Title ID 4921Collection ID657
TitleDressed for Drowning
Date[ca. 1960s]
CollectionEltham Cine Society / John Purvis Howard
ThemeCine Club Film-making Fashion
KeywordsAccidents Boats Swimming Clothing Suits
RegionalEast Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionJohn Howard
CameraJohn Purvis Howard
NarratorMary Rosenberg
Other creditsGerard Sayer (Cartoons)
FormatColour Sound
Duration7 min. 40 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


A colour film with music and commentary, humorously but clearly explaining how to use items of clothing as floats for personal survival in water.


This film was made by John Howard, for the Worthing Water Safety Committee. The film has animated titles: "Dressed for Drowning, An introduction to personal survival". The film then starts with cartoon images with accompanying commentary "Have you ever fallen out of an aeroplane? Consider how awkward this could be. Or have you fallen from the stern of a ship? ... Perhaps you might just fall off the harbour wall instead." The film then changes to live action, showing a bowler hat floating on water. "This bowler hat once had an owner - a city gent who hadn't learned to save himself. He's underneath it." A city gent in a bowler hat with a briefcase, umbrella and newspaper stands by the edge of a swimming pool. The commentary continues, "But consider now, this other city gent. Let's undress him." The man's clothes disappear bit by bit. "Each item of his clothing could help to save him." A man in the swimming pool then shows how to use trousers "as an aid to personal survival". Similarly, a boy removes his shirt in the pool "calmly and without panic" and, as with the trousers, traps air in the shirt to use as a float. A woman in the pool uses her skirt in the same way. The woman also shows how to trap air in her blouse. "What's coming off next?" asks the commentary. "In a bathing costume, this could be more tricky". The woman is then seen in the pool with the swimming costume off, using it as a float. "Well I suppose it can be done". Over images of boats on Brooklands Boating Lake in Worthing, the commentary states "you may not always fall into a swimming pool or a boating lake, but wherever you fall, these methods can be used to save your life". A final title reads "If you want to learn more about personal survival, ask your local swimming club". "Worthing Water Safety Committee".


A Still from 'Dressed for Drowning' (1960s) showing a 'city gent' semi-dressed by a swimming poolA Still from 'Dressed for Drowning' (1960s) showing Brooklands Boating Lake in Worthing