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Sex Madness (1938) - Plot Summary Poster

(1938)

Plot

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Summaries

  • Philanthropist Paul Lorenz is one of the more public faces in the fight against behavior that spreads the many "social diseases", such as syphilis and gonorrhea. An example of such behavior is going to or performing in burlesque shows, which promotes casual sex. Indeed, many in the audience at one burlesque show in New York have only sex on their mind, including young unmarried couple James and Jane, office colleagues Peggy and Betty (Peggy who is trying to seduce Betty), and Paul Lorenz's son himself, Tom Lorenz, who is looking forward to an after show group sex party, which will include some of the girls from the show, such as Sheila Wayne, who has syphilis but treats it as casually as her sex. One of the show girls who won't be attending the party is Millicent Hamilton. From a small town, good girl Millicent's pre-engagement to her boyfriend Wendel Hope was interrupted when she won a beauty contest with a trip to New York. She found life in New York more difficult than she expected and a sexual encounter associated with trying to advance her show business career resulted in her also contracting syphilis. But Millicent is going to respected Dr. Hampton, who informs her that she can fully recover and eventually marry Wendel if she takes the slow, intensive but proven therapy. But when she leaves New York for home which means therapy with another doctor, Dr. Hampton warns her to beware of quacks who may promise a full, expensive miracle cure. When Millicent heads home, will she heed Dr. Hampton's advice, or will she fall prey to the hope of a quick cure so that she can marry Wendel sooner?

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  • This sex exploitation film includes wild parties, sex out of wedlock, lesbianism, etc. After going to a "casting couch", a chorus girl contracts syphilis. The film then focuses on the effects this lifestyle and disease have on her marriage.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • A group of people go to attend a local burlesque show in New York City. Among them are a young unmarried couple, named James and Jane, plus two female office workers named Peggy and Betty (in which Peggy, a lesbian, is trying to seduce Betty). Also with them is philanthropist Dr. Paul Lorenz who is publicly speaking out against "social diseases" such as syphilis and gonorrhea which is the result of casual sex from going to burlesque shows such as this one.

    After performing in the burlesque show, dancer Sheila Wayne goes backstage and tries to convince her best friend, Millicent Hamilton, to join her for drinks with reformer Tom Lorenz, son of the renowned venereal disease expert Dr. Paul Lorenz, but Millicent turns down the offer because she has an appointment with Dr. Harris early the next morning.

    Sheila and her friends attend a party that night and engage in casual sex with the male guests. Meanwhile, Millicent reads a letter from her boyfriend from her hometown of Lorain, and begins to regret ever having left him to come to the big city.

    The next day, Dr. Harris informs Millicent that she has contracted syphilis, though he admits that she does not fit the personality profile of the disease's typical victim. The devastated Millicent then recounts for the doctor the events leading up to the one sexual encounter she had with a theatrical manager in New York upon her arrival to the city.

    After winning a beauty contest in Lorain, Millicent explains, she left for New York, where, desperate to find work, she accepted an invitation to a theater manager's Long Island hideaway and submitted to his sexual advances. Dr. Harris then takes Millicent on a tour of the venereal disease ward at the hospital, where he shows her examples of the physical ravages of her disease in its advanced stages. Afterwards, he assures her that her condition is treatable with a new cure. He then makes Millicent promise to remain celibate until completely cured.

    When Millicent tells Dr. Harris that she plans on returning to Lorain, the doctor warns her to be wary of unscrupulous doctors who bilk their patients out of hundreds of dollars and then fail to cure them. Millicent returns to Lorain, where she settles in with her boyfriend, Wendel Hope, and her parents.

    One year later, after having been under the care of Dr. Grenoble, who has assured her of her readiness for marriage and childbirth, Millicent believes herself to be cured of the disease. Tragically, though, Millicent gives birth to an unhealthy child, witnesses her husband rapidly losing his eyesight, and soon learns that Dr. Grenoble has been arrested on charges of medical fraud.

    At the suggestion of a pediatrician, Millicent and Wendel have themselves examined by a another doctor, who informs them that Millicent has unwittingly infected her family with the disease. Millicent watches helplessly as her bedridden husband slowly dies. Just as she is about to end her life by taking poison, Millicent's old friend Sheila calls to tell her that she is engaged to be married and that she has been successful in treating her case of syphilis with the new cure.

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