L’igiene di Tombolino (1932)
aka Tombolino’s Hygiene
Article 5511 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Luigi Pensuti
What it is: Cautionary public service animation
On a trip to the zoo, Tombolino encounters a doctor whose magnifying glass shows germs underneath his fingernails. Running to get away from the doctor, Tombolino trips and injures his knee, and then touches the wound with his unclean fingers. And then…
I remember once having had a nightmarish children’s book in which misbehaving children would have horrible things happen to them tied to their misbehavior; the one that sticks most in the memory for me was a thumb-sucking boy who had his thumbs cut off by a skinny fiend with a giant pair of scissors. I got roughly the same impression from this Italian animated short, in which a boy dreams he is dragged to hell by devils who release bacteria that enter his wounded knee, and the final scene involving the doctor is certainly ominous if you consider what instruments he’s pulling out of his doctor’s bag. There’s no listing on IMDB for this one, which I suspect may have been a public service film, as the end of the movie shows the boy giving his hands a thorough scrubbing. The print I saw had Italian subtitles which I can’t say I totally understood, but the story isn’t really that difficult to follow. This one was rather interesting.