Corporations involved in medical filmmaking include pharmaceutical manufacturers, makers of medical devices, insurance companies such as Metropolitan Life, publishing companies such as McGraw-Hill, and others.
Drug and Device Makers
Davis and Geck
The NLM holds nearly 700 films associated with Davis and Geck, a surgical/medical device company founded in 1909. According to the University of Connecticut’s finding aid to the Davis & Geck Company records, the company specialized in surgical sutures, beginning with catgut and moving on to kangaroo tendons and later to advanced synthetic materials. In 1928, the Davis and Geck Company began to produce surgical films as a way to document new procedures and to assist in the training of doctors and nurses. This program continued into the 1980s as the Ciné Clinic Films Program.
Petrolagar Laboratories was a Chicago-based manufacturer of an over-the-counter treatment for constipation. The Petrolagar formula was “65% (by volume) mineral oil emulsified with agar-agar.” Wyeth Pharmaceuticals purchased the company in 1943. Prior to that, Petrolagar regularly produced medical films, mostly dealing with gastrointestinal functions and abnormalities, and also provided funds to third parties to make films on other medical topics. Physicians from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University were involved in the making of several titles. The NLM holds 22 films associated with Petrolagar.
The Petrolagar pamphlet Habit Time of Bowel Movement produced in 1932 was one item featured in the Petrolagar exhibit in the Hall of Science at the Century of Progress International Exposition, held in Chicago in 1933 and 1934.
Some 400 films in the collection were produced or supported by pharmaceutical companies including Merck, Eli Lilly, Bayer, Smith Kline + French, Wellcome, Ayerset, Roche, and others. MD International, with opening remarks by then Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, is one.
Rex Fleming Productions
NLM holds about 40 titles produced by Rex Fleming, who made dozens of industrial and medical films during his career. Twenty-five of them were collaborations with Frederick Margolis, profiled in the Doctors and Scientists section of MoS. Along with Rudolph S. Joseph, Fleming co-founded the motion picture department of the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. The two made a series of four films in the 1950s called Health Problems of the Navajos. These films were the first and remain among the very few moving images made in the Navajo language. Margolis recruited Fleming for the work. Multiple Sclerosis is a Rex Fleming film featured in NLM Digital Collections.