Financing the American Family (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #513 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This film, made by the Household Finance Corporation in the early 30s, presents a middle class family that is struggling with debts. The answer for these people, amazingly enough, is supposed to be getting another loan. The bank turns them down, saying that they can’t afford to deal with small borrowers. Just as they begin to sink into despair, they turn on the radio, which by an incredible coincidence is broadcasting a detailed infomercial about HFC. They go to HFC, and after they determine that they’re good housekeepers and all-around nice people by giving them a home inspection, they promptly get the $300 loan they’ve been wanting, which was quite a chunk of change back in the early 30s. The wife asks what would happen if her husband died or they otherwise lost his income. The loan officer placates them by saying they wouldn’t expect them to “do the impossible” and as long as they’re paying what they can, it’ll be ok (but he puts none of this in writing, so good luck if hubby really does kick the bucket). This film just screams early 30s in the way it was made, and its cheesily and charmingly earnest in its propositions, which probably seemed even more outrageous to Depression-era audiences, many of whom were wiped out because of borrowing, than to people today. The family depicted, though, doesn’t seem to be very hard hit by the Depression, so maybe they were ripe for this kind of solution. I wouldn’t laugh to hard at the film today, though, considering how debt-ridden most of us are.

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

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