Everyone thinks Canadians are so polite and deferential, but apparently when they get behind the wheel, they turn in to monsters. That’s the conclusion one comes to after viewing the National Film Board’s 1950 classic about road rage, Gentleman Jekyll and Driver Hyde, discovered by Mark Byrnes of Citylab.
Written by Donald Mulholland and directed by the very prolific David Bairstow, the story opens with two truck drivers discussing what happens when an ordinary polite citizen of Toronto gets behind the wheel. Author Brad Middleton notes that “Oddly enough, the driver and his co-worker are reminiscent of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of The Honeymooners, even though this short was produced five years before the TV series.”
Before, in Gentleman Jekyll mode, our driver opens doors, helps people, is polite as can be. Behind the wheel in Driver. Hyde mode, he drives like a maniac, yells at everyone, races through school zones and is just generally a horrible person wearing horrible makeup.
Meanwhile, our truck driver is just an angel, with a medal to prove it. He complains that professional drivers get all the blame, but that it's the amateurs that cause all the crashes; some would argue the point today.
There is stock footage of New York City and Montreal, but I challenge Torontonians to recognize their city as they race through it.