Another (more genteel) way of saying "Put your head between your legs and kiss your sweet ass goodbye." A "civil defence" measure used to provide some measure of protection during an earthquake or a nuclear attack. I'm not kidding about that, BTW. See the Cold War documentary "Atomic Cafe" for a cute little cartoon turtle advising school children:

"So when you see the H-Bomb flash, DUCK and COVER!"

The Internet Archive has this movie in their collections for everyone to download or stream (DivX, MPEG2 and Real formats). I just saw this in full for the first time. Before that I had only seen a part of it in some episode of Quantum Leap (I think).

The film was made in 1951, by Archer Productions and sponsored by U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration. Run time roughly 10 minutes, black and white.

It has a turtle called Bert, who, of course, ducks and covers masterfully. It shows how to cover oneself in case of nuclear strike: Get under tables or against the walls, away from windows, lie down and put head between legs or agains wall, and protect your neck (this is important). It also shows that even shallowest wall or even the thinnest cloth can easily protect you from the evil and disastrous atomic explosion and fallout.

(Of course, these gimmicks actually work, but that saying these actually protect you enough in a nuke strike is like trying to play a contrabass by blowing.)

Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis tagline gets the point across much more truthfully, of course: "If you see the flash, it's already too late."

Sing along, kiddies! Just follow the bouncing ball!

Dum-dum
deedle-dum-dum
deedle-dum-dum
deedle-dum-dum

[Bert, wearing a standard issue GI helmet, meanders blithely along a tree-lined suburban road, smelling the flowers.]

There was a turtle by the name of Bert
and Bert the turtle was very alert.
When danger threatened him he never got hurt;
he knew just what to do:

[A strangely emotionless monkey dangles a stick of cartoon dynamite next to Bert's head. Bert disappears into his shell, leaving the suicide bomber to vaporize himself alone.]

He'd duck...
and cover!
Duck...
and cover!

[Flashback! Monkey! Oh shit! Kaboom! Goddamn monkey!]

He did what we all must learn to do
(you and you and you and you):
duck...
and cover!

Be sure and remember what Bert the turtle just did friends, because every one of us must remember to do the same thing. That's what this film is all about: duck, and cover.

THIS IS AN OFFICIAL CIVIL DEFENSE FILM PRODUCED IN CO-OPERATION WITH THE FEDERAL CIVIL DEFENSE ADMINISTRATION AND IN CONSULTATION WITH THE SAFETY COMMISSION OF THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION.


This is followed by what modern audiences could only describe as spectacularly cheesy footage of children (with only token adults present, sort of like a Disney film) attempting to prepare for or cope with nuclear assault. They line up in neat rows, turn their faces away from the windows of school buses, drop their bikes to hide in the gutter, obey passing authority figures, duck, and, yes, cover. Everyone remains eerily calm throughout, and no one ever even pretends to be hurt.


Duck and Cover! is available for download in various formats courtesy of the Prelinger Archive at

http://www.archive.org/movies/details-db.php?collection=prelinger&collectionid=19069

According to the "Rights" statement at http://www.archive.org/movies/prelinger.php, all movies in this collection are in the public domain. (CST Approved.)

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