While Burt Reynolds pulls them into theatres across the province with his latest hard-driving, fast-loving film, Smokey and the Bandit II, outspoken Saskatchewan Highways Minister Eiling Kramer has been coming to a slow boil. Not one to keep his often choice opinions to himself, Kramer is incensed by the movie’s glamorization of reckless driving and flaunting of the law. Each year his department spends more than $1.5 million to promote safe driving, money he thinks gets wasted when pli-
able young minds wheel into drive-ins to watch Reynolds go through his feature-length demolition derby. Kramer believes statistics that indicate one out of every 100 young men between the ages of 17 and 21 will be killed in car accidents in Saskatchewan this year are bad enough without movie titillation for incentive.
“You might as well give them all a shot of marijuana when they leave the theatres,” growled Kramer last week, after registering his disgust with the Film Classification Board. “Teen-age drivers are tough enough to control without these sorts of movies made by producers after the God Almighty Dollar.” His solution is to allow censors’ scissors to be used for more than sex and violence, or at least have the
movies carry warnings that they contain wild driving scenes. “To be honest,” says Kramer, “I don’t know of anyone who died in bed because of sex.”
Whether the call for censorship or warnings will ever make it into movie houses seems doubtful. Lynne Pearson, deputy consumer affairs minister responsible for the province’s Film Classification Board, says rather dutifully that Kramer’s suggestion about carrying warnings is being “looked at.” The problem is that for the past 40 years criteria for the board has been sex, violence and swearing. “If you add reckless driving to the list, then the next question is where do you stop?” explains Pearson.
Ken Bell, manager at Saskatoon’s Sundown Drive-In, might concur, but he still hopes Kramer keeps up with his off-the-cuff movie reviews. Bell says Kramer’s statements helped to double the take on the movie before it finished its four-week stand at the 700-stall drive-in. However, Bell has yet to witness drivers so infatuated with Smokey II, or movies like it, that they drove away with tires screaming. If legislators are going to worry about wild car chases on the screen, then Bell figures they would have to warn the public about the example set by Walt Disney Productions such as Herbie Goes Bananas. Kramer probably agrees. His four-year-old grandson has been weaned off TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard after the young tyke wiped out trying to jump his tricycle off the neighborhood curb. Dale Eisler
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