RVOD077 Cork—Crashes and Curiosities

(1940s maybe?, Newsreel/Short, b&w)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Irish Sweep is made of people!

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:

Racing scenes from the dawn of motor vehicles, and something called “Irish Sweep”.


Just look at all those corks.  Corks flyin' every which way.A narrator delivers an unstructured, stream-of-consciousness paean to race cars, motorcycles and other things that go fast in a rapid-fire Irish accent. Vehicles swerve through country roads, up steep hills, past many, many signs with enormous letters proclaiming “Irish Sweep”. (These are never explained.) Exotic, faraway locales such as Siam and Indianapolis are referenced. And then, without warning, it ends.


I’m not sure what the narrator is trying to tell us, but his enthusiasm for it (whatever it is) is contagious. That and his adorable Irish accent make this short a treat to watch. Adding to the short’s entertainment value is an abundance of goofy crash footage, with no fatalities to bring the audience down. I suspect that a large part of the latter has to do with a certain amount of selectivity on the part of the editor. I suspect that that an even larger part has to do with the fact that this footage comes from the days before cars went much faster than a running pace.

A few of my favorite lines from the commentary track: When a collection of non-sequiturs and Irish pronunciation derails the narration, Kevin wants to know, “Is he speaking Esperanto?” After the short pushes through demonstrations of at least a dozen different vehicles in rapid succession, Mike summarizes, “Things with wheels, won’t you?” As a race car rounds a turn and pulls ahead, Bill adds, “[Now] Wario flattens him with a red shell.” We hear many comments about the unknown nature of “Irish Sweep”, until about the fourth of fifth time, after which the three of them intone “Irish Sweep, Irish Sweep” in a zombie moan every time it appears. They giggle along with us when the narrator says things like “har-pin turn” and “cazooality.” Nonsense or no, the short has an infectious joy to it, and the commentary mirrors that.