'Alcohol Is Poison!' A 1950s PSA for Teens

A group of friends candidly discuss the risks associated with underage drinking.

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What About Drinking, brought to us by the Prelinger Archive, is an educational film created at the Center of Alcohol Studies at Yale University in 1954. It centers on a group of teenagers, whose party is interrupted with news of a car accident: Bob and Ted hit a pedestrian while driving, and police found a bottle of alcohol in the car. What follows is an honest discussion among friends about underage drinking, with the girls professing more conservative (and religious) views than the boys. Three of the boys discuss the issue with their fathers as well. One father notes, “A drink before bed in the evening is just about the best thing I know of.”

Despite the teenagers’ overacting, the film is actually quite good. It renders the debate over underage drinking (and alcohol consumption in general) as difficult and highly personal. It concludes with an open-ended question to the audience: “What do you think?”

For more from the Prelinger Archive, visit their site

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Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

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