By 1949 the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section was in full swing, and its filmmakers were challenged to turn people’s despair into optimism. The films in this second program embody the can-do spirit of the Marshall Planners before anti-Communist anxieties set in. From the American point of view, productivity was the key to prosperity, but it had to be tempered with a respect for traditional European craftsmanship. These themes are amusingly tackled in The Extraordinary Adventures of a Quart of Milk (16mm, 14minutes), The Home We Love (16mm, 15 minutes), and Rice and Bulls (16mm, 15 minutes), all set in France. Thrilling struggles to reclaim land and find water for irrigation are recounted in Island of Faith (16mm, 20 minutes) and Town without Water (16mm, 13minutes). Even hard-boiled students of propaganda technique may find themselves shedding a tear. When it seemed that the older generation would never change, the Marshall Planners aimed at the young. Hansl and the 200,000 Chicks (15 minutes) is one of the most charming examples. The Marshall Plan operated in 17 countries, plus the city-state of Trieste. ERP in Action No. 5 (16mm, 14minutes) takes you on a tour of aid projects in Portugal, Great Britain, Belgium, and Greece—all set to the jaunty tunes typical of 1950s newsreels.
Post-screening discussion: Dr. Elaine Tyler May, professor of American studies; and Dr. Patricia Lorcin, associate professor of history