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DATE: 1942

LENGTH: 9 min

CATEGORY: Educational & Instructional, Sound, Black & White

DIRECTOR: Owen Murphy

PRODUCER/PUBLISHER: Sound Masters with United States Public Health Service


Fight Syphilis was designed to educate military personnel and the civilian public about the problem of syphilis, as a part of the war mobilization effort. Idiosyncratic, but fairly well-produced, the film tries to orchestrate the emotions of viewers, beginning with a tale of a syphilis-ravaged World War I veteran “struck by an enemy in the blood,” a darkly moody score, and over-the-top scenes that try to scare the viewer into avoiding sexual contact that could lead to infection, and to consult a legitimate physician for diagnosis and treatment of existing problems.

Supplementary Materials

Stills from Fight Syphilis

Other Films Featured in the Essay

Explore thirteen films considered in the “Public Health Films Go to War” essay.

In the Collections of the National Library of Medicine

Prints & Photographs Collection

These posters, produced by or for the U.S. military in conjunction with campaigns that also employed films, come from the Prints and Photographs collection of the National Library. Explore these and more from the NLM’s Images in the History of Medicine.

Posted by:Carrissa Lindmark

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