Cast & Crew
Allyn B. Carrick
Professor Walter B. Pitkin
This documentary examines the role of munitions manufacturers in the instigation and continuation of global war. Prefaced with remarks made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt about curbing the arms race, the film describes the history and inner workings of many munitions factories, including the Krupp factory in Germany; Vickers-Armstrong in England; Snyder-Creusot in France; Skoda in Czechoslovakia; Mitsui in Japan; and Colt, Du Pont and Remington in the United States. Several prominent European arms makers and dealers, including the De Wendel company and the mysterious Sir Basil Zaharoff, are also exposed. As newsreel shots of warfare, from Europe to China, and deserted battlefields are shown, the film addresses the facts concerning questionable deals and episodes within the world of international arms transactions. The Hitler-Thyssen deal, in which Fritz Thyssen, an iron and steel manufacturing magnate, financed Hitler's rise to power on the hope that he would start a profitable war, is discussed. Also examined is the Briey-Dombasle arms deal, in which French and German munitions manufacturers during World War I agreed not to bomb certain cities where their factories were located and also engineered a plan whereby French arms makers could sell their weapons to Germany through neutral Switzerland and thereby prolong the war. The film analyzes the various subsidiaries--mining, steel mills and railways--and interlocking directorates of the arms makers, and reveals their penchant for inciting war scares to promote sales. In conclusion, the filmmakers offer a grim prediction about the future of air, gas and germ warfare.
Film Daily lists Monroe Shaff as the film's director, not producer. Burnet Hershey's credit varied from review to review, one listing him only as "author," another only as "dialoguer," another only as the story writer, and still another as both story writer and adaptor. According to Hollywood Reporter, the film passed the New York censors after footage exposing the Japanese armament policy was eliminated. Several reviewers noted that the film's release coincided with the resumption of hearings of the U.S. Senate's Munitions Investigating Committee, which was headed by Senator Gerald P. Nye. Nye, alarmed by revelations about the questionable practices of the world's munitions manufacturers during the post-World War I period, particularly in regard to Germany, Latin America and Japan, instigated congressional hearings in February 1934. Sir Basil Zaharoff testified before Nye's committee, as did Pierre Du Pont. Variety stated that "while foreign ammunition kings" were both "pictured and mentioned," none of the American arms makers were named, "although the picture goes into the Colt, Du Pont, Remington plants." According to Variety, the film was shown in December 1936 following Zaharoff's death. Hollywood Reporter notes that to capitalize on Zaharoff's death, producer Monroe Shaff planned to write and shoot three reels of new footage featuring the munitions manufacturer, combine it with footage from Dealers in Death and release it as Mystery Man of Europe. The revised script was to be co-written by Joseph Hoffman and was to be shot at Talisman Studios. Preferred Pictures was then supposed to "roadshow" the film. No indication that this revised version was ever produced has been found, however.