Interesting discoveries about 1937 film “A Day at the Races”
I became suspicious of this film when I saw the sketch called “Tootsie Frootsie Ice Cream”. The bait and switch technique of the horse race tip salesman reminded me of Obamacare because of all the books the mark had to buy to decipher the code that contained the horse race tip.
So what in 1937 could this be about, if it were veiled political commentary? I immediately looked up *S*ocial *S*ecurity in the wiki and soon noticed that 1937 was the first year that SS collected the payroll tax. I then noticed that the film is about obtaining the financing of a retirement retreat for rich folks called “*S*tandish *S*anitarium”. You see this is a sanitarium with bell hops! It’s most imporant patient/customer, Mrs. Upjohn is a lonely rich widow with hypochondria.
At first the goal of the main charactors in the film is to obtain the money from Mrs. Upjohn, but that plan goes awry so the plan changes to winning it at the race track, *S*parkling *S*prings race track that is.
Just before the Tootsie Frootsie sketch, is a sketch where the Sheriff a demands payment from one of the characters. Ultimately, the Sheriff receives the same five dollar bill three times, but imagines that he is receiving fifteen dollars. This suggests that the authors may have been concerned that social security was too much like a Ponzi scheme.
During the sheriff sketch, Harpo steals the *S*heriff’s *s*ock. This could be a suggestion that the government won’t be able to hold on the the SS money which people might otherwise have socked away!
That is about all from the film that I noticed. I could easily have missed other things. I had a hard time making out a lot of the lyrics for instance. A number of instrumental tunes are played which might have suggestive titles, but I would not know them.
One of the writers, Robert Pirosh, adapted an Ayn Rand play for the screen so it’s certainly plausible that he would have been skeptical of Social Security.
Playlist of above starting with Sheriff sketch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMh2Cc2cL-s&list=PLWx2tsUphEGplQ9EUPiNruIGlBjEjXIJ5