|THE EDUCATIONAL ARCHIVES: DRIVER'S ED
|Copyright 2002 Fantoma (various dates for films)
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 19 October 2007
- Val - Look at how long his arms are in proportion to his body! I bet that he can scratch his feet without bending at the waist. He probably sits in the back seat to drive, just to keep his elbows from cramping up. Oh, wait, he crashes the car and dies. At least he will not need wings to get to Heaven; he can swing from cloud to cloud like some sort of angelic orangutan.
- Bill - After drinking a few beers, he turns a mother and her young daughter into road mush.
- Jimmy - He knows the "See and Be Seen" rule, but forgets to apply it now and then. His memory lapses might be caused by tannin poisoning, because I suspect that he flosses with a leather belt.
- Sandy - She was on the bounce from Tom, then tried dating Bill, which caused her to bounce off of Mr. Overpass (and that is not the name of a teacher).
- Nancy & Susie - A little girl and her life-sized doll. They are hard to tell apart, because they dress alike and both have blonde hair. Susie is the one held together by Phillips head screws and safety wire.
- Lisa - What did she do to anger the Bike God?
- Pedestrians and Bicyclists - Little more than speed bumps and obstacles that scream when you hit them.
- Alcohol - Death in the form of a plain white can labeled "BEER."
|"The Educational Archives" are compilations of old instructional films, meaning that they are entertainment goldmines for anyone who enjoys watching this sort of curio. We can look back and wonder how our mothers and fathers survived when their parents were so ignorant of stuff we take for granted. Heck, I am lucky to have survived childhood. Mom had a big, old Chevy van that lacked seatbelts in the back (it had two front seats and padded benches covered each rear wheel). If we had ever hit a tree or substantial obstacle, there would have been an Andrew-sized hole in the front windshield. A serious rear-end collision would have resulted in the back doors flying open and my brain housing group being smashed open on the hood of the car that struck us, ala the watermelons in "Maximum Overdrive."
We look at these films and are completely floored by the legal limit for driving under the influence being .15, or babies crying in bassinets in the back seat, or huge cars with correspondingly huge blind spots, but that is how it used to be. We have learned since then. Everybody knows that fire will cause burns, but that was not always the case. In the distant past, some hairy moron stuck his paw into a raging fire and then screamed in pain while the rest of the tribe hooted in alarm.
Sometimes, I feel like Mankind's real goal is to not be so damn stupid.
James Stewart narrates this one! In Arizona, where you might think an early emphasis would be placed on teaching water conservation (or first aid for rattlesnake bites), elementary school children are taught proper driving before they learn the alphabet. At first, this involves playing with toy cars and reciting traffic laws. Eventually, the little kids graduate to pedal-powered sedans on a miniature city course that is complete with crosswalks, stop signs, and even police officers. Math - who needs it? English - who needs it? History - why do we learn this, anyway? Who needs any of that crap when they have a car?
There is also a section about the enforcement measures taken to keep teenage drivers on the straight and narrow, which is funny, because every street in Phoenix is a straight line; the place looks like I designed it using "Sim City 2000." Anyway, if they fail to behave on the road, teenagers are subjected to an agonizing ten hours of attitude school and an interview with a traffic court judge. Drive responsibly, or the adults will bore you to death!
Val and Tim are two restless youths who envy the older boys, mostly on account of them owning cars. While baseball practice is going on, the pair takes Randall's street machine out for a joy ride (Randall leaves his keys in the ignition, because we all know how painful it is to slide into home with car keys in your pocket). The joy ride turns into quite the adventure. In addition to testing the car's 0-60 mph time, the boys clean egg from the windshield and pick up a pair of girls. Fully assembled and with a perfectly functioning vehicle, the group pulls off the road to visit a rusting junker in a ravine. What do the kids do? They pretend to drive around in it and completely lose track of time. Rushing to return Randall's car before baseball practice ends, Val attracts the attention of a police officer and then runs smack into a cliff.
This is the type of science that I can appreciate. Optometrists conduct a study to prove that alcohol impairs vision and the ability to operate an automobile. Participants are given eye exams and tested on a set driving course, then given alcohol and checked again. Okay, they are not just "given alcohol." The test drivers actually have a party with booze, music, and people dancing. Once everyone is snookered to the legal limit of .15 BAC (yes, .15 was the legal limit back then), they don their crash helmets and commence with the hay bale and orange traffic cone carnage. It is pretty amusing to watch a random driver flubbing the course and scaring the bejeezus out of two or three of the monitors (who are standing around, with a drunk driver at the wheel of a car mere feet away). Following that impressive display, the film switches gears and rattles off statistics about the driver's eyesight. Who cares if peripheral vision was reduced by 18%? That woman just ran over half a dozen orange cones and backed into a stack of straw bales! I would say that her ability to drive is pretty well knackered.
THE BOTTLE & THE THROTTLE
It completely amazes me that the legal limit used to be .15 BAC, especially after watching this short and "Alco Beat." In this one, Bill drinks a couple of beers and then gets on the road. He proves to be lethal to anyone using a crosswalk. However, the real star here is the narrator. The guy can talk! He talks fast and does not let up for the entire film. You have to watch the film twice just to process everything that the narrator says. The best factoid is that someone with a BAC of .15 is ten times more likely to cause an accident than someone who is sober. Why was the legal limit not .10 or .08 in the first place? Having madmen randomly discharging shotguns while driving sounds less hazardous than a bar letting out.
THE TALKING CAR
Ah, I might have found my favorite out of the whole lot. Whoever wrote this script is a certified cuckoo. There is this kid, Jimmy, who forgets the "See and Be Seen" rule. The boy does not become road kill, but he comes pretty close. Jimmy's dad scolds him, and probably makes a mental note to take out a life insurance policy on the little brat. That night, Jimmy dreams that he is in heaven and three cars, all with animated faces, put him on trial for failing to follow the "See and Be Seen" rule. An old jalopy that might be a Model T (sorry, not up on my ancient cars) is so angry that I think it wants to execute the kid and be done with it! "Step out in front of me so that I can kill you now and prevent you from forgetting to 'See and Be Seen' ever again!" Another car, a convertible roadster, comes across as loving children a little too much. It is worrisome and, to make the pedophile stereotype complete, the car even has a thick brown moustache. The third vehicle is the family station wagon and it is the voice of moderation.
The mechanical grand jury grills Jimmy about the "See and Be Seen" rule, which details that children must always look for cars and be certain that whoever is driving the car looks at them. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. I could deal with this if the plot did not involve talking cars, children traveling in packs like wildebeests at all times (to avoid their natural predators: automobiles), and vehicles with blind spots that are large enough to hide a battleship.
THE LAST PROM
Sandy just broke up with her boyfriend and does not have a date to the prom, so Jim and Judy introduce her to Bill. The two hit it off and agree that an evening at the prom would be a great way to start a relationship. Here is what would have worried me were I Sandy's father: Bill owns a van. Not just any van, but a big, white van with a velvet interior and curtains in the windows. In an alternate universe somewhere, Bill arrived at my house to take my daughter to the prom and I met him at the door with a huge lumberjack axe. What happened next is that Bill was really a cyborg and we fought back and forth across the yard, until a mighty blow from my axe chopped his titanium brain housing in twain. Then Jenna (like I am going to name my daughter "Sandy") went to the prom with another young man, one who respected her as a human being and believed in classic family values.
Of course, in yet another alternate universe, my daughter's prom date is a fat, hairy motorcycle rider nicknamed "Beefsteak." Both Jenna and my wife run off to Canada with Beefsteak. What is a guy going to do? I cannot save every version of my daughter, in every alternate universe. However, in this reality, I do own a big axe. Bill the cyborg van molester has met his match.
I failed to mention something amusing earlier. That is what the narrator says as Sandy's father takes a picture of her and Bill before they depart for the prom. The narrator says that family photo albums are filled with "dozens of pictures like this." Call me crazy, but most kids probably attend between two and four proms, not a dozen. Even Charles De Mar only went to five or six.
A fact of life is that prom itself sucks. Everybody leaves and goes to enjoy themselves somewhere else. In the case of this prom, the four students climb into Bill's van and drive around town (apparently, this is more fun than prom). To keep things interesting, the boys drink multiple beers. Sandy is very uncomfortable with Bill's drinking while driving and speeding down wet country roads. Unfortunately, she never takes any sort of action, besides saying, "Maybe we should slow down." She doesn't even fasten her seat belt. When the van finally crashes into an overpass, Sandy is thrown through the windshield.
Do you understand what I am saying? All proms suck and everybody leaves sooner or later to drink and drive. Those that survive, return to the prom. How does it feel to be a salmon wearing a tuxedo?
After my senior prom, we drove to down to the beach, chucking donut holes at each other's cars the whole way. I don't remember any of us drinking; hence nobody went flying through a windshield. The only casualty happened the next day, when David was forced to explain to his father why the old man's sports coupe was covered with white spots (powdered sugar contrasts with black).
SAFETY BELT FOR SUSIE
On their way to grandmom's house, the parents of a little girl are forced off the road by another car and hit a tree. Happily, the little girl is not in the car. What is in the car is Susie, a life-sized doll. Susie does not fare too well during the crash and the parents are mortified at what could have happened to their little girl. All of this proves to be a segue into a study conducted by the University of California at Los Angeles.
Using crash test dummies for the adults and life-sized dolls for the children, the UCLA study proves that wearing a safety restraint is critical. Some of the findings are pretty amusing, because the scientists suggest that infants should travel in a bassinet in the back seat. Sure, the baby will bounce around inside the bassinet, but that is better than the alternative (cars back then were full of hard surfaces, like the dashboard).
We have a baby boy and he might not like the car seat, but gosh darn if we do not secure little Garrett into it before every trip. Someday, he will be thankful that we knew better than to toss him into a bassinet wedged in the back. On the other hand, forty years from now, people will probably be thinking that Garrett was lucky to survive childhood. "Why wasn't anyone using null-force kinetic fields?" and "How horrible, crash foam systems weren't invented yet." - stuff like that.
Anyway, the real reason to watch this short is the slow motion footage recorded by cameras inside the cars. The crash happens and we watch in amazement as dolls go flying through the air, pitching about the inside of the vehicles like racquetballs.
I LIKE BIKES
Lisa loves her bicycle, until the day that she finally receives her driver's license. After that, she is constantly harassed by bikes! They suddenly stop in front of her car, speed through intersections on collision courses, approach from the rear as she parallel parks, and even skid out of control into her path when a lawn sprinkler makes the road slippery. By the end of the film, we can all be certain that Lisa probably experiences night terrors involving cyclists.
Do not be this guy. I am not just saying that because he wakes up wrapped in bandages and missing a leg. From what we see, Tom had it coming. He drove like a maniac all the time! Running stop signs was no big deal, he normally drowsed while returning from hunting trips, and drinking and driving was a weekly occurrence. All of that changed the night he and some buddies, including his good friend, Jim, stopped for a few drinks after bowling. Many hours later, the responsible members of the group took a cab home. Not Tom, he poured Jim and himself into the car and made it about two blocks before a well-placed telephone pole proved to be an effective obstacle.
We get to watch Tom berate himself and worry about Jim's wife and kids if his buddy dies. You're already on a roll, Tom. If he dies, you could convert to Mormonism and marry the widow. That would kill two birds with one stone, because I understand that the Mormons aren't too keen on alcohol.
Yes, I know that modern day Mormons do not practice polygamy. You still get the joke, right? Why do you always have to ruin things?
THE CROSSROADS CRASH
The dangers of intersections are depicted using a fictional story involving Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, and...Jimmy Olsen? I cannot imagine that is actually supposed to be Jimmy Olsen, but I am stuck on what else to call the character. Okay, to keep on track, intersections are death traps. The world would be a safer place if roads never crossed each other and we all used highways that went directly between where we are and where we are going. Since that is not the case, and we are forced to navigate intersections (like crossing the River Styx on a boogie board), your best chance of surviving is by paying attention to traffic signals and signs.
I was quite interested in this film, but it did not solve a question that has been bugging me. What the heck does a blinking green light mean? Years ago, there was a blinking green light on the way to my sister's house. It was a T intersection on a country road. The only local features were trees and cornfields. I have asked police officers and they look at me like I have a reproductive organ growing out of my forehead (I assure you, that is not the case). Shoot, I even asked the woman at the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles. She did not believe me and the interview caused me to worry that she was going to withhold my license.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- The ability to operate a motor vehicle is more important than reading, writing, or arithmetic.
- Alcohol is a form of anesthesia that tastes good.
- Sometimes the cops want you to drink and drive.
- If you are going to drive drunk, at least own a car that is bright red, so that the blood will not clash with the paint job.
- Heaven is full of talking cars and cotton fluff.
- In the old days, bed sheet sets came with matching pajamas.
- The blue-breasted, senior prom boyfriend is an endangered species due to the loss of its natural habitat, the white Ford van.
- High school bathrooms are enormous and come complete with leather furniture.
- Every school should hold a blood drive the week prior to prom.
- The term "bouncing baby boy" was coined during the University of California automobile collision study.
- There is a bike path in California that leads to Japan.
- 15 mins - The reason you didn't score with a girl wasn't your lack of a car, it was your face.
- 26 mins - "I wear my sunglasses at night, because I cannot, because I cannot, afford two drinks in Reno..."
- 27 mins - Is that guy nuts? My observation chair would be behind a concrete barrier, with land mines and a moat in front of it.
- 31 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST ORANGE CONES!
- 32 mins - There goes another one! It's a cone massacre!
- 37 mins - The only difference between this bottle and Everclear is the label.
- 54 mins - Did a cow paint that car?
- 64 mins - Oh no, she is one of those girls who has to tell guys about her old boyfriend. And they wonder why nobody wants to date them...
- 88 mins - It's like "Groundhog Day" for crash test dummies!
- 99 mins - Is that my old Camaro?
- 100 mins - Everybody wave to the cameraman's reflection in the side window.
- 116 mins - "Transfusion, transfusion, I'm just a solid mess of contusions..."
- 123 mins - Nobody has a stop sign? Not even a yield?
- James Stewart: "Lady, lady, that stop sign means you!"
- Crossroads Crash Narrator: "It's not smart to play games with two tons of steel."
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Arco Beat Narrator: "This is the most unusual party you've ever attended. These people are deliberately getting drunk, with the later intention, once they're under the influence, of driving automobiles...under the supervision not only of safety officials and police officers, but the Parent Teachers Association and the State of Nevada Medical Association."
||Angry Model T: "In my time, I've seen hundreds of boys just like him!" |
Pedo Roadster: "So have I, in my time. Most young boys and girls are good. They know what responsibility means. Give Jimmy a chance."
Angry Model T: "He shouldn't be allowed out of the house!"
||Last Prom Narrator: "Was it a pretty face that made this gaping, jagged hole in the windshield?"
||Safety Belt for Susie Narrator: "We found that infants were safest in bassinets, with the long axis of the bassinet aligned with the longitudinal axis of the car, and strapped in this position. We also found that infants or children must never be held on the lap and restrained with the adult's belt, as collision forces tend to crush the child."
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Here is the onboard camera in the UCLA child restraint tests. Just watch those dolls fly through the air when the cars collide! Did anyone else notice that both "parents" have giant umbilical cords coming out of the back of their heads that flagellate the "children?" Adults don't have those anymore. I bet that getting rid of them saved lives. |
I still love the name tapes on the dolls' foreheads. I tried the same trick with my kids, but they kept peeling the tape off.
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