This film is part of Free

Old Dixie New Boom

Neighbourhood vigilantes tell an unscrupulous trader to ‘hop it’, as MP Ellen Wilkinson’s bill to protect working class buyers from Hire Purchase swindlers becomes reality.

Anthology 1938 21 mins


A spirit of progress drives the stories in this March of Time newsreel issue. Charles Herty was a US chemist whose innovative work is conveyed in dynamic images of mills producing gleaming white paper from the brown pulp of Southern pines. In Britain, Ellen Wilkinson MP beams with delight as she delivers the news that her Hire Purchase Bill has been passed, and finally, Russian exile Igor Sikorsky is seen with one of his visionary designs: a four-engined plane that would revolutionise air travel.

The second episode in this issue was made for the British edition only and features Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson, whose campaigning work to curb common abuses among HP lenders led to the 1938 Hire Purchase act. This piece of legislation imposed restrictions on many of the malpractices re-enacted in this episode, including the prevention of lenders entering a purchaser’s property without a court order. The practice of ‘linked on contracts’ is also nicely dramatised, in a sequence which shows an oily salesman persuading a worried looking woman and her husband to add a piano to a furniture order, only to repossess everything when the couple cannot keep up with the payments.