There is an event happening today that I have been doing my best to avoid. I refuse to watch it or pay attention to it because I do not want the idiot involved to scream about how “huuuuuge” he and his event are. So I watched the 1933 black and white film, Corruption, instead. This little film, that runs about an hour and four minutes and stars Preston Foster, is about political corruption. But, wow!, is this film a universe away from politics today. There are no foreign governments hacking and maybe stealing elections. There are no politicians screaming “fake news” to distract from their own lies and fake-ness. There are no political parties doing anything at all to get and keep power and re-order a democracy to fit their own undemocratic nightmare. Well, actually this film is about a political party willing to use all kinds of dirty tricks to get power and then, literally, poison the people.
In Corruption, honest lawyer Tim Butler (Preston Foster) accepts the help of his rich soon to be father-in-law, Gorman (played by Tully Marshall), to win a mayoral election. Tim is really honest and believes Gorman is too. But Gorman is in tight with the local mob boss, Regan (played by Warner Richmond). When Mayor Tim Butler follows through on his campaign promises to “drain the swamp” and goes after political bad guys, Regan decides to get rid of Tim. Meanwhile, Tim and a doctor friend discover that tainted food, supplied by a mob crony, is being given to poor people and is killing them. Tim confronts Regan and they get into a fist fight (I am bad, I admit it, but I would love to see someone punch a certain orange, bullying, egomaniac in the face). Regan sets the stage for Tim to be caught with his pants down – actually with the lady’s underwear showing since this is a Pre-Code film and sexy was in at the time. After another fight between Tim and Regan, Regan is mysteriously killed and Tim ends up in prison. Tim’s future now depends on the investigative skills of his plucky and loyal secretary Ellen (Evelyn Knapp) and his mostly drunken reporter friend Charlie (Charles Delaney).
Corruption premiered on June 19, 1933, a year after the 1932 national elections that saw President Herbert Hoover defeated in a landslide by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Great Depression was in full swing and had been steadily worsening under Hoover and the voting public was angry about the economy and the ineffectual politicians. Almost the exact opposite of the US today when we are losing an intelligent and steady president, President Obama, who has been helping the economy to slowly recover after the monumental ineptness and blundering of the previous administration and are instead replacing him with the most unqualified, hateful, lying, most embarrassingly ridiculous, racist, cheating, misogynistic, groping, …..calm down, take a breath…..most stupidly orange president elect in history. Instead of the US of 1933 when the people voted in a president to help repair the economy, we (well, definitely NOT me) have voted in a president already putting his billionaire cronies in place and planning to royally fu….uhm, royally deprive as many people of as many rights and programs as possible. All to get power, keep power, and never let anyone else gain power ever again. The birth of the Republican Empire of the Rich.
But back to the movie. The politics and scheming of Corruption are like Kindergarten 101. The Republican party of today would mow over the scheming politicians and mobsters in this film in about ten seconds. And who could possibly be as naive as Tim? Well maybe the supporters of his Orangeness in Chief. But when you are under-educated, you are under-educated. Opening a book, turning on CNN,or just watching this film would teach you that you can not believe every political promise made. Wealthy and crooked Gorman and honest Tim have this relevant discussion:
Gorman: “As long as he (voters) has a place to sleep and something to eat…”
Tim interrupts: “Well, I’ll admit it looks that way sometimes.”
Gorman: “It’s always that way. As long as the party keeps its nose clean and doesn’t get too rough, the average citizen doesn’t care what happens to the government.”
Tim: “I have a feeling they’re about ready to wake up.”
Gorman: “Well, you’ll soon get rid of feeling sorry for a bunch of sheep.”
There are a couple of fist fights and some non-gory shootings but nothing to really stress tender-hearted movie fans. There is even some light comedy in the form of a drunken reporter and his equally snickered cameraman. Corruption does not have anything as mind-boggling as foreign hackers but it does have a foreign scientist and his secret plan for cleaning up government. Corruption is a black and white film and despite some damage, streaking and spots, the images are actually pretty sharp and clear. Audio is excellent. The film is short, only a little over an hour, so when you need a break from resisting the new, non-legitimate administration and the hateful Republican reign of terror, you can eat a sandwich, watch Corruption, and then get back into the resisting swing of things. And, of course, the best thing is that Corruption is in the Public Domain and available for everyone to watch or download absolutely FREE. So watch it and download it while you can do it without a fight because you can bet our Public Domain is in the gun sights of those, like the Republican party, who worship money and think everything really belongs to them.
You can find Corruption at the Internet Archive. If you want to fight for and defend your rights, here are two excellent places to start: ACLU and EFF. You can help protect the Public Domain by donating to the Internet Archive and visiting their site with its wealth of treasures that belong to all of us.