British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Cartoons Make a Mint

Synopsis
Five of John Sutherland’s classic Technicolor economic/industrial information films in one compilation. The films are from the series FUN AND FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN BUSINESS, which were 9 animations made "to create a deeper understanding of what has made America the finest place in the world to live". The series was produced for Harding College of Searcy, Arkansas (a pro-free enterprise, staunchly anti-Communist institution) under a number of grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded by the former chairman of General Motors. The aim of the series was to portray "simple economic truths about the American system of production and distribution in an interesting and entertaining manner." The films were intended for showing in theaters, schools, at community group meetings and in workplaces, often at lunchtime screenings in factories. Although the films purported to be relaxed, humorous explanations of how America’s economy works, they sought both to discredit anti-capitalist ideas and explain why the system worked better than any conceivable alternative.
Series
Fun and Facts About American Business, Series
Language
English
Country
United States
Year of release
2003
Year of production
1948-1954
Availability
Online
Notes
All the titles are available for free download from the Internet Moving Images Archive (http://webdev.archive.org/)
Subjects
Economics; History; Politics & government
Keywords
animation films; archive films; capitalism; Cold War; consumer products; propaganda; United States of America; Economics; productivity

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 0, VCD
Price
$9.99
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
56 minutes
Year
2003

Type
VHS
Format
NTSC
Price
$9.99
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
56 minutes
Year
2003

Sections

Title
Meet Joe King
Synopsis
This installment of the FUN AND FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN BUSINESS series tries to explain to the nation’s workforce why the capitalist American system is the best in the world. The film introduces "the king of the workers of the world", known as Joe, the average American worker. He earns the highest wages and works the shortest hours of any other labourer, and he doesn’t like the capitalist narrator telling him he’s no smarter or stronger than workers in other countries. Joe’s sense of privilege needs cultivation, and it’s provided by the time machine the narrator has handy to show Joe what work was like for his ancestors. The monetary capital contributions by banks, insurance companies and stocks are well lauded for their bringing about the productivity and prosperity of U. S. workers, a point illustrated by the comparison between of the labour costs of a Chinese coolie and an American railroad worker. "New inventions create thousands of jobs for every one they displace", just like competition and the research and development it fosters does. Statistics on the material possessions American workers had at this time in comparison with the other 93% of the world’s workers show they had 72% of the cars, 92% of the bathtubs, and "practically all the refrigerators in existence". The point of this film, in brief: American labour, management and capital are "the greatest production team in the history of mankind".
Duration
9 mins

Title
It’s everybody’s business
Synopsis
Produced in 1954 and sponsored by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and DuPont, this animated film depicts the American way of life. It shows America as resting upon a foundation built of irregularly shaped stone blocks, each bearing the inscription of an indivual American right. It declares that the business of America is business, and that it’s founded on the principles that promote business. This point is illustrated by John the colonial hatter who is free to be a capitalist, free to go into business for himself , invest his own and other people’s money, and advertise. Modern economy is shown to be the inheritor of this legacy as the dollars of insurance companies, stocks, bonds & banks (with the savings accounts of individual bank customers) take a ride on the Savings Special train to investment. Corporate forces of finance, research, engineering, production, design, sales & advertising rally to compete in the marketplace war of high quality and low priced goods. Standards of living for 1890s & 1940s workers are compared to show how well off modern labour is. The crashing waves of wars and government controls nonetheless assail the foundations of fortress America, and people are warned to be on the lookout for the terrible money-sucking bane of American business, the Taxes Unlimited Train.
Duration
20 mins
Technical information
Colour

Title
Going places
Synopsis
Another Cold War cartoon in the series FUN AND FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN BUSINESS, sponsored by Harding College, Extension Service (Alfred P. Sloan / General Motors). The film, produced in 1948, defends the profit motive against anti-capitalist critics. The entrepeneur, driven by the profit motive, is shown to be the agent through which communities grow and are maintained by virtue of the taxes he pays. He got that way simply by wanting to save himself some labour and earn a comfortable retirement, but when he seeks to gain a lady’s affection and maintain her and their growing family, that all changes as the profit motive takes over as the driving force of his achievement. Labour, banks, insurance companies, stocks, etc. are again cited as the fuel which feeds the capital expansion necessary for profits to be raised, and help bring about the amenities that employees who work for successful companies can expect as a result of such investments. A classic scene shows the entrepeneur taking counsel from the angel and devil at each of his shoulders.
Duration
8 mins

Title
Make mine freedom
Synopsis
A cartoon, made in 1948 and sponsored by Harding Collge, uses humour to promote the dangers of Communism and the benefits of capitalism. The film links patriotism with free enterprise and freedom with prosperity. "Working together to produce an ever-greater abundance of material and spiritual values for all. That is the secret of American prosperity."

Specific ideologies, whether Communism, socialism, fascism or capitalism, aren’t mentioned. Instead, "Isms" and "imported doubletalk" are mentioned dismissively. A salesman tries to sell the snake oil of "Ism" to characters emblematic of the four commercial interests of the USA - management, labour, politicians and farmers. John Q. Public, objects when this "Ism" is about to be taken at face value, both in the swallowing and the signing over of the most precious of American possessions to obtain it- Freedom. The "Totalitarian" part of "Ism" comes into view as J.Q.B. illustrates what would happen if everyone signed over their freedom for all the good things "Ism" promises - loss of liberty, of course, but also the prosperity that accompanies it. As the film states, "working to create an ever-increasing abundance of material and spiritual values for all" is the secret of American prosperity, and is something no foreign political or economic system could deliver.
Duration
10 mins

Title
Leap frog
Synopsis
Another of the Cold War-era cartoon series FUN AND FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN BUSINESS. This episode originally called WHY PLAY LEAP FROG was produced in 1949 and was aimed at showing workers that increased wages based on increased productivity bring about greater purchasing power. Joe (from an earlier film in the series MEET KING JOE) works at the Dilly-Doll factory as a face painter, and is upset because nearly all his pay rises are offset by an increase in the cost of goods. But the narrator explains that labour costs are to blame (not excessive profits or executive bonuses). The solution to this problem is productivity improvement, which gives Joe a brainstorm, his boss a proposal, investors an opportunity and brings lower prices with higher wages for all.
Duration
9 mins

Distributor

Name

Internet Archive

Email
info@archive.org
Web
http://www.archive.org/details/movies External site opens in new window
Phone
+ 415-561-6767
Fax
+ 415-840-0391
Address
Internet Archive
P.O. Box 29244
Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco,
CA 94129-0244
USA
Name

MediaOutlet.com

Email
service@prosperohouse.com
Web
http://www.mediaoutlet.com/ External site opens in new window
Address
PO Box 1432
Bayonne
NJ 07002
USA
Notes
Specialises in US archival moving image and sound material, particularly vintage radio and public service films and broadcasts that have been digitally restored. Formerly known as Earthstation.com. Sale on multi-region DVD or CD.

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