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Signals: Read 'Em or Weep (1981)

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ephemeral film | See All (1) »

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Short | Documentary

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1981 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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It's just not the same without Three-Finger Joe
27 February 2015 | by (los angeles, ca) – See all my reviews

This is a follow-up to another Centron/Caterpillar collaboration, "Shake Hands with Danger". At one point, we even see someone reading a brochure with that title. The message is much the same: Read and follow the maintenance and operating instructions of heavy equipment. Here, there is an additional point, encouraging workers to notice and respond to visual or audible signs that something may be wrong.

This time the emphasis is on mistakes that lead to damaged equipment. Only a couple illustrated incidents are at all comparable to the parade of actual or narrowly averted death and dismemberment portrayed in the earlier film. As a result of the lessened stakes, the film holds reduced interest for a viewer outside the intended audience. Also, there's no equivalent to the memorable country music jingle (about Three-Finger Joe) in "Shake Hands".

While the basic message of the film is no doubt still relevant, the fact that it is illustrated with technology from a third of a century ago probably renders it ineffective as a training aid. If it holds any interest today, it is presumably for devotees of ephemeral films.

Although in no way the fault of the filmmakers, it may be worth noting that the only place I know where this is available, Internet Archive, has a copy in poor condition.


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