A journey into some weird world where gasoline was used to clean clothes

Video: “More Dangerous Than Dynamite” (1941)
[Via Boing Boing]

Note to self: Stop washing clothes in gasoline.


The first 3 minutes seemed like normal safety stuff – no smoking in bed, no turning on lights when standing in the bath tub, no frayed wires. All things that could start fires.

Then it took a turn for the weird with an admonition not to use gasoline to clean your clothes in the kitchen. So, they start off with a nice safety message to lull us in and then hit us with the real point – don’t use gasoline for cleaning your clothes. I guess the film worked because I do not know any people who clean their clothes this way anymore.

It is amazing how real problems from a generation ago are simply gone. Now we try to get gasoline smell out of clothes not into them. The movie short really shows how much things have changed in about 70 years.

This one is obviously focussed on women and gasoline. “The woman using gasoline in her kitchen or elsewhere in the home, with a false idea of economy, does not fully realize the true high explosive character of a mixture of air and gasoline vapor.” As men could be as stupid with gasoline as women, I have to figure that their movie short is somewhere else. Maybe something like this one from 10 years later or so. Not nearly as dramatic as the female one.

I love how all the newspaper articles only describe women being killed or burned. Meanwhile, other headlines that are much smaller state “Hundreds Killed In Chinese Quakes”, “Diogenes in a sheet is ruled disorderly”, and “3000 Additional Japanese Troops arrive in China”,

So we watch in dread as she soaks some shirts in a basin full of gasoline. Using her hands. And fixing tea is always a good thing when using gasoline to clean clothes. I thought the open gas flame would do the damage. But it was the invisible menace of static electricity that does her in.

The subsequent explosion and fire could have killed her if not for the man who grabbed her hysterical body and wrapped it up in a blanket. Resulting in the men of the fire department having to answer the call.

Meanwhile the Reputable Dry Cleaning Company – an obvious pseudonym – is run by men who know what they are doing. They are experienced and licensed by the state. They are inspected by uniformed men.

Nice. Let the men keep women from burning themselves and their kids up. He still did not prevent her from the shaking head of the doctor. Is she dead? “No fortunately not in this case.But their pretty mother, withered and scarred, for life.” Glad there is a happy ending. Should have had that sliding door.

Or course, I love reading the ‘paper’ when they come spinning into focus. In this last one there is a great headline that caught my attention more than ” Home ‘Dry Cleaning Explosion Disfigures Woman for Life.” It is ” Mercury New X-Ray Source, two scientists say.” Looks like they are from the University of California and used a high-powered vacuum tube to make their finding. I had not heard of using mercury as an X-ray source, but the only things I could find that might be relevant were from the late 1920s and involved Harvard men.

Did you notice that when they had the ‘demo’ fire at the Reputable Dry Cleaning Company the doors closed, tapping the men inside? The one conscious guy opened the door and then pined it open with a heavy can. I bet that actually violates some regulation. It seems idiotic to require fire doors but then make it okay to block them open. I would assume that the Reputable Dry Cleaning Company would be cited for breaking that regulation.

Where is Mystery Science Theatre 3000 when we need them?well, there is the next best thing. For 99 cents you can have RiffTrax do it.

[Listening to: You’re So Sweet from the album “Hot August Night (Live) [Remastered]” by Neil Diamond]