Aquila Intensely lyrical, this film uses a symphonic score and no narration to depict the temptations and tribulations of an unemployed worker arrested for theft. When the authorities realize he’s simply desperate to feed his family, he’s redeemed with a job at the Aquila refinery, under reconstruction thanks to ERP aid. Writer/producer/director Jacopo Erbi. Introducing Natale Peretti. Camera Franco & Gianni Vitrotti; music composer/conductor Mario Bugamelli, performed by Orchestra of Radio Trieste. ECA Italy, 21min, circa 1950.
Between West and East* (Zwischen West und Ost) A historically important overview of events in Berlin from the end of WW II to the election in the Western Zone in December 1948. It covers the partition of Berlin into four sectors after the war; the election of Mayor Hans Reuter in 1946 (which was vetoed by the Soviets); free speech initiatives in radio, film, newspapers and the theater; currency reform; launch of the Berlin Blockade by General Sokolovsky; the airlift; and the creation of West Berlin and East Berlin. The film proclaims that the people of Berlin are resisting the influence of the Soviet Union and are turning to democracy and freedom. Producer Stuart Schulberg for OMGUS film unit, Berlin, 22 min, 1949.
Bridge, The* (Die Brücke) After World War II, Germany and Berlin were divided into four sectors, governed by the U.S., British, French, and Soviets. Berlin was located in the heart of the Soviet sector. In 1948 the Soviets decided to try to isolate the western sector of Berlin, by shutting down the roads and rail lines into the city. The result was a massive effort by the U.S. and its European allies to thwart the siege by flying food and fuel into the city. As a way of boosting morale, everything produced in the city was stamped “Made in Blockaded Berlin.” The film is a docudrama about a German technician at Tempelhof airport who befriends one of the foreign pilots. It stars Joseph Müller and Louis F. Droll. Produced by Zeit im Film for the OMGUS film unit in Berlin, 16 min, 1949.
Do Not Disbturb! Meeting in Progress (Nicht stören! - Funktionärsversammlung) This fiction film uses satire to convey its (backhanded) message. German comic Walter Gross stars as an East German political functionary lecturing to a group of party members. He shows a film about the progress being made in the German Democratic Republic, but its put-down of all things Western vividly and hilariously demonstrates just the opposite. Director Hans Herbert, script Günther Neuman, camera Bert Drus, 16 min, c. 1950.
ERP In Action, No 5 Fifth of twelve monthly newsreels about the European Recovery Program. Sequences include French workers finishing a caravan exhibit for the Brussels Fair; the British royal family visiting an ECA exhibit at the British Industries Fair; blessing of the Portuguese cod fleet off Newfoundland; a Danish herring fleet being equipped with ERP depth recorders; Greek sponge fishers getting new diving equipment; launching of the Swedish oil tanker Bergemaster; European technicians studying the U.S. paper-and-pulp industry; and the Marshall Plan poster contest. ECA Paris in cooperation with Fox-Movietone News, 11min, 1950.
Extraordinary Adventures of a Quart of Milk, The* Who could imagine a can of dehydrated milk that talks? What might have been a really dull film about advances in refrigeration and homogenization, turns into a hilarious comedy when the milk rudely interrupts the stodgy narrator and insists on telling its own story. Director Alain Pol, script Pierre Grimblat, camera Roland Paillas, camera asst Julien Cornillaud, editor Victor Grizelin, music Jacques Metehen, narrator Peter Walker. A Tele-Radio-Cine Production, 13 min, 1951.
Hansl and the 200,000 Chicks Told with great charm by the Austrian director Georg Tressler, this is the story of Hansl who receives a consignment of Marshall Plan chicks, along with instructions on how to build the ideal chicken house. He is so successful with his chicks that he outdoes his parents in egg production, and is rewarded with another 30 chicks and lessons in building a larger habitat. By this time, he has earned enough money from the sale of the eggs not only to help support his family, but also to buy a long-desired bicycle for himself. It is hard to imagine a better advertisement for Marshall Plan productivity. Producer/director/editor Georg Tressler, Vienna, for MSA Austria, 15 min, 1952.
Home We Love,The* Mazamet, a famous wool-processing town in south-central France, is back in business, thanks to the raw wool and hide shipments it receives under the European Recovery Program. A classic example of Marshall Plan filmmaking, you get to meet all the people who make up the village and see how each contributes to the whole. The story is told by one of the oldest residents, with nostalgia for the old days and a begrudging admiration for the new day dawning. This early Marshall Plan success story was widely distributed in theaters in France and seven other nations. Tele-Radio-Ciné Productions, Paris, ECA France,15 min, 1950,
Houen Zo! In May 1940, a massive Luftwaffe raid devastated much of Rotterdam and killed over 25,000 of its citizens. Twelve years later, in 1952, Rotterdam’s city fathers commemorate that tragedy and, at the same time, celebrate their city’s reconstruction with American aid. The film served as centerpiece of those ceremonies. The title, Houen Zo, is a crane operator’s term meaning “steady as you go.” Without words, but keyed to the rhythm of church carillons and street hurdy-gurdys, a series of vertical wipes replace ruined old buildings with new ones. Remarkable for its camera work, sound effects and music, Houen Zo won a prize at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival for its director Herman van der Horst. His previous film, Shoot the Nets, also made for the Marshall Plan, won the same prize the year before. Producer/director Herman van der Horst, Haarlem, for MSA Netherlands, 21 min, 1952.
Hour of Choice, The The birth of the Marshall Plan, the Schuman Plan, the Coal and Steel Community, the European Payments Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe are all covered in support of the film’s thesis that Europe’s future lies with multinational institutions. Written by the British documentarist, Stuart Legg, this is one of the few ECA/MSA films that takes an overall view of where Europe was heading after the war. Produced by Gaumont British Picture Corporation, London, for ECA UK, 21min, 1951.
Hunger The film opens with a montage -- scenes of hungry people in one city after another. We imagine we are seeing Germany, but then realize we are looking at Paris, London, Naples. The reveal is shocking. The film was made to help Germans realize that they were not the only ones to suffer from the food shortages caused by the war. Its other message was to encourage German farmers to sell their agricultural products instead of hoarding them. In its early release, the film caused a furor -- audiences cried “Hermann [Goering] wouldn’t let us starve!” and was pulled from distribution. Produced by K-S Film under Stuart Schulberg’s supervision for OMGUS film unit, 10 min, 1948,
(Only first reel will be shown, as second reel of English version is lost.)
Island of Faith* With courage, perseverance and faith, the people of Walcheren Island (Netherlands) reclaim their island from the sea by repairing the dikes that were destroyed in the war. One of the most extraordinary and compellingly filmed demonstrations of people building a new life. An early example of Marshall Plan achievement, this film was distributed theatrically in nine ERP nations in eight language versions. Producer/director John Ferno, Ferno Productions, Paris, for ECA Netherlands, 20 min, 1950.
It’s Up To You!* (Es Liegt an dir!) The film sketches pre-War Germany and the forces that led to Nazi control and war. Now in the aftermath, the German people are faced with choices. They can revert to militarism or embrace peace. They can follow orders or exercise their rights as free citizens. This is a clever piece of propaganda because it invites each viewer to choose his or her own path Director/editor Wolfgang Kiepenheuer, script Friedrich Luft, camera Wilfried Basse, August Lutz, music Wolfgang Zeller, producer Stuart Schulberg for OMGUS film unit, Berlin, 20 min, 1948.
Let’s Be Childish! At an alpine resort, children of various nationalities, on vacation with their parents, engage in contests in the snow. At first they do not understand each other, and national rivalries come to the fore. But when a little English girl is accidentally hurt, they chip in to buy her chocolates from the local bakery. The film is beguiling, especially in the way it is filmed. You see only the feet of the adults until the funny final frame. “May it be a lesson to the adult world,” the narrator concludes. Writer/director George Freedland, produced in association with Fred Orain, George Freedland Productions, Paris, for ECA France, 20 min, 1950.
Life and Death of a Cave City The 3,000-year-old cave city of Metera, Italy, is built inside a mountain of soft stone called “tufa.” With Marshall Plan aid, the Italian government constructed new homes to get people out of the caves. This rare color film contains striking images of their underground hives, so “homey” that many resisted the move above ground into the heat of the day. Director Romolo Marcellini, story and narration John Secondari, Director of Photography Cyril Knowles, camera operator Angelo Jannarelli, editor Pino Giomini, production manager Enzo Muscianisi, music composer and conductor Franco Mannino, performed by Symphonic Orchestra of St. Cecilia. Produced by Documento Film, ECA Italy. Color, 11min, 1949.
Me and Mr. Marshall Before the film begins, a message comes up on the screen: “This is a translated version of a film produced under the auspices of Information Control Division, Office of Military Government for Germany (US), as part of the reorientation program for the German people. It is now being shown, both commercially and non-commercially, throughout the US Zone of Germany.” The impact of Marshall aid is told personally by a young German coal miner. He describes (and the viewer sees) conditions in Europe after the war and some of the ways the Marshall Plan helped Europe get back into production and into the import-export business. Footage includes Secretary of State George Marshall describing the way the European Recovery Program is supposed to work (a re-enactment - not the June 5, 1947, Harvard speech). Also includes an animated graphic showing distribution of Marshall Plan monies. Producer Stuart Schulberg for OMGUS film unit, 13 min, 1948.
Promise of Barty O’Brien, The* Another one of the few fiction features made for the Marshall Plan, this film makes use of the wonderful Abbey Theatre actors to play out a story of generational conflict between a tradition-bound father, veteran of the 1916 “troubles”, and his son Barty. Instead of taking over the family farm, Barty becomes fascinated by the new power plant, and takes electrical courses at night school. When he is selected to study in the U.S., it tears the family apart. Eventually, he returns as a full-fledged electrical engineer to work for the local Electricity Board. But all is not forgiven until the father finally sees the electric lamps glow in his own home. According to Al Hemsing, the film was well received by Irish audiences who found that it hit home. Producer/director George Freedland, with the Abbey Theatre Players, Dublin, script Sean O’Faolain and George Freedland, Freedland Productions, Paris, for MSA Republic of Ireland, 39 min, 1952.
Rice and Bulls* The Camargue cowboys are a tough breed, about as stubborn as the bulls they raise. Ruggles (nominated for an Academy Award for Cimarron) and Massee constructed a French “western”, cleverly directing their real live cowboys as though they were actors. This story of old traditions giving way to new ideas incorporates the naturally gruff wit of its main characters. Produceer/Director Wesley Ruggles, script W. Massee, camera A. Milton, asst camera Roland Paillas, editor Victor Grizelin, music Paul Baron, narrator M. Griffe. A Tele-Radio-Cine Production, 15 min, 1950.
Shoemaker and the Hatter, The* A prize-winning cartoon made by the same husband and wife team that later turned Orwell’s Animal Farm into a classic of animated storytelling. Two neighbors, a shoemaker and a hatter, argue about how best to recover their livelihoods after the war. The hatter believes in producing few hats at a high profit per hat, protected by tariff. The shoemaker sees the need for lots of shoes. He wants to lower their cost through mass production and make his profit through export and free trade. After many adventures, the shoemaker eventually proves that free trade can bring prosperity to them both. Since the free trade vs. protectionism argument is still in today’s headlines, the film is as fresh as ever. One of the most popular Marshall Plan films, it was shown in eleven language versions in movie houses throughout Western Europe. Produced by John Halas and Joy Batchelor Ltd, London, for ECA, supervised by Philip Stapp. 16 min, 1950.
Smiths and the Robinsons, The A visit with two London couples, the Smiths and the Robinsons (played by 4 marvelous British actors), is set against the backdrop of the Korean War, the build-up of NATO, and Moscow’s threats. With great humor, the film charts their hunger for luxury amidst their struggle with shortages. On the radio, Conservative Party leader Anthony Eden counsels sacrifice, but all they can think about is how long they’ll wait for a car and a television. This is one of the Marshall Plan’s few fiction films. Writer/producer Philip Mackie, director Peter Hopkinson, camera John Baxter Peters, editor Maurice Harley, for MSA Film Section, Paris, 19 min, 1952.
Story of Koula, The* A delightful story, designed to promote the Greek agricultural aid program, that involves a little boy and a very big mule one of many shipped to Greece from America under the Marshall Plan. The boy befriends and learns to work with the animal, so much more ornery than the local donkeys. One of a number of “one-country” films that found favor with audiences elsewhere, it was eventually voiced in nine languages and shown throughout Western Europe. Produced by Vittorio Gallo Films, Rome, for ECA, 21 min, 1951.
Struggle for Men’s Minds An overview of the struggle in Italy between Communists and non-Communists, the film depicts the 1948 assassination attempt (re-enacted) on Palmiro Togliatti (the Italian Communist chief), as well as strikes and demonstrations that nearly paralyzed Rome. The new Free Confederation of Italian Trade Unions is backed by America’s AFL and CIO, and Italy joins NATO. The Papacy joins the battle against Communism. Marshall Plan movies, puppet shows, books, and posters promote the positive effects on Italy of Marshall aid. Produced by Europa Telefilm for MSA, 27 min, 1952.
Town Without Water* A small town in Italy gets water for the first time in memory. Beginning with views of the parched earth of the region, this story follows the building of a pipeline built by the government in Rome, with help from Marshall Plan counterpart funds. Amazingly photographed, one can practically feel the drought. The final shot of a little boy dousing his face with water leaves an indelible image of relief and joy. Phoenix Films, Rome, for ECA Italy, 13 min, 1949.
Whitsun Holiday Whitsun, the Pentecost weekend, puts millions of Europeans on the road for a brief vacation in the spring air. The film contrasts the way West Europeans are free to choose how to spend their time with the lock-step celebration of the World Youth Congress in East Berlin. Characterized by its outright anti-Communist tone, it is a witty piece of propaganda. According to Al Hemsing, Peter Baylis (who wrote and produced the One-Two-Three series) made this film “almost as a personal statement.” Apparently, it received no commercial distribution, but a number of non-Communist trade unions showed it in union halls. Writer/producer Peter Baylis, for the MSA Film Unit, Paris, 14 min, 1953.
Without Fear. This British-made animated film addresses Europe’s condition five years after the war, and speculates about the continent’s future. Hemsing stated that anyone seeking insights into the Europeans’ hopes, fears and emotions during the period of the Cold War would find this flawed, but powerful, film revealing. Even as the world grows smaller, Europe remains split. West Europeans can either heed the siren song from the East unity but without liberty or work for a more prosperous, more just society. The preachy narration is matched by the strong imagesa tide of Technicolor red engulfing all of Europe. Students of propaganda technique will be well rewarded. Director Peter Sachs, script Allan Mackinnon, production supervision Philip Stapp, W. M. Larkins Studio, with Producers Guild, London, for ECA. Color, 15 min, 1951.
Editor’s Note: Film titles marked with an * were preserved by the Academy Fim Archive. Descriptions by Sandra Schulberg, Al Hemsing, Linda Christenson. All films in B&W unless otherwise noted. For complete listing of MP films, visit www.marshallfilms.org.