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Take the Tempo from the Teeth (1948)


Made for the Milk Board of NSW, Take the Tempo from the Teeth is a short dramatised film promoting the consumption of milk as a health product. It presents one woman in conversation with another, talking about how her son maintained shiny and strong teeth. She explains the role of milk in maintaining a balanced diet and healthy teeth, starting even before the child is born and continuing throughout adult life.

Curator’s notes

Promotional films like Take the Tempo from the Teeth support the consumption of milk-based products and the growth of the dairy industry in Australia. The Milk Board screened films like this for milk producers in rural localities across NSW and during Health Week showed the film to schoolchildren.

It is interesting to compare this film with White River of Life (c1950), made by the same company for the Milk Board a few years later. The 1950s film is in colour and aimed at younger women. It places milk education in the classroom, extolling the benefits of milk and milk-based products for a healthy body and appearance. Take the Tempo from the Teeth makes a scientific-sounding appeal to mothers and mothers-to-be, with a male doctor and dentist employed as authority figures to sell the message.

The prohibitive cost of dental care made dental health a big issue for poorer families at this time (see Chequerboard – It’s Amazing What You Can Do With a Pound of Mince, 1969). This film stresses the importance of preventative dentistry, but it was not until fluoride was introduced into the water supply from 1964 that the situation improved for most Australians.

In the late 1940s when this film was made, advertisers were also promoting cheese (Kraft Cheddar Cheese Cinema Advertisement: Your Daily Diet, c1947) and Vegemite (Vegemite Cinema Advertisement: Sister Knows Best, c1948) on the basis of their nutritional benefits. A mother-daughter trip to the dentist also features in the Kolynos Dental Cream Advertisement: Next Please (c1944).