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Film Friday: 'All in One' presents the car as man's best friend, proposes dog power for a greener future

Fri, 21 Mar 2014

Remember the time Chevrolet built a dog-powered car?

Yeah, neither did we. And we're not even sure if the Bowtie was behind this canine-powered contraption, dubbed the "Bow-Wow Buggy" by this Jam Handy film's unwaveringly enunciative narrator (could it be Jam Handy himself?). But someone at Chevrolet had to have signed off on this, because this 1938 film reel is all about the virtues of automaker's brand-new automobiles. The dog-like virtues, that is.

After nearly three excruciating minutes of a collie herding sheep, the narrator walks us through the joys and benefits afforded by man's best friends. A dog helps a man cross the street. A dog plays in the yard. A dog poses at a dog show. There are so many dogs to see here, all doing dog things.

Including pulling a kid around on a dog cart, which is soon upgraded to a dog car. When that proves to be too heavy for one pooch to pull, its engineers -- in true old-school Detroit style -- simply add more dogs. No replacement for displacement!

On the surface, this cars-as-dogs concept doesn't really make a lot of sense, lending further credence to our theory that someone at Chevy and/or Jam Handy Productions wanted an excuse to spend a summer afternoon playing with dogs (fine by us). Cars won't bark when a stranger enters your yard, greet you when you open the door or help the blind get from point A to point B, at least until the dawn of autonomy. Still, the automobile is a dependable companion for modern life, so we suppose that whoever was responsible for the comparison wasn't entirely off-base.

We still think that sheep-herding scene could have been a minute or two shorter, though.

By Graham Kozak