"The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair" is a film that technically speaking has many problems...yet I still heartily recommend it. It's because it gives a real nice look into the World's Fair of 1939 as well as the state of the nation and American values. Sure, it's often heavy-handed and even a tad silly, but on balance it's still a nice little history lesson.
This film was created for the Westinghouse Corporation and you'll hear tons about how electricity and Westinghouse are bringing us a better future. In some ways, this look at life in the future is very reminiscent of the 1964 World's Fair exhibition "The Carousel of Progress" (now housed at DisneyWorld) but instead of using audioanimatronic folks to lecture us about inventions and patriotism, you have the Middleton family visit the fair and the nice young man from Westinghouse tells and shows them all the marvels. As a contrast (and an obvious one at that), you also have Nick--the daughter's boyfriend. Nick is obviously an angry communist and again and again he's on hand to demonstrate the stupidity of communism and the superiority of capitalism.
So why would I recommend the film? Well, how many other films show you are the World's Fair of 1939?! While it emphasizes the Westinghouse pavilion, there is a lot to see there--such as the futuristic robot and labor-saving devices. All this is like a time capsule...though I also would have loved seeing the rest of the fair. But, considering it was made for Westinghouse, it makes sense the film features them. A bit campy but fun and an interesting look back.
By the way, if you want to see the film, it's available for free download from archive.org--although, oddly, the movie isn't linked to its IMDb page like many of the other public domain films from archive.org.
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