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Hell-Bent for Election (1944)

A villainous Thomas E. Dewey supporting sprite tries to influence a sleepy Union rail switchman to derail Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign train.


(as Charles M. Jones)


, (lyrics)


In this cartoon, a political piece paid for by the United Auto Workers, presidential candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt is portrayed as streamlined express train, while Thomas Dewey is shown as an old, tired steamer. The voters are encouraged not to "fall asleep at the switch" when it came time to support FDR. Written by Mike Konczewski

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Animation | Short





Release Date:

1 January 1944 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Featured in Animated Century (2003) See more »


We're Going to Win the War
Music by Earl Robinson
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
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User Reviews

A lesson in the effective use of animation to achieve an end.
3 December 2002 | by (Tucson AZ) – See all my reviews

This cartoon is a very effective piece of propaganda and demonstrates the strength and effectiveness of animation as tools for generating propaganda. The initial project of UPA studios, it was undertaken because the outcome of the Presidential election was in doubt in 1944 and a great many people saw the continued presence of FDR in the White House as vital to the prosecution of WWII.

As has been said before, "Anything can happen in a cartoon" and that freedom allows for images much more striking and powerful than words alone can be to be used to make the point forcefully that Roosevelt was far and away preferable to Thomas Dewey. What makes this propaganda is the fact that, while undoubtably FDR was best suited to continue the fight, if for no other reasons than continuity, Dewey wouldn't have been nearly as bad as this indicates he would have been. The most telling attack, the "Jim Crow laws" car on the Dewey train conveniently overlooks the fact that, in the 1940s, the South was largely in the hands of the Democrats and "Jim Crow" laws received broad support from both parties. Propaganda is exaggerated for effect, for the purpose of motivating people, often out of fear, to a particular course of action. This is a most effective piece of propaganda.

You can see both the fine hand of Chuck Jones and John Hubley all over this cartoon. It also shows what would later become known as the UPA style in its infancy. Though obviously quite dated (by its nature, it would have to be), this holds up very well and is well worth seeing, particularly for those with an interest in politics and/or animation. Well worth getting. Most highly recommended.

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