Film: 5709

Social History | 1950 | Sound | B/W

Clip:

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Synopsis:

Road Safety film. A man kills a blind man by careless driving on a zebra crossing. Father leaves prison. Great lower middle class suburban family. Great street scenes with traffic. Filmed in Hull?

A woman stands at a zebra crossing then crosses after a van has passed. Cars and a bicycle go over the crossing. Various pedestrians walk past. A woman waits outside an prison. A man, Harry, wearing a hat with a bundle under his arm and a prison warder walk in the prison grounds towards the exit. The guard presses a button and the gate opens. They walk through. Another door opens and Harry steps out, smiling. His wife rushes to him and they embrace.

A street scene. The number 68 bus passes. A man with a white stick waits at a zebra crossing. Harry and his wife approach. Harry runs to the blind man and helps him across the crossing. A building on the street has the lettering Municipal Offices.

The pages of a tear-off calendar flip backwards quickly through the months to the time of Harry's offence. Harry's wife Beth wears an apron and slippers and has just finished laying the table for the family breakfast, she looks at the newspaper and starts to slice a loaf of bread. There is a fireplace, sideboard and telephone in the room, all typical of the period. Harry comes in, in braces, looking for his cufflinks. Beth finds them for him.

Their daughter Mary comes into the room and kisses her parents. The narrator tells us it is her sixteenth birthday. Her older brother John follows her in (he is supposed to be 18 but looks about 35), he kisses her. Mary sits down and reads the paper. John goes out and reappears with his jacket on. The family all sit for breakfast. Harry takes the newspaper from his daughter and starts to read it. Beth takes the paper from Harry and puts it behind her back. She pours tea into a cup and hands it to her husband. Mary, who is wearing school uniform and short socks, gets up from the table but her mother tells her to sit down again. After a minute she gets up again. She looks out from behind the net curtains and rubs the window. The postman walks along the road and into the front garden. Mary meets him at the door and takes the post. She goes back into the room and opens her presents, showing her family. Her father puts the birthday cards on the sideboard. Mary skips out of the room with Harry. Close up of the cards.

Mary opens the front door and goes to the garage, followed by her father and mother. She wheels out a brand new bicycle. She gets on it and her parents hold either side before pushing her off. Bev goes back inside to get John. He comes out and has a go on the bike, while Mary hugs her parents. John comes back and gets off the bike, which Mary puts in the garage, and closes the door.

Bev clears the table. Harry comes in and kisses her goodbye. John comes in and says goodbye, then Mary. Harry and John leave the house and go to the garage, John is wearing protective motorcycle clothing including headgear and goggles. He wheels out his motorbike. He stops at the road and looks for traffic. Harry backs his car out without stopping and drives off. It is registration XG 3656. Two girls in school uniform ride bicycles cross the road without looking and ride up to Mary's house. One knocks on the door and Mary comes out. She gets on her bike. Her mother is beside her. The three girls ride off, not paying attention to the road. A car drives behind them.

Back view of John as he rides his motorbike carefully through the traffic. Trolleybuses and cars go along a main road. He gives the correct arm signals and stops at zebra crossings. Women with prams cross at one of the crossings. Harry drives his car into a parking space. He locks his car and walks away. The girls wait at a level crossing then cycle through it before the gates are properly open. The narrator criticises their carelessness. They carry on cycling to school, three abreast, and turn into the school.

Harry walks to the office, past a Guinness billboard advertisement. He walks up the stairs to his office with the managing director, a man in a flat cap walks behind them. Harry opens the door to the office, there are several men working there, he goes to his desk and sits down. He picks up his telephone. His boss is on the telephone in his own office. Harry gets up and leaves the office. He opens the door to his boss' office. His boss gives him a folder of papers. Harry returns to his office.

School doors open and a crowd of older children rush out, they are all wearing caps and blazers. They rush to get their bicycles for a road safety lesson. The children sit on their bikes in a row as the Road Safety Officer and the headmaster (who is wearing a gown) come out of the building. He checks the brakes on the bicycles, including Mary's. There are various exercises in road safety on the school paths.

A girl rides a large tricycle on the road, a group of schoolchildren cycle past her. At home, Beth prepares the table for tea. Mary is now wearing a dress. John rides his motorbike home. A clock shows the time as five o'clock. Harry is still in the office, a secretary brings him the evening newspaper. Another secretary sits down beside him as he dictates a letter. The clock shows half past five. Mary, John and Beth wait for Harry. Mary leaves the front door and goes to the street to look out for him. The clock shows six o'clock. She goes back inside.

Harry is still in his office, his boss comes in to check on him. The secretary gives him some letters to sign, he signs them and replaces his pen in his pocket. The secretary takes her handbag and puts her coat on and leaves. The clock says half past six. Harry tidies his desk, takes his paper, hat and coat and leaves. He runs down the stairs and rushes to his car. He drives off, and drives over a zebra crossing without stopping. A traffic light changes. Harry drives on, badly, he sounds his horn as he tries to overtake another car. A man with a white stick approaches a zebra crossing. Harry drives quickly. Another car stops at the crossing, the blind man starts to cross. Front view of Harry's car racing along. A woman puts her hands to her mouth to scream. Harry drives onto the crossing and knocks the man down. He drives onto the pavement and stops. Two men lift the injured man from the crossing, Harry goes to help and they put the man into a car. Passersby watch. A policeman approaches Harry by his car and takes out his notebook. Harry takes his driving licence out of his jacket pocket. A crowd has gathered to watch. A poster on the wall advertises a Coronation Dance.

The injured man is lifted onto a trolley at the hospital. Harry drives home. He sits at the table with his family and tells them what has happened. Mary cries. Harry makes a telephone call. An operator connects the call. A hospital trolley is wheeled past, the man's face is covered. Harry replaces the receiver and tells his wife the man is dead. He sits down and covers his face with his hands.

Sign for Coroners Court. People sit around a long table for the inquest, with the Press at one end. Harry and Beth sit at the side on chairs. The doctor gives evidence. The widow cries. Close up of Beth. The inquest finishes.

Coat of arms above a court. Commentary says this is Kingston Upon Hull. A judge with gown and wig enters the court, the court officials bow to him. Harry stands in the dock, flanked by two policemen. Various courtroom scenes. Beth takes the stand and holds the Bible. The chairman of the jury stands. We learn that Harry is found guilty of dangerous driving and must spend six months in prison. Beth hugs him in the dock. She breaks down in tears as he is led away. She holds his hands through the bars.

Ends.


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