Title ID 1744Collection ID143
TitleUnguarded Moment
ThemeWorking Life Public Services
KeywordsAccidents Bicycles Cars Industry Labour Roads Motor Vehicles
LocalBlackheath Greenwich
RegionalGreater London
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionBlackheath Film Unit
CameraPaul W. Dixon
DirectorRalph Cathles
Commissioning bodyGreenwich Local Safety Committee
NarratorFranklin Englemann
CastYvonne Johnson; Paddy Going; Ron Smith; and members of the V.W.A.C. dramatic section
FormatBlack & White Sound
Duration5 min. 33 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A road safety film presented by Greenwich Local Safety Committee. The film describes the importance to the country of workers in British industry and warns against the dangers of being overly hasty when returning home after work. The fictional account shows three factory workers who risk death on the roads in their haste to get home.


The film shows a factory and its workers and describes their importance to British industry. The film introduces the characters of “Johnny” working at milling machine, “Mary” operating a card punching machine and engineer “Fred”, supervising the machinery. The workers are seen leaving the factory on foot, on bicycle and motorcycle as well as on the bus. Mary's bicycle appears to have a soft tyre. Johnny rides off on his motorcycle. Fred leaves on foot to catch the tram. Various street scenes show the rush hour traffic including trams and cars. Fred is shown working in the garden and Mary with her fiance. But in the newspaper [“Kentish Mercury, March 2, 1951] alongside adverts for the Odeon, and ABC cinemas, there is some news that shocks them. Johnny is also seen reading a newspaper and is shocked to see headlines and photographs about an accident: “Another Blackheath rush hour crash”; the photograph of a crash shows Johnny and his motorcycle in a collision with a car. In a newspaper [“Kentish Mercury, May 11, 1951] another headline reads: “Killed in his dash for a tram” and shows a photograph of Fred beneath the wheels of a tram. A further newspaper article reads “Soft tyre caused this cyclist’s death”. The fictional footage then shows Mary as the victim of a road traffic accident being pulled from under a car. The commentary states that these incidents were caused by “Foolish and selfish acts by foolish and selfish people”.


A still from Unguarded Moment (1951)A still from Unguarded Moment (1951)A still from Unguarded Moment (1951)

Contextual information

The Blackheath Film Unit was based in Leatherhead, Surrey. It specialised in producing educational, scientific, industrial and public relations films. Amongst these were a number of road safety films including 'Unguarded Moment' and 'Safe or Sorry'.

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