Running time: 14m 06s
Source film: 16mm; color; sound
Film by: Ruth C. Engs, George W. Hales, Rowell Gorman, David J. Derkacy
Production: School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Indiana University
Educational Consultants: Ruth C. Engs, Ralph V. Larsson, David A. DeCoster, Phiip McPheron
Special Acknowledgements: Slaigers Pretense Theatre, Inc.
Film supported in part by a grant from: Beer Distributors of Indiana, Inc.
If there’s a maximum age at which we cease to learn concepts communicated by animated characters with funny voices, I haven’t seen it published anywhere. The 1977 educational film Booze and Yous, produced by Indiana University as part of an alcohol education program, sought to impart research-based facts about alcohol and its consumption upon its student body through a mixture of animation and live-action scenarios. The first step in doing this successfully may have been to use a caricature that resonated with the common 1970s college student — Ozzy Osbourne, anyone? — but the filmmakers decided on a rough facsimile of W.C. Fields, complete with red nose and an impression of his exaggerated drawl. Somehow, it works.
During much of his show business career, Fields was a drinker, a trait that was very much a part of his on-screen persona. This makes the caricature’s instructive and cautionary words about alcohol consumption an interesting and frequently entertaining fit. (The “Fields” intonation on the word “booze” is positively magical). His narration first describes the various cultural contexts in which alcohol has been consumed over human history, before noting the different chemical processes that yield the three main types of booze: wine, beer, and liquor. The film points out alcohol’s physiological effects as a depressant before settling in for the main event: the abuse of alcohol and its various manifestations, and how to drink responsibly.
Submitted for our edu-tainment are your garden variety moments of stupid drunken behavior: a woman who doesn’t know her limits and vomits in the middle of a party; a macho show-off who chugs a bottle of liquor and gets an emergency ambulance ride; an amorous couple that throws caution to the wind and ends up pregnant; and a drunk who lights the bulletin board outside his resident advisor’s dorm room aflame for laughs. Missing from these highlights are the far more serious consequences of drunk driving accidents, bar fights, cirrhosis of the liver, and embarrassing late-night phone calls to one’s exes. There are only so many scenarios a 14-minute film can cover.
The closing credit sequence is devoid of conventional production credits, instead lumping its creators in together with an ambiguous “film by” line that offers no clues about who did what. A cursory online search of each name hints that Derkacy and Hales may have contributed to the photography, and Engs is likely to have written it given her academic credentials. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Sadly, there are no credits associated with the crude but enjoyable animations, the various on-screen drinkers, or the Fields-esque voice narrator. Though, given the extremely low budget, it’s a minor miracle that there were any end credits at all.
The film was originally produced as one of several components in an alcohol awareness program created by the Alcohol Education Task Force at IU in the mid-1970s.
- The Drinking Behavior of College Students and Cognitive Effects of a Voluntary Alcohol Education Program (Ruth C. Engs, David DeCoster, Ralph V. Larson, and Philip McPheron)
- A Place For Film – Discussing The Underground Film Series (Andy Hunsucker, Indiana Public Media) — discussion begins at -19:12
- The Whole College Catalog About Drinking (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)