Face to Face with Communism, 1951

(music) (dramatic interlude) (WHISTLING) (voice-over)
I'm Jim Conway on a 3-day pass. Home's a little too far to go so
I'm just looking for a change of scene and a good sack at night. And well, maybe a little fun. I like this town. Quiet enough to relax,
friendly enough to get acquainted. (Newsboy)
Paper, soldier? No Aww, c'mon you've gotta read this,
c'mon, you gotta. Listen kid, I'm on pass. When I'm on pass,
I don't wanna read nothin' about nothin'. Now run along, and sell your papers. Hey kid, here. Gee, thanks! Read all about it!
Get your latest edition here! (dramatic music) I guess it's about 7 o'clock
the next morning. I'm half asleep at this room
at the Decatur Hotel on the square. I don't know how long
it's been going on but – (MARCHING BAND MUSIC) Aww, nuts. (INCOHERENT GRUMBLING) Whenever anybody wants to get any sleep… How do you expect a guy to sleep
with all that racket going on out there? You know if you'd wised me up
to this…this shindig, I'd have gone someplace else. I thought you knew know about it, Sgt.
it was in the papers. Yeah, well, if I was running a hotel,
I'd have enough – You got the mail ready? Here it is. Is this everything? Everything. Ok, you'll get it back when it's censored. Hey, did that mail belong to the folks
who are staying here? That's right. But, since…since when have they started
censoring mail in this country? I told you it was in the papers. Now, just exactly what kind
of a bird is this? Don't let it get you down, Sergeant. It got me up and anyone who gets me up
when I don't have to is a – (EXASPERATED PAUSE) Brother, you just lost a customer! (RING) (Operator) Number please. Operator, would you give me
long distance please. (Operator) Long distance? Long distance. I want to speak to
Miss Mazy Goldber at Calumet 54902. That's in Chicago. (Operator) Do you have a permit number? Huh? A what? (Operator) A permit number. A permit number?
What for? (Operator) All long distance calls
must be cleared by the Commissar of Communications
and a permit number obtained. Say, what kind of chicken –
what's all this hogwash you're feeding me! The phone call is to my girlfriend! (Operator) All long distance calls
must be cleared with the Commissar of Communications
and a permit number obtained. (SOUND OF PHONE HANGING UP) Permit number?
Commissar of Communications? It just doesn't make sense. There's something wrong with this town. Seriously wrong. He looks like a wrong guy too. I've gotta see what's going on out there. (Commissar) By virtue of powers
vested in us by the supreme Soviets, the Communist Party of America will
direct all organizations of the people, both local and state. The private operations of hotels, banks,
stores and services will be permitted only at the discretion
of the Council of Peoples' Commissar. Any such operations conducted
without official sanction is a crime against the State
and will be punished accordingly. There may be some among you
who will consider this an encroachment on your individual liberties. Such people will have to be re-educated…
(Commissar's speech fades) (voice-over)
This must be some kind of a gag. But that phone call, that censored mail… Hey, who is that zombie up there? He's one of the commissars. What's he trying to do? He's telling us that – we're not allowed to talk,
we're only allowed to listen. You – (Commissar) All right comrades, now I'm going to tell you
what all this means in plain American. This town is now an active unit
in the Communist International. From now on, the welfare
of the Peoples' State comes first. Most of you misguided people
have been living under a reactionary capitalist democracy
for so long that you find it difficult to know what we mean
by "welfare of the Peoples' State." The Peoples' State is you!
(speech fades) (voice-over) Not me, brother. Not me. You might be fooling some of those jokers
with this Peoples' State routine, but not me. Why doesn't somebody do something?
Why don't they call the cops? Yeah, the cops. (Man 1) Take him away. (Man 2) You won't get away with this. People won't stand for it. As soon as they realize the extent
to which you've taken away their liberties (Man 1) Never mind the farewell speech. Not you too, chief! I guess so. But why, why you? For performing my duties as
Chief of Police of this community – Get him outta here! – according to the best of my abilities
and according to the Constitution of the United States. Now what will I do? I gotta do something. I gotta get out of here. (Commissar) The council expects
to be clearly understood. That it will tolerate no interference in the execution
of its public responsibilities. Any person hindering or delaying
an officer of the Peoples' State in the performance of his duties will be considered an enemy of the people
and punished accordingly. Considered of all loyal citizens
of the People's State to cooperate with the council
at all times. To make any sacrifices
which may be ordered for the benefit of the Peoples' State
as a whole. Remember the future of the Peoples' State
is your future. You must think, act and live
for the State. The people of this community
have waited a long time for the right kind of leadership. Now that you have it, remember that the Peoples' State
is your state only if you give it your full and unswerving cooperation
in its fight for freedom. No one can get out of his duties…
(speech fades) (voice-over) Get out of here, yeah. Roads blocked,
newspaper office boarded up, banks seized. Maybe, maybe I'm dreaming all of this. No. I gotta get out of here.
But how, how? (Commissar) Time is an important factor
in the establishment of the Peoples' State. To avoid bloodshed, citizens will obey
all orders of peoples' militia. Persons found engaging in acts
of sabotage will be summarily shot. The state demands action. It's on the basis of his actions that
the man's loyalty to the community will be judged. Anytime a citizen doubts
whether he's doing the right thing… (Woman) You call this freedom,
you and your jackals? Who elected you to run this community?
By what right do you tell us
what to believe in and where to live? What makes you think you can tell us
where to travel and where to work and what to read? We're Americans and we believe
in the freedom of the individual to make up his mind for himself. It's not the State that comes first,
it's the people in it. And if you don't recognize
the right of the people, you don't belong here. Take your hands off of me! Let go of me! Let me go! Let me go! (Police) All right, come on, on your feet.
Let's go. Let's get out of here. Come on! (GAVEL POUNDING) (Official) The defendant is charged
with refusal to work in occupation specified by the Commissar of Employment. The Defendant's attitude throughout
has been inimical to the welfare of the Peoples' State. Violation of State Code Article 47,
Section 6, Paragraph 4, expecting private ownership
of commercial enterprise, Engaged in retail sales and distribution
of essential commodities without government permit. (Judge) Has the Defendant
confessed to these crimes? Yes. (Judge) The Defendant is sentenced to
an indefinite term in state labor camp 14. But I didn't confess. I didn't say a word.
Is it wrong to sell bread? I demand a – (MUFFLED VOICE) (voice-over) Well it's no dream now,
that dirty – They got me where they want me. If I only could get my hands on that – (Official)
The defendant is charged with conspiracy under Defense of the Peoples' Act
Article 16, Paragraph 4, to wit, attempting to do bodily harm
to officers of the State. (Judge) Do you confess to this crime? What crime? Look I don't recognize this court
or those bunch of hoods you call officers of the State. The defendant will confine himself
to answering questions rather than raising them. I'm entitled to defend myself. You appear to be a sensible,
realistic citizen. Perhaps you went to the aid of that woman
through a mistaken sense of chivalry. Well call it what you like.
And it wasn't a mistake either. That woman had a perfect right
to say what she did and everything she said
goes double for me. The charge against you is very serious. If it's necessary to add treason
to that charge, we'll go hard with you. Treason? Hey if there's anyone guilty of treason
it's that zombie shooting his mouth off out there in the square. (Judge) Leave him alone. Do you have anything further to say? I sure do. You don't seriously think you're going
to get Americans to go Communist, do you? Not with all those benefits
you've been handing out. You know, the trouble with you
and all your crowd is you think you can make people
act like puppets while you dangle them on that worn-out string of ideas
that should have been buried along with the guy that invented them. All of you mugs are living back
in the 19th century with the bustle skirts and mutton chop whiskers. You're just about as old fashioned
as my grandmother's corset. You seem to know a great deal about it. You ain't kidding. You just try pushing Americans around
and you'll get just about as far as the creek. Sure, sure, you'll find a few suckers
here and there, the kinda guy that lives
by letting George do it. But you aren't gonna pull anybody
who knows anything about you. And remember some of those tricks
you pulled over the last 30 years. There's more than enough of us
to take care of you. I admire your spirit But not your knowledge.
Communism needs men like you. A little reschooling
will do you a world of good. I'm going to offer you
the opportunity of swearing allegiance to the Communist International
and the Peoples' State of America. I advise you to accept it. And if I don't. You'll be punished
to the full extent of the law. You wanna know something judge? You and all your commie friends
can go plum to blazes. Under the powers invested in me
by the Peoples' State, the defendant is sentenced to death.
(dramatic music) Sentence will be carried out at the time
and place determined by the court. Remove the prisoner. (voice-over)
I wonder if it makes sense, the stuff I said in the courtroom. It's sure quiet in here. Like a tomb. Maybe I'll be in a real one
tomorrow morning. Dawn's usually the time they do it. Maybe they do the killing at night. (dramatic music) Oh! (dramatic music) Everything closed tight. Like a ghost town. Like the place had been hit by the plague. Am I the only one left alive? Where is everybody? Maybe it's a trick. (DOG BARKING) Any minute they'll mow me down. Fought for Freedom.
Huh. Wonder how many of them
were out here this morning? Joseph Cerrito, Herman Cole,
Abraham Davis, Thomas Davenport. Maybe they're dead or they've forgotten
what they've fought for. Feels like the end of the world. Humph, if it's going to be a commie world,
I don't want it anyway. Well, why don't they get it over with? Nothing happened. I thought of my papers, my money. I had to get back to my hotel. The lobby was dark,
the night clerk asleep. I was really bushed and I hit the bed. Just for a minute. Felt safe enough for a little while,
but I guess I fell fast asleep. It was a bright day when I woke up. And I thought, if they're going to get me,
let them get me in uniform. The only way out was through the lobby. Something's happened to this place. Or maybe it happened to me? Maybe I dreamed the whole thing after all. I have my key, room 25 sir,
have you got the bill? (clerk)
25? It'll be $5 sir. Here you go, $5 even. Thank you, sir. Excuse me, ma'am. Very sorry. It's perfectly all right. Something's happened all right. The town looks just the way it did
when I first saw it. Quiet, clean, friendly. (CAR HONKS) (Newsboy)
Extra, extra, read all about it! Paper, soldier? Nuh-uh. Yeah, I will. Thanks. (dramatic music)
(HAMMERING) Morning, Sergeant,
how are you feeling today? Hey aren't you the man that… That's right,
I'm the judge that sentenced you to death. I see you're still alive. Yeah. I'm alive. It went fine, better than we expected. It's in the papers all over the country
by now. Next week's issue of Life magazine too. Cigarette Sergeant? No thanks. You know, when we first talked it over,
a lot of the fellows shouted it down, said it wasn't necessary, but a bunch of us thought it was. Seemed to be no better way
to show a community how it would be if the Communists took over
than to act it out. Don't you think so? Yes. Fella said I did a swell job
with that legal language. My lawyer wrote it out for me. You did a swell job too, young fella. You looked like you swallowed it all,
hook, line, and sinker. Did I? You certainly did. I guess they keep you boys
pretty well informed. I could tell by the way you tore into me.
I guess it's part of your training. What did you say? I was wondering if knowing all the answers
the way you did was part of your training? Ohh, sure, sure. If all the people understood the things
the way you did, that staged revolution
wouldn't have been necessary. Well, we try to keep up with things – (voice-over)
I couldn't tell him I'd been fooled. And maybe if I'd read the paper
the night before, I wouldn't have been. But I did tell the old boy how the service
keeps us in the know. When it was all told,
I guess he understood that for all of us, military or civilian, it boiled down to whether
you were sucker enough to want a life like the one in the square yesterday or whether you wanted the American way. (TRAIN WHISTLE) The country sure looked good to me
that day. Better than it had ever looked before. I was thinking about that town, and about the towns all over America
just like it. And wondering, how many of them
needed that kind of a jolt. I didn't think there were many. (TRAIN WHISTLE)

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