The first movie ever made in Canada about skateboarding is called “The Devil’s Toy,” and it’s a frothy 15-minute effort from 1966 depicting a couple dozen freewheeling youngsters gliding over the streets and parks of Montreal.
The weirdest thing about the “The Devil’s Toy” is that the people who commissioned the production may have been under the impression that this was to be a terrifying social guidance movie à la Troy McClure’s “Firecrackers: The Silent Menace,” but apparently the people who actually made the movie weren’t seeing it that way.
Three elements—the title; a portentous, nay grandiloquent dedication “to all victims of intolerance”; and a suitably over-the-top voiceover (one imagines someone like Gary Owens at the mic)—point to the movie’s ostensible purpose of alarming teenagers into selling their planks tout de suite—but for anyone with eyes to see, the movie clearly depicts youths having some harmless fun, plus precisely zero malign consequences are depicted as a result of the use of skateboards—not even a single scraped knee.
The director of “The Devil’s Toy” is Claude Jutra, an important figure in the history of Quebec film, responsible for 1971’s Mon oncle Antoine, among others. Based on “The Devil’s Toy” alone, there is no doubt that Jutra was a filmmaker of some talent. The proceedings are heavily influenced by the nouvelle vague, even as the effervescent score, featuring vocals by none other than Geneviève Bujold, can easily be imagined emanating from a Scopitone in some Gallic bistro.
Marc Campbell, my colleague here at DM, posted this gem back in 2012. He thinks “The Devil’s Toy” was intended to be a straight-up “mockumentary.” He might be right. That’s it’s so on the edge is what makes it even better.
By the way, can anyone clear this up? All sources seem to agree that the movie dates from 1966—it certainly feels like 1966—but “MCMLXIX” (1969) is plainly visible in the end credits, so I don’t know what’s up with that.
As stated, the scarifying elements of the movie seem well-nigh parodic. But as shocking social guidance films go, this one’s a pure delight.
h/t: Jeff Albers
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Black and white pictures of famous people on skateboards
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
from Dangerous Minds: