Film: 9801

Politics | 1950 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

Dramatised presentation by the Christophers encouraging Americans to fully participate in the political process 1950's

Beginning with a scene of the New York skyline. An aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge. New York street scene. A mother pushing pram and looking down at her son who has a bicycle in a suburban environment, house with white picket fence . A lake or river in front of trees at the bottom of the hill. Cars on a highway. Cars in a city street. The voice-over praises America but hints at an enemy within. At its best, about citizenship.

'George' (Danny Thomas) embodies what happens when people do nothing but complain. Smoking a cigar, in a grey suit with black hat and tie, and a large flower in his lapel, George looks and acts like a gangster. He is in an office. He has a bandaged hand. He explains that when people say they are too busy, he runs the place for them. He implies that apathy among voters and indifference to the political process opens the way for dictators like Hitler and Mussolini. However, he does not like the Christopher Movement because they are trying to combat the apathy and indifference of the electorate.

Suddenly the camera pulls back as Thomas finishes and we see a priest in the room, James Keller of the Christophers. He is impressed by Thomas' act. Keller explains to Thomas that he is going to make a film about his book, 'Government Is Your Business'. He says that the Christophers are trying to get people out to vote. Thomas asks if they are being told how to vote. Keller explains that voters have an obligation before God and Man to take part in the political process. He emphasises the Christopher's non-partisan stance but underline that people's civic responsibilities should be fulfilled. Keller recalls an anecdote about how enthusiastic immigrants to the United States of America are about the USA.

Keller and Thomas' conversation brings out the principles of Christopher Movement - that the business of government is the business of the people. The conversation is also about the American dream and the principles upon which the USA was founded. They have a look at a copy of the Declaration of Independence, which Keller says is only taught in 9 of the 48 states. On the wall is a copy of the Bill of Rights. Thomas reads extracts from the Declaration which Keller comments upon, to do with God. Keller shows Thomas a copy of the first draft of the Declaration, in which there was one reference to God, though two others were put in later. Thus, there is a strong religious feel to the film. Thomas' wife enters as he says 'We owe our allegiance to God and Country'. Thomas and his wife leave.

Robert Young enters and sits down. Keller explains that he wants to make a film to get the points he made in his book, 'Government Is Your Business', across to a wider audience. He also outlines where you can find out more about these ideas. Young starts to outline his thoughts about the proposed film, but asks to be told what Keller said in a talk Young missed. Keller made cards to summarise his points, which were:

1. Inquire about the management of public affairs from authoritative sources.
2. Pray for those in public office.
3. Encourage those with character and competence to dedicate themselves to careers in public service.
4. Study the candidate.
5. Attend precinct conventions.
6. Participate in political meetings.
7. Check on the voting record of your present representatives.
8. Stimulate others to vote. [In 1940, 83 million Americans could vote. In 1950, there were 97 million. Less that half that number votes.]
9. Offer your services for essential pre-election work (e.g. help people to the polls).
10. Consider legitimate political activity as a moral obligation to God and country.
11. Express your preference under any circumstances. [Vote for the better candidate but make sure you vote.]
12. Vote for those, regardless of party, who stand for the presentation of our divine heritage of free constitutional government.

These appear to be the Christophers' twelve steps to better government.

Young now explains his idea for the film: A student decides to become a politician, after reading Keller's book. His friends talk about this and they think he is mad. He goes to his parents house for dinner with his girlfriend, to whom he is engaged and he is going to tell his parents about the engagement. Then he remembers he must tell them about his career decision too. He tells them he has an important announcement, and everyone thinks he means the engagement. Instead, he tells them he wants to be a politician. Everybody is very upset and the engagement is off.

Keller thinks it is a great idea. Young now confesses that his ideas were a collaborative effort, and he and his friends support the Christophers. There is a phone call for Young - who grips that the three things you owe allegiance to are God, country and home. Young has to leave. Keller thanks Young for helping emphasise the twelve steps to better government. Keller emphasises that government is everyone's responsibility.

Dennis Day ends the film, singing 'God Bless America'. Towards the end of the song, the Stars and Stripes is superimposed over his face.


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