‘Highway Mania?’ — This ‘driver safety’ video was made by NJDMV in the 1930s
Oh my God. Remember when times were simple and the only care in the world New Jersey had was a bad driver? God Bless you, YouTube! For without you, classics like this would be lost forever.
This classic 1937 "movie" is an actual short MOVIE — produced by the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles; a movie complete with credits, B-roll and bad dialogue. And, like those instructional films of a bygone era (think "reefer madness") it's overdone, melodramatic, cheesy and ridiculous.
But the funniest part of this "driver safety" film is that it's serious (although I had to watch it a couple times to be sure).
It was produced back in 1937 to warn New Jersey drivers about the dangers of driving their Fords, Plymouths and Packers in a careless way. The film opens with the ominous title "Highway Mania" superimposed over a shot of a very scary dude — presumably a REALLY bad driver — emitting a blood curdling scream/moan; the better to teach you what "scary" means.
The very stuffy and humorless New Jersey governor at the time, Harold G. Hoffman, stars in the film and the equally clueless "Commissioner MacGee" appears alongside him, describing the horrible "threat" that is reckless driving and the "fiend" who wreaked havoc on Garden State highways back in the day.
This fully-produced motion picture probably cost them a fortune and probably came straight from the taxpayers. It probably did nothing but make the participants feel good about themselves. Doesn't that sound like the New Jersey we know and love? Some things never change.
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