One of the most notorious films in the history of educational filmstrips, it was thought lost until a copy was found in the basement of an abandoned insane asylum in Yellowknife in 1998.

It was filmed in 1957 by hackwork documentary filmmakers working for the Educational Films Corporation. New, relatively portable projectors allowed the use of film in the classroom, and educators seduced by flashy new technology were clamoring for films so they could justify the expensive equipment and take up class time so they could smoke in the faculty lounge.

Director Tom Mattenhorn was a frustrated filmmaker who turned out dozens of films for EFC before he turned to pornography several years later. He disappeared in 1974 and is thought to have been killed in a dispute with the mafia, though his body was never found. He and his two-man crew drove out to Walter Flats, Montana to the farm of an elderly couple straight out of American Gothic, Josiah and Lucretia Jones. As they were getting on in years, their shiftless sons, Isaiah and Elijah Jones, took on more and more responsibility, and as a result, the farm was falling into disrepair. Their daughter Carrie had moved to St. Louis with a Fuller Brush salesman years ago. As a result of all this, the Joneses were eager to open their gates to Mattenhorn and crew when he showed up with a fist full of one dollar bills and a case of cheap scotch.

In a sense, it could be seen as a precursor to all those "reality" shows littering the airwaves, as most of the time the filmmakers let the camera run while they smoked, drank scotch, and flirted with the daughters of the farmer down the road, leaving the Joneses and their hired hands to do what they pleased. In an occasional sober moment, Mattenhorn was forced to cajole the farmers to actually work in order to capture on film at least some of the elements one might expect from a film about farm work.

When he turned the film canisters over to EFC, their editors would fashion it into a 54 minute snoozefest designed to lull students into submissions. A pedantic voiceover by a B-movie actor or a quasi-celebrity would provide platitudes about the importance of farming. In this case, they were provided by none other than the star of That Hagen Girl and The Knute Rockne Story, Ronald Reagan.

What makes this film notorious is one incident that Mattenhorn captured on film. Late one night, Mattenhorn’s crew set up the camera near a fire in the barn and promptly forgot about it. Mattenhorn, the crew, and the Jones brothers were passing around a bottle of cheap moonshine (the scotch was long gone by this point) and discussing, as they usually did, sex. Utterly sloshed and by now oblivious to the presence of the camera and crew, Isaiah suddenly announced that he wanted to fuck Mariah, a donkey tied up nearby. At first, his brother was shocked, but then Elijah drunkenly goaded him on. Much to everyone’s surprise, Isaiah ravished Mariah vigorously, prompting Elijah to flee the barn to vomit profusely. The crew fled as well, but Mattenhorn had the presence of mind to snatch up the camera on his way out, preserving the film for posterity. Mariah’s thrashing upset the fire, which burned the barn to the ground, killing Isaiah. Though his body was severely burned, a gruesome look of ecstasy remained on his face.

This particular scene should have been destined for nothing more than being a conversation piece for Hollywood cocktail parties and orgies for the next few decades. But the editor assigned to cut "Life on the Jones Farm" into shape for schools was Matt Lidden, and he was hopelessly in love with a secretary at EFC, Katy Yields. But Yields had taken up with her married boss, John Windham, as secretaries tend to do. A despondent Lidden pestered Yields with love notes, flowers, and gifts, until Windham threatened to get him fired. As his days at the company were numbered, Lidden was determined to leave in a particularly memorable manner. He completed two versions of the film, one fit for schools, the other a secret "director's cut" with the notorious scene included. Once the former was approved for distribution, Lidden made the switch before the films were mass produced.

The early months of 1958 were filled with the horrific screams of little girls and the anguished cries of their teachers as Ronald Reagan lovingly spoke of fertilization and pollination while Isaiah Jones fucked the shit out of a donkey. All the transfixed boys could manage to say was "cool!" The films were rounded up and destroyed, but the damage to impressionable young retinas was already done. Lidden had long since quit and had disappeared; he was found dead in a Manilia whorehouse with a 12 year old girl a year later. In any case, a new scapegoat was needed. Windham got the blame and promptly hung himself in his office just prior to a congressional investigation. EFC changed its name, but couldn’t avoid the stigma, and soon went out of business.

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