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By Phil Hall | November 12, 2001

Imagine if William Castle directed an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” and you’ll have an idea what the weird little short “Trade Day” is like. Set in a bucolic Alabama village in the early 1950s, “Trade Day” brings together a quartet of wheezing old men who meet monthly to trade skanky merchandise back and forth among themselves while dropping thudding insults about one another. One of the old timers, named J.B., brings his eight-year-old grandson along, although the boy has little to do except watch the aged fools barter about.
However, J.B. has occasional flashbacks (shot in a blue tint, for no obvious reason) regarding his son, an Army sergeant who was horribly burned in the war and was dying a slow death in a military hospital. In these flashbacks, the old coot takes matters into his own hands by wheeling his burned son out of the hospital amid the impotent protests of the chubby night nurse on duty. J.B. then drives his son to an empty field, turns euthanasic and blasts him with a pistol to the base of his neck. J.B. buries his son in the field, and the chubby nurse writes up a phony death report which her distracted superior signs in a hurry. What????????????????
“Trade Day” is astonishing to watch. The molasses-thick Dixie-wannabe acting is like a failed casting call for “Hee-Haw” and the grisly plot twist comes totally out of nowhere–it is almost like opening a closet and having a freight train zoom through the door frame. Someone named Dawson Williams is responsible for this film and the press kit claims the film was inspired by a true story and is dedicated to the his grandfather, who happened to be named J.B. (although the closing credits contradict these sentiments and claim the story and characters are fictitious). “Trade Day” is perhaps the first time in movie history that the depiction of a murder is lovingly dedicated to the memory of a grandparent.

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