Last month, legendary safety film producer Sid Davis died of lung cancer at age 90. If you were in school between the 1950s and 1980s you might have seen his cautionary films, with names like Keep Off The Grass, What Made Sammy Speed?, ABCs of Walking Wisely and the joined-at-the-moral-hip pair of films, Boys Beware/Girls Beware.
Author Ken Smith, in his comprehensive book on school safety films (Mental Hygiene), called Davis' film style "trancelike ... stripped of anything even remotely approaching drama or human emotion", due mostly to Davis' rock-bottom film budgets and inexperienced acting pool.
Thanks to YouTube and the Prelinger Archives, you can enjoy a retrospective of Sid Davis' cautionary career. The following films, taken from a list in Mental Hygiene of Davis' best work, are available for download and streaming from archive.org, or available for viewing at YouTube.
Alcohol Is Dynamite (YouTube link) -- Two underage teens ask an adult to buy them some liquor, but they end up getting a ten-minute Sid Davis lecture on the perils of alcohol.
Big Man on Campus (archive.org link) -- Meet Jerry Warner, a misfit who thinks the entire school is laughing at him, which causes him to flaunt the rules and behave in a generaly antisocial manner. "That's the way to be: somebody, rather than nobody."
Boys Beware (YouTube link) -- Jimmy Barnes makes a new friend. "What Jimmy didn't know was that Ralph was sick. A sickness that was not visible like smallpox, but no less dangerous and contagious... You see, Ralph was a homosexual."
Keep Off the Grass (archive.org link) -- A cleverly titled warning against smoking dope, it ends with the immortal question, "Who needs a grass crutch?"
Live and Learn (archive.org link) -- Probably Sid Davis' best/worst film, it's basically a string of misfortunes calculated to keep kids on the straight and narrow. That's Sid Davis' daughter Jill who learns too late that you should never run with scissors.
Name Unknown (YouTube link) -- "Teenagers can be such suckers! ... For what? A kick? Or a fling? A thrill? You think you're smart enough to get away with it!" In Sid Davis' world, of course, they don't.
The Terrible Truth (YouTube link) -- In which we learn the innovative theory that the Soviets are promoting US drug traffic, to "undermine national morale".
What Made Sammy Speed? (YouTube link) -- Hint: he was trying to impress his friends. Always a bad idea in Sid Davis land.