Darkness Before the Dawn: The Pride of Judea Story (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #394 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 50s film profiles the Pride of Judea Children’s Services, an agency which provides psychological and social work services to Jewish children in New York City. This film tries to be all things to all people. It starts with a brief, lurid handwringing about the problem of juvenile delinquency, then goes through all the things Pride of Judea is doing about it. There’s a lot of stuff, so the narrator chatters on and on without taking a breath, covering the summer camp for troubled and underpriviledged boys, the psychotherapy services provided for children and their parents, the homemaker service which provides help for families where the mother is temporarily incapacitated or absent, and the day nursery for single-parent families. Most of this is covered in a fairly standard fashion, with momentary lapses into sensationalism or sappiness, but nothing lasts long because the film is so jam-packed with stuff. It does give a historically interesting glimpse into social services and Jewish culture during the 50s. But, man, I wish that narrator would slow down and take a breath once in awhile!

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

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