1960s-era film warns that looking at adult magazines turns teenagers into killers

The Oregon Historical Society has found “Pages of Death,” a 1962 anti-pornography short film that attempts to show the deadly consequences of looking at adult magazines. The film was considered lost until just a few days ago, and gained a reputation as the mythical “Reefer Madness” of smut fear-mongering.

Pages of Death is as dramatic as the name implies: It’s about the murder of a twelve-year-old girl. Her death is investigated by two cliche hard-boiled detectives, and they only really have one suspect, Paul, a local teenager.

The detectives find physical evidence is Paul’s masturbation den (yes, really), and find “the true killer”– the dirty magazines. The two detectives angrily confront the store owner who sold Paul the magazines, and tell him that he is responsible for the girl’s death just as much as Paul. Like most youth-focused propaganda films, “Pages of Death” ends by warning parents that this can happen to their children.

The film was created by Charles Keating, an anti-obscenity and pro-censorship activist. Keating went on to lead Nixon’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1969. Keating later became a powerful Wall Street banker who exploited Reagan’s deregulations to commit fraud, and nearly caused the savings & loan industry to collapse in the early 1990s.

The film is narrated and presented by Tom Harmon, a former KTLA sports anchor and UCLA football announcer. Harmon is also the father of NCIS’s Mark Harmon.


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