Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crashing the Water Barrier

TCM is running several shorts on Sunday morning to pad out the schedule, with the last of them being Crashing the Water Barrier at about 11:48 AM. This being a one-reeler, there's not much time to develop anything, but like the old Traveltalks shorts, it's still an interesting document.

The subject is Donald Campbell, a man who was the son of a car-racer who tried to set land speed records. Campbell is following in his father's footsteps, except that he is now trying to set speed records on water. In fact, Campbell woud eventually be killed in 1967 in an attempt to break the water speed record, and there's another film called The Price of a Record dealing with this. But this movie is made in a happier time, when everybody knew the danger of trying to set speed records, but nobody believed (rightly, as it turned out), that this was going to be the attempt that ended in tragedy.

Anyhow, this short plays out with narration much like the RKO Screenliner shorts, except that it was made by Warner Bros. The color should be a giveaway; RKO wouldn't have had the money to make a short like this in color. It shows the preparations for the attempt, and how absolutely calm water on Lake Mead were needed for the attempt, which involves running a set distance, and then running the same distance in the opposite direction, to negate any possible assistance from the wind. It's not much, but it's an interesting look at a world most of us would never experience.

It's the sort of short that would fit in as an extra for a Warner Archive release of one of the old movies about car racing, or maybe boat racing although there are a lot fewer of those. But, I don't think that's happened yet.

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