Daily Projections, 5-21-2019: Soak The Rich (1936)

Title: Soak The Rich
Director: Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur
Country of Origin: USA
Year: 1936
Screening format: 16mm on DVD
Setting: home
First viewing? yes

Produced, directed, and of course written by two of the finest screenwriters of the Studio era, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Walter Connolly plays an absurdly wealthy many (during the Depression, no less) convinced that Communists and FDR are out to get him. An irreverent look at just about every facet of American politics and higher education in the 1930s, like any good MacArthur and Hecht film, everyone is relentlessly skewered and pilloried through witty dialog and nearly absurdist irony. And everyone, from the FBI and the wealthy, to aspiring student radicals and a single rogue anarchist come across as complete fools. Soak The Rich proves that even in 1936, college students thought everyone who disagreed with them was Hitler (“We don’t wanna hear anything you have to say. Who does your father think he is? Hitler?!” is an actual line spoken in this film.) If Hecht and MacArthur could see us now…Well, for one thing, they would almost certainly make this film all over again (then they’d be run out of town because comedy is dead in Hollywood and Ben Hecht also happened to be an advocate for the Jewish State). As it stands, Soak The Rich is a film every modern politician and college student would likely consider hate speech and also gloriously funny (and would be even funnier if the lines were delivered quicker).

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