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«The Reward of Courage (1921) A rediscovered cancer film of the Silent Era David Cantor, PhD Office of History, National Institutes of Health ...»

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The connection between cancer education and venereal disease education is also evident elsewhere. In South Dakota, for example, the State Board of Health’s Division of Education and Publicity was an outgrowth of the effort begun by the Division of Venereal Disease Control in the spring of 1920. One of the first actions of the new Division of Education and Publicity was to purchase some public health education films including The Reward of Courage. M.C.

Haecker, Director, “Report. Division of Education and Publicity,” Fifth Biennial Report of the South Dakota State Board of Health (July 1, 1920 to June 30, 1922), 55–63, esp. p. 57. More generally on anti-venereal disease campaigns see Allan M. Brandt, No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

Osborne, “A Health Exhibit for Men,” 28. For anti-quack warnings, see also Osborne, “Venereal Disease Control in the Oranges,” 558.

Osborne, The Control of Venereal Diseases, 3.

Osborne, “Education of the Public in Social Hygiene,” 95.

Osborne, “Education of the Public in Social Hygiene,” 97. For a discussion of British medical conceptions of the public see David Cantor, “Representing ‘The Public’: Medicine, Charity and Emotion in Twentieth-Century Britain.” In Medicine, Health and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1600–2000, ed. Steve Sturdy (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), 145–68.

Gardner, Early Detection. Keith Wailoo, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Frank J. Osborne, “Good News of a Bad Subject,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 2, 8 (August 1920): [3–4].

“Dr. Charles A. Powers Drops Dead in Club,” New York Times, December 24, 1922, 17. Ellsworth Eliot, “Charles Andrew Powers,” Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics 51 (1930): 424-28. “Charles A. Powers.” In Encyclopedia of Biography of Colorado; History of Colorado, William N. Byers (Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Company, 1901), 433–34.

This was not the first Cancer Week. The Cancer Control Committee of the Ohio State Medical Association had organized a Cancer Week in April 1920 modeled on earlier “Health Weeks” organized in some cities and states. “The Campaign in Ohio,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 1, 20 (December, 1919): [4]. “How Ohio is Developing its Campaign,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 2, 1 (January 1920): [2–3]. On Harding’s support, which came shortly after the week was over, see “Letter from President Harding,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 11 (November 1921): [1].

“Announcement of the Plans and Organization of the National Cancer Week.

October 30 – November 5, 1921,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 7 (July 1921): [1–4].

“Mississippi Organization,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 8 (August 1921): [3–4].

See Table 2.

Pamphlets included American Society for the Control of Cancer, What Are You Going to Do About It? (New York: American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921). American Society for the Control of Cancer, Fighting Cancer with Facts (New York: American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921). American Society for the Control of Cancer, The Prevention and Cure of Cancer. The Responsibility of Physicians in the Campaign Against Cancer (New York: American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921). American Society for the Control of Cancer, Vital Facts About Cancer (New York: American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921). What We Know About Cancer: A Handbook for the Medical Profession, prepared by a committee of the American Society for the Control of Cancer, and published jointly by the American Society for the Control of Cancer and the Council on Health and Public Instruction of the American Medical Association (Chicago: American Medical Association, 1918). What Everyone Should Know about Cancer, and Lakeman, “How the Public Health Nurse Can Help to Control Cancer.” On their use, see for example “Mississippi Organization.” On Posters, see “Some Unique Publicity Methods,” Campaign Notes of the American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 12 (December 1922): [2].

See Table 2.

See Table 2.

“Some Unique Publicity Methods.” “Methods Developed During Cancer Week,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 11 (November 1921): [2].

“Methods Developed During Cancer Week.” “Nebraska,” Campaign Notes.

American Society for the Control of Cancer 4, 1 (January 1922): [2].

“Methods Developed During Cancer Week.” “Nebraska.” Martin S. Pernick, “Thomas Edison’s Tuberculosis Films: Mass Media and Health Propaganda,” Hastings Center Report 8, 3 (June 1978): 21–27; Martin S.

Pernick, The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of “Defective” Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures since 1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). Martin S. Pernick, “More than Illustrations: Early Twentieth-Century Health Films as Contributors to the Histories of Medicine and of Motion Pictures.” In Medicine’s Moving Pictures. Medicine, Health, and Bodies in American Film and Television, ed. Leslie J. Reagan, Nancy Tomes and Paula A. Treichler (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007), 19–35.





Miriam Posner, “Communicating Disease: Tuberculosis, Narrative, and Social Order in Thomas Edison’s Red Cross Seal Films.” In Learning with the Lights Off.

Educational Film in the United States, ed. Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron and Dan Streible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 90–106. Stacie A.

Colwell, “The End of the Road: Gender, the Dissemination of Knowledge, and the American Campaign Against Venereal Disease during World War I,” Camera Obscura, 29 (May 1992): 91–129. Susan E. Lederer and Naomi Rogers, “Media.” In Medicine in the Twentieth Century, ed. Roger Cooter and John Pickstone (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 2000), 487–502. Lisa Cartwright, Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). Adolf Nichtenhauser, “A History of Motion Pictures in Medicine” (unpublished book MS, ca. 1950), Adolf Nichtenhauser History of Motion Pictures in Medicine Collection, MS C 380, Archives and Modern Manuscripts Program, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md. For contemporary discussions of the post-war use of film including in public health see also Leslie Willis Sprague, “Motion Pictures in Public Health,” Modern Medicine New Series, 1, 4 (August 1919): 330–32. Leslie Willis Sprague, “Uses of Motion Pictures in Industrial Medicine,” Modern Medicine New Series, 1, 5 (September 1919): 396–98. Leslie Willis Sprague, “Uses of Motion Pictures in Industrial Diseases,” Modern Medicine New Series, 1, 6 (October 1919): 496–98.

F.J. Osborne to Mrs. Mead, March 2, 1921, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Archives, Series III, Box 5, Folder: “American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921-23,” Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

(Hereafter Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Archives). On Osborne’s earlier advocacy of the use of film in public health education see Osborne, “Education of the Public in Social Hygiene,” 95.

On this scrapbook, see David Cantor, “Between Movies, Markets, and Medicine: The Eastern Film Corporation, Frank A. Tichenor, and Medical and Health Films in the 1920s” (paper presented at the conference Communicating Good Health: Movies, Medicine, and the Cultures of Risk in the Twentieth Century, Fondation Brocher, Hermance, Switzerland, May 26–27, 2011).

Osborne to Mead, March 2, 1921.

Cantor, “Between Movies, Markets, and Medicine.” This is a correction to the figure presented in David Cantor, “Uncertain Enthusiasm: The American Cancer Society, Public Education, and the Problems of the Movie, 1921–1960,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 81 (2007): 39–69, pp. 42–43. There I stated incorrectly that the cost of The Reward of Courage was $8,500. The $8,000 was to cover the costs of both medical and public films, the public education film estimated at $2,500, the medical film at $3,500, and the remainder covering production of prints, shipping cases, reels and film containers. Osborne noted that Tichenor billed the ASCC $2,500 for The Reward of Courage, less than the (undisclosed) cost of production. Osborne to Mead, March 2, 1921 and F. J. Osborne to W. S. Richardson, July 29, 1921, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Archives, Series III, Box 5, Folder: “American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921–23.” More generally on the Rockefeller donation see: “The Rockefeller Gift,” Campaign Notes. American Society for the Control of Cancer 3, 5 (May, 1921): [2–3].

Efforts to produce the medical film were threatened in December 1921 when the ASCC realized that the costs of the Cancer Week outstripped resources. Mrs.

Robert G. Mead, the Chair of the Finance Committee, began to think of the unused Rockefeller money for the medical film as a loan to take care of these unforeseen expenses. However, plans to redirect the money were scuttled, and Mead was forced to appeal to the Rockefeller Foundation for an additional $7,500 to make up the Cancer Week deficiency. Mrs. Robert G. Mead to W.S.

Richardson, 3 December 1921, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Archives, Series III, Box 5, Folder: “American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921–23.” In January 1923, Osborne reported that a scenario for the medical movie had begun, but I have found no evidence that anything happened after then. A second movie — A Fortunate Accident — was released by the ASCC in 1925, but this was targeted at the public not the medical profession. F.J. Osborne to W.S.

Richardson, January 25, 1923, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Archives, Series III, Box 5, Folder: “American Society for the Control of Cancer, 1921–23.” Although The Reward of Courage was the first public health education film about cancer, the proposed medical movie — if it was ever made — would not have been the first motion picture about cancer directed towards a medical and surgical audience. A film called The Cancer Problem was shown by Dr. J.M.

Martin (Professor of Electro-Therapeutics and X-Ray Methods, Medical Department of Baylor University and State Dental College; Radiographer to Baptist Memorial Sanitarium, Dallas, Texas) at the 13th annual meeting of the Medical Association of the Southwest at Dallas, Texas, October 16, 1918.

“Coming Meeting of the Medical Association of the South-West,” Medical Insurance and Health Conservation 27 (1917–18): 510–11, p. 511. J.М. Martin, “The Cancer Problem,” Southwest Journal of Medicine and Surgery 27 (1919):

34–36. This last article states that the film was 1,240 ft., and reproduced some frames from it. Martin also showed it at the “Twenty-First Annual Meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society,” American Journal of Roentgenology 7 (1920): 513-16, p. 515. “Flashes on the World’s Screen,” Educational Film Magazine 4, 5 (November 1920): 20. For another medical film of a cancer operation at Bellevue Hospital by Legend Film Productions see “Cancer Operation Filmed in Detail”, Educational Film Magazine 5, 1 (January 1921): 13.

For examples of Eastern’s efforts to portray itself as a maker of quality films see the advertisements that coincided with the National Cancer Week, “Films of Quality Solve the Problem of Distribution,” Moving Picture Age 4, 10 (October 1921): 33 “Films of Quality Solve the Problem of Distribution,” Moving Picture

Age 4, 11 (November 1921): 22. Note that the advertisements include the offer:

“A list of our clients of National reputation furnished on request to those interested.” Osborne to Mead, March 2, 1921.

Shortly before the launch of the Cancer Week, The Reward of Courage was shown at the Cincinnati Health Exposition, October 15–22, 1921, see Bleecker Marquette, “The Cincinnati Health Exposition,” University of Cincinnati Medical Bulletin 1, 3 (February 1922): 3–23, p. 21.

For a detailed description of the film’s narrative see “The Reward of Courage,” Educational Film Magazine 6, 6 (December 1921): 11. This description includes some scenes which do not appear in the NLM’s version of the film. These missing scenes include: 1) scene(s) in which Dorothy takes great interest in the clinic, and helps Gene to develop it; and 2) scene(s) in which Anna secures from Miss Keene a list of Marshall’s employees with cancer, following a request for this list from Morris Maxwell — it is at this meeting with Miss Keene that Anna tells her about the lump she has discovered on her breast. This last scene appears to be a prelude to the breast examination scene in the NLM version. It is a puzzle why this account suggests that Anna secures this list. In the NLM version of the film, Marshall informs Maxwell that some of his employees have cancer, and tells him that Dr. Dale can furnish the names. Did Dale refuse to provide the list, was Maxwell cautious in approaching him, or was the list a pretext for Anna to get an examination? It is unknown whether these additional scenes were part of the original version released in 1921 and cut from the NLM’s copy (printed in 1925, see below), or whether they were a figment of the reviewer’s imagination.

Everett S. Lain, “State-Wide Cancer Campaign — February 15th to March 15th,” Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 17 (1924): 53–54, p.

54.

American Society for the Control of Cancer, Vital Facts About Cancer, 2.

“What Everyone Should Know about Cancer,” 38.

American Society for the Control of Cancer, Vital Facts About Cancer, 2.

Emphasis in the original.

An opening intertitle labels the company the Pleasantville Accessories Company; the telegram concerning Maxwell is addressed to the Pleasantville Accessories Supply Company.

Thorstein Bunde Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (New York: Kelley, 1965), esp. 27. First published 1899.

On the role of clinics in Progressive-era health reform see Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry (New York: Basic Books, 1982), 191–92.



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