Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's time to ponder the unorthodox gardening techniques of a 1941 film extra

Illustration for article titled It's time to ponder the unorthodox gardening techniques of a 1941 film extra
Screenshot: HD Retro Trailers (YouTube)

Spring is here and that means two things: It’s time to look longingly out the window during beautiful days spent in isolation and, if you’ve got a yard, climb into a hazmat suit to go tend to the plants. While there are plenty of tips out there for those who prefer traditional gardening methods, we’re pleased to share the discovery of some more unorthodox techniques first demonstrated by a background extra in 1941's You’ll Never Get Rich.

This unknown man’s innovative approach to plant care was brought to our attention by Emily Hagins, who noticed him toiling away in a scene from the Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth comedy. The extra stands at the edge of a barracks building with a shovel and, using a form of gardening seldom seen before, lightly pats and smooths the air just above the soil. At first this may seem like an inexplicable choice—a way to mime an action without actually doing it—but we’ve long heard rumors that obscure books on lawn care from the ‘30s and ‘40s may in fact reference “ghost-riding the crop” as a gentler way to encourage plant growth.


In replies to Hagins’ tweet, @Lukethomas101 provides another example of this art form in practice. A GIF shows Daniel Craig, as James Bond, sitting on a motorcycle while a man in the background sweeps a dock by suggesting that dirt and debris move aside, rather than crudely pushing it directly out of the way.

These film extras must both be practitioners of a largely-forgotten form of gardening and cleaning. They seem to have graduated from schools of broom and shovel usage that mainstream society has forgotten—have likely trained in the same remote mountaintop retreats. Or, maybe, as @thefontsavant and @anniejrhodes point out, these guys are just trying to avoid creating extra background noise while on set.


As rational as these explanations seem, we prefer the alternative viewpoint. The next time you’re tasked with turning over some soil or sweeping up a mess, try the approaches shown above and see for yourself if these strange film extra techniques don’t revolutionize your life. That’s the only way we’ll ever find a real answer.


Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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