The Days of Our Years was an educational short produced for Union Pacific Railroad in 1955. It's best known for its appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The three depressing stories in the film are warnings about taking life for granted, following safety measures, and that there are 70 days in each year.
The short starts with a pastor watching an ambulance go by, and musing about how many people around him fail to enjoy their full lifetimes because of carelessness. Thus he focuses on three members of his church, all railroad employees, who have had a tragedy occur to them. The first deals with a pair of young lovers who are eager to get marriednote . The second is about two co-workers planning their retirement and looking forward to spending their last few years happy and with their familiesnote . The final tale is about a young welder and father-to-be who is very happy and excited to see his new baby boynote .
Each story ends in tragedy. And tragedy that Union Pacific Railroad bears absolutely no responsibility for, nope.
- Bait-and-Switch: We're introduced to George, apparently confined to his front porch, and mention is made of some bitterness between him and the young man living across the street. At first it's made to seem that the neighbor is responsible for the accident that befell George; but it turns out that George himself is responsible for the accident... which killed the young man's father.
- Broken Aesop: Apparently, joy, sex, and old age are the leading causes of death.note
- Cruel Twist Ending/Downer Ending: Each story ends horribly for everyone involved.
- Joe and Helen are madly in love and can't wait to get married. Joe is so excited that he crashes his car, permanently injures himself, and has become so traumatized that he's no longer able to enjoy life, and he and Helen end up miserable together.
- Lifelong best friends George and Fred can't wait to spend their retirements with their families. George accidentally kills Fred in a train accident when he has a heart attack at the controls, and becomes a shut-in convinced that Fred's family will never forgive him.
- Charlie just can't wait for his wife to give birth to their first son. When he gets a call at work saying the baby has been born, Charlie startles a welder and gets blinded, robbing him of the opportunity to ever see his baby boy like he wanted.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Failing to use "gentle pressure" to get a co-worker's attention while using a blowtorch leads to nasty consequences, as Charlie O'Neil finds out the hard way.
- Drives Like Crazy: Joe is so happy to be engaged to Helen that he starts driving erratically. This leads to the car crash that effectively destroys his body and mind.
- Eye Scream: Charlie O'Neil gets his eyes burned out of his sockets when he startles a welder at work.
- Imagine Spot: In the first parable, the bride-to-be imagines life with her new hubby Joe — buying a tract house, making out in front of a fireplace, babies...
- Made of Iron: Despite standing in the back of a moving flatbed truck, Joes two work buddies survive a crash completely unscathed.
- Never My Fault: Notice that all of the accidents are purely the fault of the workers, never the management or equipment.note
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: It's implied that Fred's family blames George for accidentally causing Fred's death and bears a grudge against the poor guy, even though George couldn't have guessed that his discomfort before the accident was because he was about to have a heart attack at the controls.
- Panicky Expectant Father: Charlie O'Neil can hardly contain his excitement when his wife goes into labor. Everything goes to pot when he hears that she's actually given birth; poor Charlie gets so excited that he gets a facefull of a startled welder's blowtorch.
- Poor Communication Kills: George doesn't feel the need to tell anyone that he hasn't been feeling well lately. Perhaps if he'd taken a day off to see a doctor, he wouldn't have had that heart attack and Fred would've lived to see retirement.
- Ret Irony: Suffice it to say, lifelong best friends George and Fred don't get a chance to enjoy retirement with their families like they'd planned after 40+ years working at the railyard. Fred dies a horrific death when George has a heart attack while operating a train, and George spends the rest of his life as a miserable recluse convinced that Fred's grieving family hates him.
- Scare 'Em Straight: "Follow proper safety precautions or the universe will conspire to ruin your life!"
- Stop Trick: The "fastest sale on record".