Monday, April 30, 2007

"Feet! My favorite part of the human anatomy!"

"I've got two million ways of handling feet!" Thus speaks the Joker, played by the always incredible Hans Conried, in this equally incredible early 60s industrial safety film for the American Bridge Division of United States Steel. The Joker posits that a tights-wearing imp, presumably from Hell, causes American steelworkers to daydream about dames and speedboats, thus softening them up for gruesome "lost time accidents" involving punch presses and grinding wheels. The film makes it quite clear that at US Steel, crucial safety gear such as safety glasses and metatarsal shoes were entirely discretionary and to be paid for by the employees. The film even blames whimsical imps for such things as crumbling concrete factory floors ("which the Joker has kept from the front office"). As is to be expected, Hans Conried is wonderful as the Joker, prancing from department to department, egging on blue collar workers with visions of shrewish wives and bowling championships (so very, very sad), and then laughing with venomous glee as their fingers are scissored off or their feet are crushed. Unexpectedly, Conried even manages to make his jester/demon vaguely sympathetic in a scene in which the Joker expresses regret after a steelworker is crushed flat by a giant I-beam. "To tell the truth, I don't like it to turn out that way.." he says, sadly, raising the question of what, exactly, constitutes going too far when you're an industrial accident-causing sprite from Hell. Incidentally, Hans must have been one heck of a sport, given his costume. If you ever wanted to see a middle-aged Hans Conried frisking about in tights, this film is for you. It's available on volume 4 of Something Weird Video's Health and Safety Scare Films series along with Sid Davis's classic The Dangerous Stranger and the vomit-strewn An Outbreak of Staphylococcus Intoxication.


part 1

part 2

part3

part 4

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