American Harvest.

This slick, GM-sponsored film, part of the series which produced American Look, at first seems to be a tribute to farmers and miners and all others who produce raw materials. But there's something a little off about the tribute--corn is for making plastics and synthetic rubber, sugar is for carbon and lampblack, cattle are for producing leather--none of these raw materials seem to be for the purposes we usually think they are for. And then it becomes clear after awhile--these are all materials that are used to make cars. And the uses the auto industry makes of these materials are shown to be the only really important uses. Just about when we figure this out, the film turns into a sort of 50s version of Master Hands, only with much less effective visual imagery and lots of bombastic narration to tell us what we're supposed to think. And what we're supposed to think is that what's good for General Motors is good for the country. This becomes all too clear in the final segment of the film, in which we get to see how much the automobile has changed our lives and how wonderful it all is. I mean, isn't it great that we get to go to drive-ins and eat in the car instead of going to eat at a stuffy old sit-down restaurant? Or that rural children are bused to large consolidated schools with lots of other children instead of walking to small one-room schoolhouses? Or that boring old downtown business districts have been replaced with shiny new shopping malls in the suburbs? There's a large dose of the kind of corporate religion spouted in Round and Round, too--the word "interdependent" is used in practically every sentence. This film is rather boring and ordinary on the surface, but the more you think about it, the more appalling it becomes.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

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