Made in the U.S.A. (film #867 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 30s film was designed to teach American citizens that foreign trade is vital to the American way of life. The film does this by telling a goofy story about a guy who goes to a general store and hears a cracker barrel philosopher spout off about how we don’t need to get anything from them there foreigners, ‘cause we can get everything worth having right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. At this point, a traveling magician pitches his show by making some Brazil nuts disappear. The main character, though, has narcolepsy, and so he promptly falls asleep and has a weird dream where he and his wife are driving home with the magician, who makes everything imported from a foreign country disappear when he says the country’s name. Naturally, this makes the car fall apart, as well as getting rid of most of the groceries the wife bought. After waking up from the dream, the guy now sees the light about foreign trade, and can talk back to the local xenophobe, though it doesn’t do any good. I love this sort of supernatural visitor plot, though it’s unusual to find it in a government film. There’s also something charmingly old fashioned about the film, with its general store, cracker barrel philosopher, and confidence in American manufacturing. Not even a rube like the xenophobic guy would ever think to insist that everything good is made in America, considering how little is made here nowadays. I also love the old grocery products and the scenes of the car falling apart.

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

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