As far as 1970s Public info films go, The Finishing Line has to be the most overlooked and hard hitting of them all. View it here and draw your own conclusions.
In 1977, a short film was produced in Britain to discourage children
from playing on the railway lines and vandalizing trains—both problems
in England at the time. But the documentary-style production did more
than that: it scared the knickers off of kids and riled up their
parents. The subsequent controversy surrounding this educational short
was so great that it was ultimately banned. Even today, watching it is a
shocking experience not soon forgotten.
Commissioned by British Transport Films (BTF) to be shown in schools, The Finishing Line (1977) is perhaps the most notorious educational film ever produced. The 20 minute short is akin to a gory episode of The Twilight Zone,
or a Rod Serling-directed fake documentary. The atmosphere is so odd
and the child body count so high, that it’s a wonder anyone thought this
was a good idea to show to kids (the ages of the target audience was
eight through twelve). Put simply, it’s a child’s nightmare come to life
on the screen.
The film was directed by John Krish, a BTF veteran; Krish’s The Elephant Will Never Forget (1953), which documented the end of London’s tram system, is still one of the organization’s most popular movies. In a 2013 interview with the magazine devoted to blood spilled on the screen, Fangoria, the 90-year-old Krish said he was surprised BTF even wanted to make The Finishing Line:
I came up with this idea of a sports day on the railway
line, and I was absolutely sure they would turn it down so that I could
get on with something else, and bugger me, they loved it. They loved it!
The psychologist in the British Transport’s employ said, ‘This is
exactly what we need!’