Film: 6739

Medicine | 1960 | Sound | Colour

Synopsis:

Animated anti Smoking health film

Animation starts with a smoke ring rising up gainst a blue background, it opens out to form a border at the edges of the screen and a character appears inside. It’s a man with a pointed nose and chin, and a thin moustache and two small white horns coming out of his head. He wears a black coat with a high collar and is obviously meant to represent the devil. He closes his purple-lidded eyes and rubs his hands together with glee. He reaches his arm out, and it extends and a flame appears at the top of his thumb, as a boy appears from the right of the frame with a cigarette in his mouth, which the 'devil' lights for him. The boys puffs on the cigarette to get it alight, then says thanks and walks out of the frame. Another boy walks into the frame, gets his cigarette lit, says thank-you, then another does the same, followed by another. The devil then walks forward into shot, and clicks his fingers to put the flame out. A title appears next to him: 'Old Nick O'Teen', and he rubs his chin. Then the first boy is in the frame (alone), holding the smoking cigarette in his hand and the title says, 'Sam Sucker in' then just the title, 'written' in 'smoke' is seen: 'Dying for a smoke', camera 'draws back' and Nick O'Teen (I will call him Nick from now on) blows the title away and turns to wink at the viewer. Then he is shown driving along a city street in a little van with a large model of a cigarette on the top, and a picture of his face on the side mimicking Uncle Sam's war recruitment posters with a finger pointing out and the words 'Old Nick wants you'. Close-up of Nick driving, as he addresses the viewer, introducing himself and saying saying that he's looking for more slaves - 'slaves of old nick-o-teen', then the van accelerates off.

Outside a school (large sign reads 'school'), children come swarming out of the gates, and Nick is waiting for them outside in his van. He laughs an evil laugh, gets out of the van, and addresses the viewer secretively - he needs a suitable disguise. He changes into a black-clad young biker, with a motorbike (the van disappears). He greets the crowd of children, and offers them a cigarette from a packet. One young boy says 'no thanks', but Nick insists, and the boy takes a cigarette (close-up of his hand taking the cigarette from the packet) The style of animation is very simple, and the characters have a real 1960's look to them. The boy puts the cigarette in his mouth, Nick lights it using the flame from the thumb trick, and the boy takes a drag. The slightly evil looking'biker' Nick then throws the packet to the children so that they can help themselves. The smoking boy catches it and offers cigarettes to his friends. Nick jumps on to the motorbike and starts it with a kick and rides off. The smoking boy coughs as he exhales the cigarette smoke, says 'this is great' to a girl who is standing next to him holding her own cigarette (the boy is leaning casually on a lamppost) and takes another puff, as does the girl. They puff away, filling the screeen with cigarette smoke until they are both completely obscured. The smoke begins to clear, and the children look confused, as they are no longer in the familiar street, as we look from their point of view up a street of terraced houses, then a view of the houses roofs, the camera pans down to ground level, and we see a street sign on some railings that reads 'Fag Alley'. We see a man (head and shoulders shot) - he has a working-class appearance - short hair, flat cap, rather fat-looking face, he is coughing a wheezy smokers cough after having taken a puff from a cigarette. Then we see a cat crouched on a wall by the railings, it also hasa a cigarette in its mouth, and starts to cough dramatically, going cross-eyed and nearly falling off the wall. The two children walk down the street in single file, cigarettes in their mouths, hands in pockets, looking rather pleased with themselves. They stop suddenly, looking up. We see a bird on a branch, with a cigarette in its mouth, coughing a wheezy cough. The little girl says 'I don't like the look of this', 'pan' down to a dog on the pavement next to a gutter, he is surrounded by cigarette smoke, has a fag in his mouth and is coughing and looking thoroughly miserable. Back to the girl and boy. The boy exclaims 'Look!', then theres a close-up of the girl's hands, her fingers stained brown with nicotine, then they both point to each others teeth (obviously stained though not shown) and then the girl notices the boy's smelly smokey breath, and screws up her face in disgust. The boy says "so what?", and carries on smoking, but the girl has stopped and decides to go back, and turns to leave. The boys taps the ash off his cigarette and walks the opposite way back up Fag Alley. Nick (in devil form) pops out from behind a round 'dead end' sign, looking with an evil grin up the street. He turns the sign round so that it now reads 'One way', and throws out a hanful of cigarettes. We see a close-up of them rolling vertically past, they get closer together to create a rolling conveyer belt of cigarettes, a pair of feet appear and their owner is transported along. It is the boy, and he happily takes a drag from his cigarette, and blows a smoke ring. However, the smoke ring transforms into a chain which goes tightly around his neck and drags him along. He joins a chaingang of people trudging along, all with cigarette smoke chains around their necks, cigarettes in their mouths, looking pale with screwed-up eyes and generally miserable. The boy is at the end of the 'chaingang'. Cut to Nick, still hiidng behind the 'one way' sign - he clasps his hands with glee at the sight of his chaingang, he laughs his evil laugh as the sorry smokers trudge along the street, their hands held up pathetically in front of them. View from inside a room, looking out at the moon through a curtained window, we draw back to see the boy asleep in his bed, cue dreamy harp music. The boy sits up in bed, his eyes still closed, and gets out of the bed, walking with his arms outstretched in the classic sleepwalking pose to the sound of his own voice repeatedly saying "give us a fag…" he has the 'smoke' chain around his neck, and it pulls him along into the blue background of a dream sequence. He arrives at a large cigarette vending machine, to which his neck chain is drawing him. He bumps into the machine and abruptly wakes up. A close-up of the machine shows what kind of cigarettes are available - 'manliness', 'pleasure', 'popularity' and 'self-confidence' - all in flashing signs. The boy looks delighted and produces a coin, then a close-up shows him putting the coin into the machine, then opening the drawer and taking out a packet of fags. He takes one out and puts it into his mouth, then searches his pink pajama pockets for a light - unsuccessfully. A doctor appears, hovering in the blue background. He wears a white doctors top, and a stethoscope around his neck. The boy asks him for a light, then the doctor instead offers him some advice - stating the possible ill-effects of smoking and as he says each word, they appear in the spaces on the vending machine where the previous ones were. He says "ill health, bronchitis, heart disease, lung cancer", and warns darkly "most of them are killers'. There's a close-up of his eyes as he asks the boy "Are you fed up with life?", then a close-up of the boys wide eyes as he responds "no", the doctor asks him "why poison yourself". The doctor grabs the cigarette out of the boys mouth, then lays it down, draws his finger along it which opens up the paper to reveal the tube of rolled tobacco inside. The doctor tells how smoking poisons you, and the smoke from the cigarette appears to travel down the inside of a white tube - the next image shows the tube is a windpipe - the smoke travels into the lungs of a black silhouette of a human figure, showing how the smoke darkens the inside of the lungs. A close-up shows small dark clusters appearing in the lungs to demonstrate the tumours of lung cancer, which the doctor states kills 30,000 people a year. There follows a close-up of a beating heart, showing the veins and arteries leading from and to it. A silhouette image of the man shows other smoking-related problems that can occur - cancer in other parts of the body, shown by little snowflake-like images appearing all over the body. He boy looks angrily up at the doctor, and accuses him of smoking, but the doctor responds by saying he's given up, 'like most other doctors'. The doctor then evaporates into thin air. The boy angrily says he doesn't care, picks up the cigarette and puts it back into his mouth. Nick appears, popping up from behind the 'vending' machine, and pops his arm through the slot, flicks his thumb and lights the boys proffered cigarette. The boys puffs away happily, but then the smoke chain starts pulling him along again, and we again see the chaingang, trudging even more despondently past a graveyard with crosses and headstones visible, with the boy briging up the rear of the group. The accompanying music sounds a sombre note, like a funeral march. A close-up of one man shows him dropping down through the chain onto his hands and knees on the floor and passing through a door that's marked 'Bronchitis', followed by a woman who crawls through a door that has 'heart disease' written on it. Nick puts the vending machine next to a freshly-dug grave, and stands beside it, an eager smile on his face. He slaps the words 'early grave' onto the headstone, and hides out of sight as the man and the woman tumble down into it, still wearing the chains round their necks. There's a close-up of the following length of chain leading down into the hole in the ground.The boy suddenly notices what is happening ahead of him, as he sees another of the chaingang escape his bonds and scamper past the grave. The boy thinks he'll be like this man - one of the 'lucky ones', but he looks at the viewer with doubt on his face as he says "or am I?".

He looks behind him as he hears the sound of a van being driven up, and screeching to a halt. The van driver reaches his arm out and grabs the boy, breaking the chain around his neck as he pulls him into the cab of his van. Close-up of the drivers young and benevolent looking face as he speaks to the boy, who is still puffing grumpily on his cigarette. The driver says he stopped smoking because he couldn't afford it, thereby presenting perhaps a more logical argument against smoking to a young person, who often doesn't have that much money to spend. They drive away from the misery of the graveyard, and past brighter-looking fields of grass and trees. The driver castigates the boy on his ill-advised spending habits and there appears above the van an image of pound notes burning up in flames. Then images appear of goods that the boy could buy instead of cigarettes - a hand-held cine camera, a purple jacket and a couple of shirts - one with a colourful-looking kipper tie attached. These are followed by a radio, a portable record player with vinyl records all around it, and a suitcase with stickers on it -a close-up on the stickers shows them to say 'Bahamas', 'Spain' and 'Italy'. The van continues on its way, then we see the boy taking the cigarette out of his mouth, and looking doubtfully at it. Suddenly we see Nick's van speeding along the city streets, he slams on his brakes, craning his neck to get a view up out of the cab at the scene unfolding up ahead. The boy jumps out of the cab of the van next to a crowd of his schoolfriends, who are all standing there with fags in their mouths, looking anxiously at him. The boy grabs the cigarette from his mouth and throws it dramatically to the ground, whilst the music sounds a triumphant flourish. He looks back towrds the van and waves a happy goodbye to the driver and we hear the van driving away. A view of the schoolchildren's legs and feet shows cigarettes that have been thrown on the ground, as they've followed the other boy's example. They all stamp out the cigarettes, and say in unison 'me too'.

Nick in his little van is looking rather peeved, and shakes his fist, gets out of his van and tranforms into his biker with motorbike persona. He offers the kids a cigarette, but they shake their heads and offer him a 'game' instead. The boy runs past him, grabbing his hand as he does so. Then there's a close up of a football being dribbled along by football-boot clad feet, and the sounds of an audience cheering. The ball passes back and forth along the pitch, then flies up into the sky, coming down towards Nick the biker and the schoolboy who jumps up to header it, beating Nick to it. A close-up of his face shows him looking angry, and he changes momentarily back into devil-Nick. Then biker-Nick is standing ready to bat in a cricket game, wearing white shin-guards over his biker gear. The schoolboy bowls the ball towards him and it knocks over the stumps before he even has a chance to swing the bat. Again, a close-up of his face shows him looking angry as the crowd cheers, and he changes back into devil-Nick again. Next, a rugby ball is seen flying through the air, a schoolboy runs along and finally catches the ball, leaving biker-Nick to fall to the floor as he misses the catch. The boy runs back along the field with the ball, touching it down and scoring. Again the crowd cheer, and biker-Nick, still lying on the ground, looks rather embarassed, as does his alter-ego, devil-Nick. The next humiliation for him entails him rowing along in a racing-style boat in a team of scoolboys - his rowing technique is all wrong, and as they pass under a bridge he stands up and gets his head stuck on it, and falls into the river. We see his distorted face as he sinks under, which changes into devil-Nick once more. Devil-Nick shouts out "help" and we see a life-preserver thrown onto the surface of the water. Devil-Nick's head pops up in the middle of the ring and he triumphantly holds aloft a packet of cigarettes and says "Who wants a smoke? How about you?" and a close-up shows his hand with its long pointed fingernails offering the cigarette towards the camera. In unison the children answer "No thank-you". Nick takes a cigarette from the packet and puts it into his own mouth, but when he tries to light it with his 'thumb' lighter, the flame won't ignite, and he keeps angrily trying until there's a huge explosion, which clears to reveal the words 'The End' written inside the same smoke-ring frame.


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