Black Marketing (film #224 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This film has an imposing beginning: “THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT PRESENTS" appears over scary, dramatic music. I've seen lots of government films, but none that begin that way. That would make a great opening sequence for just about any film or video you'd care to make. It begins a rather poorly-made film about black market meat trafficking during World War II. The entire film is narrated by a U.S. attorney addressing a jury in a very echoey courtroom. He presents a conspiracy by several shady-looking businessmen (who sit in the courtroom wiping sweat from their faces and looking generally nervous throughout the film) to buy and sell meat under the table at inflated prices. By an incredible coincidence, the ringleader of the racket is named Mr. A and his cronies are named Mr. B, Mr. C, Mr. D, Mr. E, and so forth all the way down the alphabet. Scenes are shown of members of the racket, who all dress, smoke, and generally act like gangsters, making shady deals with local butchers in the most suspicious-looking ways possible ("Got another 'soup bone' for me this week, mister (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more)?"). A title card at the end of the film tells us that all the people in the film are really law-abiding, decent folks who volunteered to help their country by portraying the "chiseling saboteurs" in this film. So I guess they were just kidding. I'm sure there really was some black market activity during the war, but this film is as unconvincing as all get-out.

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

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