This hilarious propaganda film was a semi-regular feature at B-Fest for awhile. I saw it twice within the first three years I attended B-Fest, but not since. The official word is that the print of WHAT IS COMMUNISM? has disappeared, but considering how livid it made the more politically conservative B-Festers whenever it was shown and appropriately mocked, my theory is that the print fell off the back of a truck someplace.
WHAT IS COMMUNISM? was made in the early-to-mid-1950s. The man you see in the still above is its host, Herbert A. Philbrick, who was famous then for his book I LED THREE LIVES. Philbrick was a salesman who was recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the Communist Party and report back to J. Edgar Hoover. After the FBI pulled him out in the late '40s so he could testify in a Smith Act trial (the verdicts of many of which were later deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court), Philbrick wrote a book about his experiences hunting Commies. The book was adapted as a syndicated television series with popular B-actor Richard Carlson (IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE) playing Philbrick.
In WHAT IS COMMUNISM?, Philbrick answers with the "three...six...nine words" you see above, and in just over ten minutes, explains his reasoning. What is really scary/funny about the film is that you could substitute the word "Republican" for "Communist," and the movie would be more accurate. For instance,
- Lying. Well, we have recently lost over 3000 American lives in Iraq as a direct result of Republican lies.
- Dirty. Communists are "dirty" because they slander prominent Americans. Sorta like how the Republican Party "swift boated" John Kerry in the last election.
- Shrewd. Because the Commie Party gives their causes carefully selected names that people won't understand mean the complete opposite of what the group actually is. Like the Patriot Act.
- Godless. Republicans claim to believe in God. They just don't act like they do.
- Murderous. Such as sending soldiers to fight in Iraq, but not providing them with reliable weapons and body armor.
- Determined. If you don't mean "determined to pass legislation designed to make life easier for the American people," that is.
- International Criminal Conspiracy. Halliburton? FEMA? Illegal wiretaps?
See WHAT IS COMMUNISM? for yourself on DVD. It's part of TARGET YOU: COLD WAR EDUCATIONAL FILMS FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOMELAND SECURITY, along with eight other Cold War pieces. Move it to the top of your Netflix queue, and while you're at it, click on THE EDUCATIONAL ARCHIVES, VOL. 5: PATRIOTISM. That one has an amazing 1945 short comparing democracy to a despotic government that looks a helluva lot like the current Bush administration (such as all industry being owned by a handful of companies and a press that simply parrots the official government stance), as well as the classic RED NIGHTMARE, a kneeslapper narrated by uptight DRAGNET creator Jack Webb, a film even funnier than WHAT IS COMMUNISM?