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Film / Stop Look and Listen

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Stop Look and Listen is a 10-minute 1967 comedic short film created by Len Janson and Chuck Menville.

A man (Janson) dressed as the picture of 1960s middle-class suburban respectability steps out his front door and goes into his garage. Exhaust belches out the garage door and the man backs out—except that he has no car. He is, in fact, simply sitting on the road, making all the motions of driving his vehicle as he slides along the roadway on his rear end.

The man continues to drive, turning his invisible steering wheel, tapping his invisible gas pedal and brake. He passes an invisible bus with driver and passengers sitting on the road, except for the two passengers that are standing on the road as they hold on to invisible hanging straps. Eventually, the man is challenged by a second driver (Menville), who by his speed and by the noises of his invisible vehicle is apparently driving a sports car. The second driver is very unsafe, tailgating, making aggressive turns and lane changes, continually antagonizing the first, much more safe and responsible driver.

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Often seen as an interstitial on Turner Classic Movies.


Tropes:

  • And the Adventure Continues: After the unsafe driver is towed way, the safe driver is waiting at a traffic light when a fetching woman (actually Chuck Menville in drag) pulls up next to him. The safe driver's Male Gaze tracks up her body from her legs to her face, which is when she's revealed to be smoking a cigar like the unsafe driver was and wearing identical sunglasses. After the woman flashes the same demonic grin, the film ends.
  • Banana Peel: The second driver's aggressiveness eventually causes the first driver to drop the peel of the banana he was eating, which falls in the street. The peel then causes the second driver to spin out when he runs over it.
  • Credits Gag: The opening credits have a long list of automobile organizations, which is undercut by the message afterwards saying "...without whose contribution this film was made." And one of those organizations is "United Tailgaters."
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  • The End: Done with a shot of a street sign that says "END".
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first driver comes out looking like a responsible businessman, with his suit, his hat, and his square glasses, and he's immediately shown to be careful by how he backs the car out of his garage. The second driver is heard to be recklessly screeching through a parking garage before we even see him. Then when he pulls out of the garage, he clamps a cigar in his mouth and starts shaving with an electric razor, before pulling out into traffic and speeding away.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The unsafe driver is ticketed, and eventually wrecks his car.
  • Right Way/Wrong Way Pair: The safe driver and the unsafe driver are this. The safe driver is obeying the speed limit, signaling when he turns, changing lanes responsibly. The unsafe driver is speeding and cutting people off and swerving through traffic and tailgating. The unsafe driver suffers the consequences, getting a speeding ticket before eventually wrecking his "car".
  • Silence Is Golden: No dialogue in the short, but ambient noise, like the car sound effects and the first driver whistling.
  • Stop Motion: Employs a technique called "pixilation" in which live-action actors are used in a stop-motion effect where the camera's turned on and off as they're repositioned.
  • Surrealism: It seems that the people in the short somehow are the cars. The safe driver frowns when the trickle of water running through the street gutter gets the seat of his pants wet. The unsafe driver stops at a gas station and drinks gasoline. Yet at other times they behave more like people, such as when the unsafe driver chases the safe drive into an apartment building and down the fire escape.
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: The only hand-drawn animation in the short comes when the unsafe driver does this, after he wrecks his transmission and starts sliding down an incline out of control. (He eventually rolls into a ditch.)

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