“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Whoppi Goldberg as Celie used that line in the Color Purple, and for sure she wasn’t the first nor will be the last. The beleaguered big US carmakers ought to take a lesson from their own lessons. Heck, General Motors and Ford’s problems today are pretty much the same as they were some 61 years ago – high labor costs and lower productivity.
It was not happy days at GM in the winter of 1945-46. The United Auto Workers union had just come into being shortly before the start of World War II, and wartime controls had regulated wage and price increases just like foreign competition is squeezing today. Hey, war or no war, business problems are business problems, then and now. The suits at GM were used to having their way and telling workers what to do and how to do it. (Anybody see anything new here?) So, GM came up with this movie which I am pleased to present for your viewing pleasure titled; “The Easier Way.”
Basically, the movie hypes efficiency to workers as a means to increasing profits. This is one great flick, I think, and the social commentary of 1946 is a real bonus to the entertainment value. The story goes like this; Bob and Marge invite Dick and Anne for dinner. Our host Bob, a dweebish engineer GM suit type just can’t manage to stop yapping about his “motion study” work project, and how, when applied to just anything, will make the world better for everybody. Even Marge begs him to quit before Dick and Anne show up, “Oh, Bob, not now!”. But no sooner than just after they walk through the door, Bob whips out this peg board thing like the golf tee game they still have at Denny’s, I think, to show off the ease of his pet “motion study.” He proceeds to con Dick to give it a go, and being the guest, what’s a Dick to do? Anyhow, Dick (a GM line foreman) starts out very skeptically over the whole thing, and after several bumbled tries, Bob insults him as being “about average,” and persuades him to do it another way. Sound familiar? Well, this is when I would have grabbed Anne and left, but no, Dick, being Dick, soon gets the hang of a quicker way of putting the pegs in the board. With all this fun happening, Marge and Anne can’t resist and want to party along with the doods. Soon, they are on it, chirping. “Oooh, that looks like fun.”
The whole ruse is, of course, tied to better production of cars and everyone just has a high old time doing dinner. In the end, Marge steals the show by wrapping her apron around Bob intimating he should find a better way to do the dishes. “Everybody Is Up To Something.” sm Enjoy, I did. Here’s the link to the show…