THE PRICE OF SIN
(aka WAGES OF SIN)
(1966), B&W;, 78 minutes
distributed by Trans-International Films
presented by K. Gordon Murray
DER ARZT STELLT FEST
(The Doctor Finds Out)
(1966), Swiss, Color, 80 minutes
Produced by Praesens-Film Zurich, CCC Filmkuunst GmbH, Fono Film
Filmed in the Gynecological Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
Directed by Aleksander Ford
Produced by L. Wechsler, Artur Brauner
Screenplay: David Wechsler
Story: Walter M. Diggelmann
Cinematography: Eugen Shufftan
Music: Robert Blum
Medical & Scientific Consultant: Hans Wyss, M.D.
Executive Supervisor: Hermann Haller
Consultant, English Version: Herman J. Engel
CAST: Tadeuss Lomnicki (Doctor Manfred Maurer), Sabine Bethmann (Mrs. Maurer), Charles Regnier (Professor), Rene Deltgen (Dr. Deiner), Fred Tanner (Mr. Kleiner), Margret Neuhaus (Eva Kleiner), Dieter Borsche (Mr. Sidler), Margot Trooger (Mrs. Sidler), Vera Jesse (Ursula), Beate Tschudi (Sophie Ruesch), Lutz Altschul, Peter Oehme, “doctors and nurses of the Gynecological Clinic Zurich”
This sad, bleak, depressing childbirth film, with abortion and birth control its main focus, is quite a downer (which of course can be fun if you’re in the right mood, and murder if you’re not).
We open with a highly judgmental documentary-style montage sequence, showing grim scenes of hungry-eyed Third-Worlders as our narrator intones that thanks to scientific progress, folks are living longer, and overpopulation is becoming a great problem, leading to all sorts of political and economic strife, not the least of which is starvation, poverty and revolution.
While this is theoretically sound reasoning, even laudable, it is unlikely that anyone in the history of the world has ever had an abortion due to overpopulation! For that matter, those who practice birth control for humanitarian reasons can probably be counted on one hand. Both options are highly emotional, subjective affairs (admittedly having great social impact).
The main body of the film is a talky melodrama between doctors of various philosophic persuasion, as they discuss moral and medical advantages of birth control for poor women, single mothers, knocked-up teens, etc.
In this, TPOS shares a great deal with Murray’s other childbirth opus, WASTED LIVES, but at least that had the eye-popping THE BIRTH OF TWINS and the amusing Sex Manual pitch to keep you from reaching for the cyanide!
The violent, tragic death of Frau Kleiner due to a hack abortion is quite disturbing, as are some brutally frank scenes of a mucus-covered newborn slithering out of a teenage mommy. These twisted moments must be considered the “highlights” of this most melancholy film.
One odd anachronism is the repeated use of a beeper to alert doctors to important phone calls. Although obviously already in use in the 1950’s, they still seem ultra-modern, out of place in this environment.
It is both curious and ironic that the marketing for childbirth films, from TEST TUBE BABIES onward, promised something lurid and sexy to the audience, yet viewing the creepy, dogmatic, virtually punitive film itself was often enough to put you off sex forever! Perhaps this was crafty, subliminal behavior modification in the service of the over-populationists, or more likely, just exploitation business as usual.