Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without springs? Wonder no further. A Case of Spring Fever is one of the classic short films featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 that enforces a timeless lesson: be careful what you wish for. When Gilbert Everyman is stuck fixing his couch all afternoon, he screams out in frustration that he never wants to see another spring again, damn it! As he says this, an animated talking spring named Coily appears before him and grants his wish. That’s right. One frustrated remark against his people and Coily exacts revenge by eliminating every spring in the universe.
Coily ‘springs’ into action.
Gilbert quickly realizes just how much he relies on springs in his everyday life. He can’t close the blinds or use the phone. He can’t start his car or use the pedals. It’s a nightmare! Especially since every time Gilbert tries and fails at something that requires springs, Coily is there to mock him with his cackling cry: “NOOOO SPRINGS!” And it’s always accompanied by a bizarre two tone noise (‘bwee boo!’). I have no idea what that noise is intended to mean.
Maybe that’s how Coily farts.
Once he learns his lesson, Gilbert asks Coily if can take back his wish. “Okay,” Coily says, “but just this once.” Just like that, springs are back and all is right with the world. Coily’s gone, though the animation is so awful that he was barely visible in the first place. This may be due to a poor film transfer, but Coily is often placed against a white, overexposed background that he blends into throughout the short. In Coily’s absence, Gilbert spends the rest of the film annoying his golf buddies, describing the minutia of every single different way springs are used in everyday life.
There is a certain paradox, considering that Coily is a spring himself. With all the springs of the world taken away, should he not be vaporized as well? Is he some kind of God of springs, since he introduces himself as a ‘spring sprite’? In the end, he’s still shaped like a spring, and the word spring is in his title, so it stands to reason that he shouldn’t exist in a world without springs.
But the question that truly plagues me is, why? Why does this short exist? What purpose does a film like this serve? Nothing happens here – springs are taken away, then given back. Our protagonist learns to ‘appreciate’ springs as a result. But what’s the point? Usually these old black and white specials are either promoting some product or spreading propaganda for some war effort. A Case of Spring Fever doesn’t advertise anything specific, just springs and elasticity in general. So let’s investigate Coily’s message and try to figure out why someone thought it was important to share with the world.
Wikipedia to the rescue!
It turns out that A Case of Spring Fever was produced by Henry “Jam” Handy, a former Olympic swimmer who earned a Bronze Medal in the 1924 Olympic Games. Handy was an athlete-turned-producer responsible for a lot of bad promotional advertisement type films, especially for auto companies like general motors. Another short produced by The Jam Handy Organization, Hired!, also ended up on an earlier episode of MST3K.
According to tvtropes.org, A Case of Spring Fever was commissioned as an educational film to teach high school physics students the concept of Hooke’s law, which essentially states, you guessed it, that springs rule the world. Now if it’s true that you learn something new everyday, I just met my quota.