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Anatomy of an Accident (1961)

| Short, Drama
When a telephone company employee and his family are involved in an automobile accident, an examination is made of the variety of things which might have caused the accident, and a number ... See full summary »

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Complete credited cast:
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John Avery
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Helen Avery
Ricky Kelman ...
Tommy
Ilana Dowding ...
Kathy
...
Minerva Todd
Edith Evanson ...
Carrie Tibbles
...
Woody
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When a telephone company employee and his family are involved in an automobile accident, an examination is made of the variety of things which might have caused the accident, and a number of safe-driving rules and tips are explained in this documentary short subject. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Short | Drama

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Good film, but unintended blame?
26 April 2008 | by (Eldridge, Iowa) – See all my reviews

Not a bad safety short, but I'm thinking there may have been some unfair blame placed on the father who swerved to avoid one collision but it ended up resulting in an even worse accident. See below for more.

The father, John, is a lineman for a telephone company. He takes his family of four (wife Helen, son, Tommy, and daughter, Kathy) up to see the in-laws. Prior to the trip, he does a thorough inspection of the car, having his son help demonstrate. Later, the family passes the scene of a multi-car pileup, caused in part when an elderly woman (driving an olive green car) didn't stop at a stop sign and the driver who had the right-of-way had to stop suddenly; several cars were following too close behind and thus, the accident. All along the road, John explains the principles of safe driving.

Later, the family comes up on the same old woman and her friend in the green car are driving very slowly (well below the posted speed limit) along a busy road; there are few passing lanes on the winding road. The woman finally decides to pull onto a side road but changes her mind at the last moment (the side road was "too dusty"); John tries to swerve around the old woman's car as she is attempting to pull back onto the road, but winds up colliding head-on with a semitruck driver. John is killed instantly; Tommy is knocked unconscious, while Helen and Kathy are bruised but OK. Of course, the old woman driver is nowhere to be found (she had earlier refused to stop at the accident in the city).

Herein lies my complaint — a post-moterm John blaming himself for the accident. However, I saw John as simply practicing defensive driving ... swerving to avoid one potential accident (with the inconsiderate woman, who probably should have pulled over when a line of cars formed behind her) but it didn't work out. He tells his son — who lays dying in the final scene — that his actions were too much of a gamble. Maybe, but in the age of two-lane roads, he had little choice to swerve to avoid one accident. Simply put, John was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Still, a very good safety film that should be re-made for modern audiences. Even this 1961 original would be a great teaching tool.


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