From 1959, here’s a short film that asks the question, “What made Sammy speed?”
(I’m going to guess that the title is meant to pay homage to the novel, What Makes Sammy Run?)
Sammy Robertson (played, in flashbacks, by David Felshaw) was a popular high school student until he was killed when his car collided with a truck. A local detective tries to figure out what caused the accident to happen. To be honest, I’m not really sure why there’s any question as to why it happened. Sammy was speeding. He ran a stop sign. The truck crashed into his car. It’s tragic and there’s definitely a lesson to be learned about paying attention to the road but it’s not particularly complicated. It really doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would require a massive criminal investigation. It’s not like Sammy was smuggling drugs or drinking or driving or anything like that. At most, the cops might want to ask themselves why the stop sign was at such a strange angle.
Still, since there’s apparently no other crimes being committed in this town, the detective spends a few days talking to Sammy’s relatives and his friends and trying to figure out why Sammy felt it was okay to speed. (The driver of the truck, meanwhile, is totally let off the hook. How fast was he going because it looks like he really messed up Sammy’s car.) The detective learns that Sammy’s father wasn’t a particularly good driver. He learns that Sammy’s little brother looked up to Sammy whenever he would drive fast. He learned that Sammy’s friends were impressed by his car and his total lack of concern when it came to safety. (That said, most of them still refused to ride with him. They knew better than to risk their chances to attend the next sock hop.) He learns that, shortly before the accident, Sammy’s boss couldn’t give him a raise and that Sammy failed in his attempts to join the school’s baseball team. Broke and not destined for athletic glory, Sammy needed to feel like a man so he ignored the speed limit and the stop sign. He had issues with authority, the detective tells us.
Yes, the detective tells us a lot. That’s because this is a Sid Davis production and no Sid Davis production was complete without a judgmental narrator. In this case, the narrator decides that everyone was to blame for Sammy driving too fast so I guess the message here is to let a bad player on the team and always give your employees a raise whether you can afford it or not. If you don’t, the worst possible thing that could happen will happen. That was another frequent Sid Davis lesson. The worst always happens, no matter what. That said, my main takeaway from this film was that Sammy was just naturally self-destructive. It really doesn’t sound like anyone could have saved Sammy. Sammy’s enemy was not the coach, his boss, his father, the cops, or even his little brother. Sammy’s greatest enemy was himself.
Anyway, here’s a blast from the past from 1959. Watch it the next time you’re tempted to drive too fast.