This film is part of Free
Smoking and You
The anti-smoking campaign starts here, with the first ever anti-tobacco film – and very impressive it is too.
The gradual decline of cigarette smoking is one of the great public health stories of the second half of the twentieth century. Film and TV play a huge role in that story, starting right here with Smoking and You, the very first official screen contribution to decades of health education campaigning. The film, made on a tight budget by the innovative documentary maker Derrick Knight, lays out the facts with an impressive directness, confronting smokers and potential smokers with increasingly devastating information, while montages of hidden-camera footage make smoking look distinctly unattractive.
The film was commissioned in the wake of 1962 Royal College of Physicians report that caused a sea-change in public policy on smoking (though government initially resisted curbs on tobacco advertising, which had much bigger budgets behind it). It went on to wide distribution both in Britain and abroad, where it was sold in to other countries’ public health campaigns. Knight's stark documentary approach contrasts with the breezy wit and stylisation deployed, equally effectively, by Sarah Erulkar in The Smoking Machine (1964, also available on BFI Player). The difference is down not just to the two filmmakers’ different skillsets but their intended audiences: Erulkar was briefed to target kids of primary school age, and Knight children and young adults of secondary school age. The presence of the smoking machine, a mechanical R&D device that 'smokes' numerous cigarettes simultaneously, provides a creepy highlight - or lowlight – of both films.
Documentary 1959 16 mins Location: London
A beautiful and evocative survey of cycling's golden years.
Public Information Filler 1974 1 mins
Typically hard-hitting public information film about the threat posed by combining a rug and a freshly polished floor.
Public Information Filler 1949 1 mins
Another of Richard Massingham’s snappy public information fillers finds the oafish everyman’s personal hygiene in question again.
Government sponsored film 1952 27 mins Location: Wadhurst
Never a dull moment for a rural district nurse in the early days of the NHS.
Public Information Filler 1969 1 mins
New law targets discrimination in housing and employment in this eye-opening public information film.
Documentary 1964 16 mins
Documentary warning children about the drawbacks of cigarettes – not least their addictiveness.
Action and Adventure 1923 28 mins Silent Location: Tilbury
Plotting world domination, Devil Doctor Fu-Manchu steals plans for a new aero-torpedo in this earliest surviving thrill-a-minute serial instalment.
Inside Film 2024 16 mins
Filmmakers Jane Giles and Ali Catterall discuss their documentary Scala!!!, revisiting the legendary and inspirational cinema venue and some of the most notorious films that screened there.
Drama 2023 2 mins
A group of young Black boys run into a building. One of them is about to do the unimaginable.
Romance 2023 2 mins
A queercore romance - a visceral and immersive exploration of the power of the mosh pit and finding love in the most unlikely of places.
Charity appeal 1939 10 mins
Long thought lost, this Powell-directed promotional short for a veteran’s charity was only rediscovered in 2003.
Documentary 1941 6 mins
A poignant, stirring letter from a recently deceased pilot to his mother is read by John Gielgud.