Thursday, March 29, 2007

Boys Beware - the Sid Davis Collection

There seems to be growing interest in the works of Sid Davis, who with the assistance of the Inglewood, Colorado, Police Department created a number of paranoid cautionary films in the late 1950s and 1960s to instill fear in the hearts of all children who encountered anyone unfamiliar. Besides perpetuating that only unfamiliar people are predators and pedophiles (as opposed to family members, neighbors, etc.), his over the top “Boys Beware” promotes some pretty noxious myths about men who prefer the company of men. Though one claim that “not all homosexuals are passive” is accurate but not exactly in the context that Mr. Davis meant.

Each little film is a creepy tale that begins with almost dulcet tunes that turn increasingly sinister as danger lurks closer to the kids. It seems that the common thread in all of these films is to write down the license number of the suspected pervert. Makes me wonder how many kids reported perfectly innocent adults that pissed them off.

Perhaps someday there will be a Criterion worthy release of his films with accompanying analysis of them scene by scene. He does actually succeed in making those strangers seem mighty darn spooky, and it makes me wonder what the back story is on the actors, their motivation and what happened to the kids who played the hapless victims. I have to admit that the re-enactments give me a pit in the stomach as the kids get into cars with those dangerous looking strangers.

There’s no telling how much good or bad these films ultimately did, but I am sure they played some role in convincing plenty of kids – and, ever more likely, adults – that all homosexual men are pedophiles. Ultimately it's all pretty spooky and sad and makes me have greater sympathy for any parent.


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