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Yes, I am writing a post about my time with Boodles, but in the meantime here’s the third installment of our Random Movie Review Project. For more details on how it works, what the Random Quote Whore Quote means, etc. Click here.

Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip

Director:
Ken Burns

Writer:
Dayton Duncan

Cast:
Keith DavidNarrator (voice)
Tom HanksHoratio Nelson Jackson (voice)
Adam ArkinOther Voices (voice)
Tom BodettOther Voices (voice)
Philip BoscoOther Voices (voice)
Kevin ConwayOther Voices (voice)
Amy MadiganOther Voices (voice)

Country:
USA

Language:
English

Release Date:
6 October 2003 (USA)

Ratings:
IMDB: 8.2/10
Netflix: 3.9/5

I am so loving this project! I had never heard of this Ken Burns documentary before Movie Roulette gave it to me. This movie was originally broadcast on PBS in 2003 on the 100th anniversary of the events it depicted.

In 1903, a Vermont doctor named Horatio Nelson Jackson was visiting the University Club in San Francisco when he overheard some of the club members saying that this newfangled automobile was nothing but a passing fancy and would never truly be a practical means of transportation. Jackson disagreed and a quest was born. Jackson accepted a bet for $50 ($1,183.35 in 2008 dollars) that he could drive a horseless carriage across the country from San Francisco to New York City in 90 days. This in spite of the fact that he did not own a car, didn’t have a lot of experience driving them, and two previous attempts by other men had failed.

He hired a young mechanic and chauffeur, Sewall K. Crocker, bought a used 1903 Winton touring vehicle, rounded up some supplies, and was off five days later. Along the way, Jackson picked up a third team member: A pit bull named Bud.

What I appreciate about Ken Burns is that he doesn’t overdo re-enactments like so many of the docs you see on The History Channel and elsewhere. You can be a total purist and say that re-enactments should never be done – they look cheesy because a doc doesn’t have the budget of a Hollywood historical film – and I might even agree with you, but if it’s a movie you’ve got to put something on the screen. It’s a controversial issue and here are a couple of links from documentarians who have struggled with it:

http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-03/stange/index.shtml

http://www.valleyadvocate.com/ article_print.cfm?aid=12025

One of the problems with this one is that it bogs down in the middle due to a constant recitative of car trouble/optimistic letter from Jackson to his wife/solution/repeat. What saves the movie is the fact that shortly after Team Jackson starts out, two other teams also set out to do the same thing. Unlike Jackson, these teams are sponsored by the makers of the automobiles (Packard and Oldsmobile) and the teams were supplied along their routes with parts, gas, etc. via train. Jackson had none of this support. These other teams began to make up time on Jackson, and with their introduction we now have heroes and villains. That helps the movie along.

In case you’re wondering why you don’t see many Wintons on the road these days, I did extensive research: Winton manufactured cars from 1898-1924. By the 1920s The Winton Motor Carriage Company had failed to keep up with sales of other car makers, parts of the company continued to make engines until 1936 when it was sold to GM.

The Misplaced Boy MST3K Movie Scale

Remember that the scale goes from Dr. Forrester (bad) to Joel (good). But this movie is a special case, so I giving it a one of a kind rating. I’m giving it a…

Horatio

Just kidding…I’m giving it a…

Mike

And finally, my Random Quote Whore Quote:

“Horatio’s Drive is a corking, handwritten doper of a movie! Ken Burns is introrse!!!”

If you disagree. If you find Ken Burns to be…um…very much not introrse. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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