by Cary O'Dell
Family disharmony sets Mrs. Anderson in motion. She leaps up and walks over to her husband. "Now I have something to say about this," she says, "I'm ashamed of you children and I insist that they pitch in and help."
But Dad's already cried "Uncle," grumbling, "If I can't even sell my own family on this...." Mournful music plays over the scene as Mom and Dad exit the living room, defeated.
Then Bud makes the disastrous decision to try to salvage everything. "Hey, Dad," he yells, running after his father. We see the suddenly relight face of Mr. Anderson as he thinks that the kids have changed their minds. But the elation isn't for long, especially when Bud states, "You'll probably better off out of it. Knocking yourself out for it, day and night, and, like Claude's dad says, 'For what?'"
"'For what"? What does that mean?" Mr. Anderson asks. Meanwhile, Betty and Kathy stare nervously at the floor, embarrassed on Bud's behalf. (Yeah, Bud, way to help.)
Next we get a short flashback: the picture turns distorted and wavy and we are suddenly in Claude's house. Bud and Claude are seen working on homework on the coffee table. Claude's infamous father (Mr. Messner, we learn in the closing credits), heavy-set and sporting suspenders, is seen reading the newspaper. "Well," he says, "I see the boys back in Washington have coined up a new phrase to sell their savings bonds." He holds up the full-page ad where "PEACE POWER" is "smeared" (cf. a McCarthy-era "smear campaign") across the top of the sheet. "And what does it mean?," he asks, "Nothing!"
But Claude's dad isn't all bad, he goes on to say that "everyone" knows that savings bonds are a smart, sound investment, so why "waste all our time on this patriotic stuff, I ask ya?"
Claude, blond and buzz cut, tries to carry on, "Yeah, well we gotta study now, Pop."
But Dad isn't stopping. He tells them to study hard and get smart, so that no one will try to "pull the wool over their eyes" someday.
Back in the Anderson living room, Mr. Anderson is asking his son, "And you believe all that?"
Bud responds, "Well, you know, Claude's dad's no dummy...." (A somewhat questionable assessment actually.)
Mr. Anderson turns his attention to his other two children, "Did you hear what your brother just told us?" he asks the girls.
Betty says, "Well, I think Claude's dad's got a point. Those slogan's don't do much good. It would be better to say it's just a good investment."
Mr. Anderson is steaming again, "You mean you don't believe that buying bonds has anything to do with protecting our country? Preserving peace?" Mr. Anderson (again, very disappointed) laments the apathy and indifference ("and in my own home!") of his children, and probably all of the youth of America.
He rants again, "Do you kids realize what would happen if everyone in America was as little concerned with our way of life as you are? Why freedom would go zinging right out the door!"
Betty reasons, "Oh, that's not going to happen."
"It could happen much easier than you think. And if it did, if this freedom was suddenly taken away from you, like it has been in some countries, you'd be the loudest squawkers of all. Your kind always is. You couldn't take it. I don't think you could handle it for 24 hours," he says, even going so far as to stomp his foot!
Bud, apparently a gambling man, says "How much you wanna bet?" This quickly gives Dad an idea. (Kitten, seeing her father: "Uh oh, I don't like that look in your eye.")
Dad begins again, "As a rule, I'm against gambling, but this is one gamble I have to take. For 24 hours you are going to live, not in American but in...ah, Tyrantland..." (not "Fatherland"?).
Dad's idea is to turn the Anderson home into a mini-dictatorship for 24 hours (Kitten: "Boy this sounds like fun!"). If the kids can take it for a day, they win, but if they can't, and give up before that 24 hours is out, then they lose. The stakes: If they make it, Dad will give them each $18.75 to spend anyway they want. (Kitten: "Boy I'm for that!") If they lose, they have to help Dad with the campaign and they have to spend the $18.75 on a savings bond. (We're told that $18.75 will buy a $25.00 bond.)
The Anderson kids smell easy money. The bet, the game, is on.
But first Betty insists on some ground rules. Dad responds, pointing his finger straight ahead (looking not unlike Uncle Sam in the famous "I Want You" recruitment poster), "Okay," he says, "I'll only use the methods that are used in those countries." ("Those countries" are noticeably not named.)
Bud calls the whole thing a "cinch bet" but Betty suspects something's up for Dad to so freely promise them so much money.
The experiment is to commence at 8 that night. The new citizens of Tyrantland are to assemble in the hallway. Promptly.
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