Confidential File: Medical Quacks (film #367 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 50s tv program starring Paul Coates attempts to blow the lid off of medical quackery. First it tells the story of a little old lady with a lump in her throat, whose “friend� takes her to see a “doctor� in a hotel room, who “treats� her with a machine made of an old phonograph with lots of knobs attached. Then Coates interviews a California food and drug inspector, who, speaking very stiltedly, tells us that quacks who are caught are generally slapped on the wrist by the courts. He is very boring and hard to listen to, but it gets more interesting when he starts showing us various fake bizarre fake medical devices of the type that can be found in the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices today. Then Coates interviews says we are probably thinking that people who fall for such quackery are pretty stupid. He then interviews a guy who had half his ear eaten away by a “cancer salve,� after a quack diagnosed told him a scab he had on his ear was cancerous. The guy tells us that he used the salve for five weeks even though it burned his ear like battery acid. Eventually part of his ear fell off, and then the quack told him that the cancer had spread to the back of his neck. The guy used the salve there for several more weeks before he finally had enough of the pain and quit. Unfortunately, this interview does nothing to dissuade us from questioning the intelligence of quack doctors’ victims. This is a fairly campy show on an interesting topic, with a great 50s tv feel.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

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