Food for America (available for download from Open Video Project. Also available for download from Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

This 50s film tells you way more than you want to know about the Beatrice Foods Company, using one of the hokiest framing devices ever. Mrs. Hargraves, an excessively polite housewife, is assigned by her church women’s group to do a paper on the food industry. Obviously she’s seen and taken to heart the film How to Prepare a Class Report, because she gets the idea off of a milk bottle to visit the local Meadow Gold plant and then immerses herself in a truly obsessive research project, by using her family’s vacation to visit darn near every Beatrice foods plant in the country. At every plant, including corporate headquarters, she is warmly welcomed by the man in charge, and they exchange very stilted conversation about the company after she goes on the standard factory tours. The factory tour footage is pretty interesting, there are some fun scenes of 50s food packages, and, of course, I enjoyed the ice cream plant footage a lot. But boy, does this film go on and on. They even give a detailed explanation of company finances, which probably interested the firm’s stockholders but nobody else. And the film’s creaky organ soundtrack and stilted acting lend an amateurish air to the proceedings that makes you yearn for Jam Handy after awhile. Still, this is a prime example of the company profile film, giving it historical interest, as well as the occasional campy moment.

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

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