This film is part of Free

Uncle Sam - the Good Neighbour

Adolf Hitler glowers from the cover of a Spanish-language version of Mein Kampf in this account of how US diplomats fought the rise of Nazism in South America in 1938.

Anthology 1939 18 mins


In the ‘crisis year’ of 1938, American diplomats and foreign-service officers aimed to bring US Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s ‘Good Neighbour Policy’ to South America, where Nazi Germany’s trade agreements threatened to lure countries like Brazil and Argentina into fascism’s sphere of influence. This issue shows the rigorous recruitment and training process for entry into the foreign-service and assesses the success of Cordell’s policy.

Although low-key in the context of the March of Time’s other ‘crisis’ films of 1938, this issue nonetheless shows evidence of a coherent editorial policy, an acute awareness of the danger of the Nazi threat and a willingness to shout about it. The reconstructions of the recruitment process for the diplomatic service are somewhat stilted (and inadvertently amusing to modern viewers), but the patrician young men who feature in the film show that the ostensibly democratic call for ‘able citizens’ to join the revitalised American foreign service was, in 1938, very much restricted to privileged white males.