This Crime Does Not Pay short shows how cooperation among all the nations of the Americas helps the war effort. In this case, a US government agent travels to Chile and Colombia. He works ...
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This Crime Does Not Pay short shows how cooperation among all the nations of the Americas helps the war effort. In this case, a US government agent travels to Chile and Colombia. He works with local authorities to try to thwart an Axis plan to ship stolen ammunition. Written by
David Glagovsky <email@example.com>
One seldom talked about part of the American war effort that most people today probably don't know about is our so-called 'Good Neighbor Policy'. What this meant is that the US wanted to strengthen ties with Central and South America because there was concerned that some of these nations MIGHT join the Axis powers or covertly assist them. A part of this program included encouraging American movie makers to visit these countries if possible or at least make films about these countries. This explains why Twentieth Century-Fox made quite a few musicals set in South America (such as "Down Argentina Way") as well as which featured Carmen Miranda. It also explains why Disney made some rather boring features like "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros"--and part of this process included Walt himself taking his executives and other employees on a very lengthy tour of South America. In light of all this, "For the Common Defense!" makes a lot of sense--though, compared to the rest of MGM's Crime Does Not Pay series, it was definitely sub-par.
Most of this film is set in Chile and a bit is set in Columbia. However, being a short film, MGM didn't send the crew to the continent nor did they hire South Americans. No, it's a sound stage-bound film with gringos filling in for Chilean officials. Additionally, the film is interesting because it's one of Van Johnson's first films--and he has BROWN hair, not his usual red.
The film is about, what else, evil Axis agents in South America who are trying to stir up trouble and sabotage. The German and Japanese agents were, naturally, evil BUT destined to fail. After all, this was clearly intended as a propaganda film to bolster the American resolve--and it really, really was needed in early 1942 when this one debuted.
The movie is fairly enjoyable but no more. It is a bit preachy and I personally preferred the gangster baddies you used to find in the shorts before the war began. Still, it's not bad viewing.
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