austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We've got all your life and mine

Were you aware your father was killed a half-dozen times over by the time he was eight? That's the basic lesson of Live and Learn, an early 50s safety short produced and directed by Sid Davis using the facilities of the Los Angeles Childrens Hospital, the Santa Montica Police Department, and a lot of stock footage of a 1951 Ford-based ambulance driving around.

The narrator's point is that a moment of thoughtlessness can produce serious physical injury, maybe permanently crippling someone, maybe killing someone. So the short breathlessly races through demonstrations of horseplay to show the tragic consequences. A kid dives into the pool, and a friend jumps in on top of him. He's knocked unconscious! ... Oh, but they drag him out and give artificial respiration, so he doesn't end up dead ... like this kid in this footage from the Los Angeles Childrens Hospital so there! Or we go off to a couple kids building a fire in the backyard, and one runs back with a gas can and tosses it on the smouldering fire. Oh, now, one of the friends has to be wrapped up by the mummy division of the Los Angeles Childrens Hospital. Kids foolishly go up on the roofs of sheds and then jump off; one makes it, the next falls wrong and shatters his leg.

Kids play stickball in the street. One gets distracted running back for a catch, and what do you know but a car turns the corner and apparently is driven by a distracted kid, because the driver doesn't slow down or swerve or show any evidence he's aware there's a kid running in the street, so, he's dead, I guess. A kid playing with a BB gun doesn't shoot his eye out, but he does shoot out the eye of his friend when the glass bottle he hits explodes. Having a patch over his eye apparently makes the kid only see the left half of the world, by the way, which doesn't match my experience of covering one eye but who am I to argue with the disembodied narrator of a 1950s safety short?

The relentless fast immediate doom of every kid doing anything even a little bit fun has a weirdly comic pace to it, like one of those old Saturday Night Live sketches where the Dan Aykroyd played a maker of defective toys who proved that everything could be dangerous by shoving it in his mouth and falling over backwards so why shouldn't he sell kids a Bag of Broken Glass? It seems like the kind of short which should make great Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder, although the pace is actually too much. It'd be great to come up with a riff on the kid explicitly said to be a Boy Scout rocked the canoe so as to force his friend to fall out, but there's no time; he throws a life preserver and it's on to the next brush with fatal death.

Trivia: Apollo 17's Lunar Module landed within 656 feet of the planned landing point. Source: Apollo By The Numbers, Richard Orloff. NASA SP-2000-4029.

Currently Reading: The Lonely Crowd: A Study of The Changing American Character, David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, Reuel Denney. OK, there's a lot of interesting stuff here. There's also a description of a children's book (Tootle The Engine) which from the plot description I now hate and expect bunny_hugger would too. Most interesting bit as viewed from 60 years later? The talk of how the World War II generation bring ``scarcely a trace of moral righteousness into their scant political participation'', unlike Great War or Civil War veterans.

Tags: movies
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