Daniel DiManna
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Weird Old Car Shorts: ‘The Talking Car’ (1953)

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The Talking Car
Old cars and cartoon faces do not mix. Trust me on this one…
Photo: dave_7 via CC

In a previous article on the topic of bizarre old car-related short films, we discussed a somewhat terrifying short from 1969 called The Talking Car. In it, a little boy named Jimmy is reprimanded by a small army of cartoon-faced vehicles for not taking traffic safety seriously. It seemed like a one-and-done deal; after all, what are the odds that more than one short about talking cars exists? Well, as it turns out, there is another one. And wouldn’t you know it, this one is also called The Talking Car. Here we go again.

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The other ‘The Talking Car’

As with the 1969 version of The Talking Car, this second short was also created to help children avoid fatal traffic accidents. The twist: this short is actually older than the 1969 version. 16 years before Jimmy tested the patience of three grumpy cars, the first version of The Talking Car was educating the kids of 1953. Who knew that there was an entire Talking Car cinematic universe out there.

The 1953 short tells the tale of two siblings, Jack and Mary, who are on their way home from school. When they attempt to cross an intersection too early, a mysterious voice chides them for the oversight. The two kids attempt to locate the source of the voice, and happen to notice a shiny red 1953 Chevy Bel Air parked near them. Before their horrified eyes, the Chevy suddenly sprouts a cartoon face, complete with disturbingly pouty lips. Yikes.

The car then reveals that he’s been following and watching the kids all day to monitor their traffic safety knowledge. If that weren’t unsettling enough, he continually describes his emotions with car-related terminology. At one point, he literally says the following sentence: “Just watching you learning the signs and rules of traffic and pedestrian safety made my carburetor skip a jump.” Double yikes.

By the time the 12-minute short concludes, both Jack and Mary have proven their traffic safety knowledge. The talking car wishes them well, and the kids run home to have plenty of nightmares.

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Although unintentionally creepy today, The Talking Car is a fascinating reminder of a more innocent time. With any luck, children watching it in the 50s were a bit safer for having done so. You can watch this short for yourself here thanks to its public domain status.