Friday A/V Club: 'The Irresistable Authority of Tear Gas'

An industrial film for riot cops.


Hey, cops! Thinking about investing in a supply of tear gas but not sure it's worth the dough? The Lake Erie Chemical Company ("There is a Lake Erie grenade or shell for every problem") makes a pitch for the product in Tear Gas in Law Enforcement, a 1962 industrial film that explains just how much damage a "riotous mob" can do if you don't have a chemical agent on hand:

Fair warning: The how-to section of the film—roughly from 1:30 to 17:13—can get pretty dull, though even it has its moments. But the opening minute and a half are mesmerizing. There's something about the flat tone the narrator brings to the overwritten copy that elevates this part of the picture out of the realm of mere countersubversive rhetoric and into the bulldada zone. And check out the "simulated riot" (shot in Berkeley!) at 22:28. As John Seal says, "It's like a dress rehearsal for the end of the decade, only with well-groomed demonstrators."

(For past installments of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)