Redding ... Dr. Hampton
Pat Lawrence Pat Lawrence ... Tom Lorenz
Allen Tower Allen Tower ... Dr. Harris (as Allan Tower)
Richard Bengali Richard Bengali ... Mr. Maynard
William Blake William Blake ... Dr. Grenoble
Frank Howsen Frank Howsen ... Dr. Bayard
Allan Lee Allan Lee ... Mr. Winthrop
Jean Temple Jean Temple ... Mrs. Winthrop
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Storyline

Philanthropist Paul Lorenz is one of the more public faces in the fight against behavior that spreads the many "social diseases", such as syphilis and gonorrhea. An example of such behavior is performing in or attending burlesque shows, which promote casual sex. Indeed, many in the audience at one burlesque show in New York have only sex on their minds, including young unmarried couple James and Jane, office colleagues Peggy and Betty (Peggy is trying to seduce Betty), and Paul Lorenz's own son Tom, who is anticipating an aftershow group-sex party that will include some of the girls from the show, such as Sheila Wayne, who has syphilis but treats it as casually as her sexual encounters. Her fellow showgirl Millicent Hamilton will not be at the party. Millicent was once a small-town girl who was planning to marry her beau, Wendel Hope, until she won a beauty contest. Her prize was a trip to New York, but she found life there more difficult than she expected, and a sexual encounter ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Protect your daughters!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

If two virgins have sex together, even while unmarried, they are not at risk for catching a venereal disease. See more »

Crazy Credits

In versions titled "They Must Be Told" all the opening credits, even the title, are preceded by the following explanation: "FOREWORD: Down through the ages has rushed a menace more dangerous than the worst criminal. Syphilis. Let us seize this monster and stamp out forever its horrible influence. Syphilis must no longer play its deadly part in our lives preventing marriages ... breaking up families ... and resulting in innocent offspring born blind, diseased and maimed ... doomed to a life of misery. The subject of syphilis must no longer remain hushed, but must be fought in the open like any other dangerous contagious disease ... humanity must be enlightened! Ignorance must be abolished! Young and old ... rich and poor ... " See more »

Connections

Featured in American Grindhouse (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Wedding March
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn
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User Reviews

 
They Must Be Told!
20 August 2010 | by sddavis63See all my reviews

A movie like this has to be judged fairly - and that means being judged by the standards of its era. It tackles a subject that in 1938 would have been taboo to pretty much everyone - the scourge of syphilis, and the associated sexual "looseness" that was seen as its cause. Yes, I know that this is considered an "exploitation" film - one dressed up as an educational film in order to get past censors who would have objected to some of the sexual innuendo contained within it. Still, there is no doubt that at one time syphilis was a major health issue, and so this also comes across as something of a "scare tactic" - a way of warning people to avoid sexual immorality lest they contract the terrible disease. Thus, the words "they must be told!" in the opening credits. The first 20-30 minutes or so jump around a little bit. We see a fair bit of a burlesque show attended by a lot of people, some hints of lesbianism as one girl tries to convince another to spend the night with her, "wild" house parties with couples going off together and assorted shots of those wanting to do battle with the disease and the loose morals at the root of it. It then settles down largely to the story of Millicent - a small town girl who went to New York and caught the disease, then returns home and spreads it to her new husband and their child. The tragic results of the disease are portrayed, and the movie then tries to end on a hopeful note.

This isn't a particularly good movie. It drags at times, but I thought the subject matter was worthwhile, and looked at from the perspective of 1938 it was courageous. One can only go so far with courage alone, though. Eventually, you have to judge whether a movie has quality or not. This one fails on that count.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 April 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Human Wreckage See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cinema Service Corp. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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