Freedom of the American Road (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #563 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 50s film, sponsored by Ford, emphasizes the need for better highways so that Americans can go places lots faster and the landscape can be further dominated by the automobile. How better highways were built in four different parts of the country is shown. It mostly involves the grass-roots efforts of ordinary citizens, yet the sponsored nature of the film makes you wonder how grass-roots these efforts really were. All changes that result from bigger and faster highways are shown to be beneficial in all ways. The campiest part of the film is the last segment, which shows the citizens of St. Joseph, Missouri taking a safety campaign to near mind-control proportions. Jaywalkers are photographed by “concerned citizens” and handed leaflets telling them how wrong they are. Of course, cars are never dangerous, only drivers. This is a prime example of the sponsored “public service” film that really exists to serve corporate agendas.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

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