BE YOUR OWN TRAFFIC POLICEMAN (1958) – I’ve been meaning to review more short subjects ever since I started writing Balladeer’s Blog in June of 2010. With all the other topics I cover I’ve only reviewed two short educational films so far: A Metric America, about how 1980’s America was going to be completely converted to the metric system, and The Energy Carol, a Canadian short about energy conservation adapted to fit the structure of A Christmas Carol.
Both of those reviews can be found on my Bad Movie page, and I’ll be reviewing plenty more short subjects in the very near future. For today I’ll examine Be Your Own Traffic Policeman, an educational short about pedestrian safety. This little honey clocks in at barely 10 minutes and was produced by Portafilms, an outfit that was neither as prolific nor as enjoyably frantic as, say, Sid Davis or Dick Wayman. When Davis or Wayman clubbed you over the head with a message you were laughing far too much to mind.
This traffic safety short is narrated and hosted by Officer Maxwell, known to all of us bad safety short fans from Helping Johnny Remember and Holiday From Rules. Officer Maxwell is accompanied by two children who mindlessly agree with everything he says, obviously fearing for their lives from the unintentionally sinister-seeming Maxwell. After all, at any moment he may take out his silver hammer and bring it down on their heads.(rimshot)
Since adults can’t always be around when children need to cross the street Officer Maxwell preaches his OWN brand of vigilante law enforcement: “Boys and girls who want to be considerate of others and avoid getting hurt must learn to be their own traffic policeman.” You’re never too young to learn that harsh but time-proven fact of life, I guess.
Anyway that lesson is conveyed by cartoons that feature blobs which are barely discernible as kids and cars. Whenever the cartoon children with large, mutated heads (clearly this is a post-nuclear war world) doltishly try to jaywalk, skate on the street or other assorted traffic faux pas an equally large-headed traffic policeman appears to them and hollers at them to wise up and obey traffic rules.
I’m guessing that Be Your Own Traffic Policeman was followed by Be Your Own Vice Cop and Be Your Own Nuclear Safety Inspector.
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