Deadline for Action (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #409 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This film, made by the electrical workers’ union of the CIO in the late 40s, gives the other side of all those pro-business films also made during that time. It criticizes big companies like GE for cutting paychecks after the war, ostensibly because they could no longer afford to pay wartime wages. However, the union’s research showed that production and labor costs to the company had actually gone down and that the pay cuts were done to increase profits. But it goes a lot further than just that issue, pointing out how American big business is getting bigger and bigger and more and more powerful. It also points out the links big American companies had with Axis companies during the war, and equates big businesses dream of an “American Century” with the Nazi goal of world domination. The answer is shown to be participating in strikes and voting the union ticket. This is actually pretty scary to watch, because I’m sure things are ten times worse now in terms of big business dominating government. Of course, it’s hard to tell without doing your own research how accurate the film is, just as with the pro-business films of the period––it’s obviously meant to be propaganda. It is a fascinating account of union political views of the period. It also has lots of great propaganda graphics, including smashing fists and a giant octopus to represent big business. And there’s a memorable, though somewhat puzzling, scene to represent the concept of 31 million dollars (how much of America’s assets are controlled by Morgan interests): They don’t just talk about laying that much money in $100 bills end-to-end; they show a guy discovering the line of bills on the sidewalk and trying to pick them all up. A memorable film overall.

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

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