Cold-War film reviews

Capsule reviews of some Cold War-era films, well-known and otherwise; some available from WPS on VHS.
Entire contents copyright Tom Jennings <tomj @ wps . com> 1999.

Tape 1, 3 Dec 96

Nuclear Detonations: The First Sixty Seconds (B/W, DOD CD 3-211, 1964) Produced by Army Pictorial Center, 'in cooperation with' Staff College of Civil Defense). Film quality: good. Standup lecture by a Rod Sirling/Jack Webb hybrid. Audience seems to be military or technical, as it goes on about the reflected pressure waves and technical trivia of blast and radiation effects. Production is simple, it appears to be all one long take with few edits; there are a couple of close-ups of charts and TV screens. Hell, you can even see the video/lighting guy intentionally sitting in the 'audience'.

The opening sequence has the exact look and feel of all those 50's/60's sci-fi movies, I wonder which came first?

Operation Cue (Color, revision 1964, Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense) Film quality: fair. 30 kiloton test Operation Cue, at the NTS in 1955, designed to explore the effects of small devices upon buildings, equipment, etc. Audience is definitely military/Civil Defense. Much higher production values than previous film, with female (reporter Joan Collin) and male narrator and visual guide. Good shots of CD propaganda trailer and dioramas (the large slogan "SURVIVAL IS YOUR BUSINESS" on the trailer is of puzzling meaning).

The buildings built for the test were also for testing home bomb/fallout shelters; I doubt this was still policy in 1964, hence the warning sticker on the film canister FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES ONLY (then why the '64 edit?). The prop houses were disturbingly detailed, with complete heating systems, furniture, canned goods, fresh foods, automobiles and mannequins with clothing, all carefully arranged. It's likely this film is one of the sources for the nuked-house shots so common these days.

The expected blast sequence (countdown, pan across audience at Media Hill, rising blast cloud, slo-mo of each blasted building) is followed by the standard C.D. followup, what could be recovered and removed following a blast, which shelter designs and house styles survive best, etc., with the woman narrator worrying about preparing food for the survivors and the man repairing equipment.

Information Program Within Public Shelters, (B/W, no date available, DOD CD 11-215, produced by Army Pictorial Center, 'in cooperation with' Staff College of Civil Defense). Film quality: good. Another Rod Sirling-style narrator, popping in and out of context Twilight Zone style, in a crowded fallout shelter, after a fictional nuclear attack. Audience seems to general population. It's all very orderly and reassuring, with large men at desks in the shelter coordinating information, stacking paper, and talking on telephones?

It tells us how we'll be initially interested in our own safety, followed by our families, and we'll form a 'close-knit shelter community' incorporating data from other shelters, all coordinated by the shelter leader. It's not being unkind to call this pure propaganda, low quality spin on an obviously (with historic hindsight available) poorly thought out system.

Day Without End, Duties of a Civil Defense Director, (B/W 1964, CD20 225, U.S. Army) Film quality: good. Narrated fictional account of a town's civil defense. A bit on the dry, dull side, seemingly a film without end. I'd love to have some of the cool CD gadgets in the office! They use the military phrase 'radiological defense', which originated in the Special Weapons Project (late 40's).

At one point CD Director takes input from some housewives, each of whom has a skill to contribute to the organizing process for preparing defense for a city; interestingly, one female character has psychological training and had written a paper (odd, for an Army movie).

Tale of Two Cities, (War Department Presents Army-Navy Screen Magazine Issue #74, 1966, B/W) Quality: fair to good, some scratches. Audience is armed-forces only. Excellent production, filming and writing. Contains lots of the famous footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, descriptions of the damage, maps, etc.(Some of the filming was obviously done with silent cameras; an actor does interesting and illuminating pantomime describing various features of the subject for the camera.) The Army is of course obsessed with the damage caused, covering structural damage in excruciating superficial detail.

Much of the Hiroshima footage is some days after the blast, judging from the cleared roads, substantial U.S. ground equipment, etc. I wonder what the earliest footage really is?

A strangely dispassionate account of the blast from a German priest in the hills above Hiroshima, describing the explosion and damaged bodies. Probably done in the edit.

The story of the Nagasaki bombing is utterly fictional, as it is now known it was a secondary target chosen when the primary target was unreachable, and states erroneously (for the armed forces audience) that the Nagasaki blast was intentionally far from civilian population, and other fabrications.

The reel ends with a burned human shadow on a stone bridge, the narrator stating, "on this spot, outlined in stone, is a figure representing the average man, regardless of his race or creed. These atomic foot prints on the sands of time can never be erased. They point a path which leads to unparalleled progress or unparalleled destruction, just as in the darkness of the desert morning, when the atomic age was born, atomic power puts the question squarely to mankind" (followed by blast footage and sound). Rather unenthusiastic for an Army newsreel!

Tape 2, 7 May 97

Price of Peace and Freedom (Armed Forces Information Film, Office of Information for the Armed Forces Department of Defense, in cooperation with AFL-CIO, #AFIF-315, no date, color, 30 min) Film quality: good, slight red tint (har har). Content: paranoid demonizing horrors. Opens with the screen filled with: "This film states the opinions of the American Security Council Education Foundation concerning the military threat posed by the Warsaw Pact countries to the United States and its allies. It does not represent the official position of the United States Government or the Department of Defense.", followed with JFK yammering on about the arms race, might, right, and the ... Price of Peace and Freedom. Did the USSR remove the missiles from Cuba and give up world domination? This film asks the question, but isn't interested in an answers but it's own.

This quite illustrates the core of the 50's/60's ideological war in a straightforward manner. Us, freedom, them, domination; genuine balls-out Cold War propaganda, extreme right-wing and pro-military buildup. It's almost too scary to parody -- Warsaw Pact training maneuvers are actual threats of war, ours are of course purely defensive. And so on. Good for gems like an uptight, be-decked British general uttering phrases like "our airplanes.... good deep penetrating forces." People joke about stuff like this, but it really did/does exist.

Protection against nuclear radiation (produced by the Army Pictorial Center, Office of the Secretary of the Army, Office of Civil Defense CD3-246, 1967, 6 min, color) Film quality: excellent, but strong red tint. Starts with the usual "radiation is all around us..." business. "Time, Distance, Shielding" mantra for fallout shelters, minimizing exposure, etc. Includes graphics typical for the era, with gamma rays represented by little wiggly worms passing through things. Oh well it's short.

Shelter on a quiet street (produced by Vision Associates for DoD Office of Civil Defense, 25 min, color, no date) Film quality: almost red only, slightly scratchy. A very early 'what is a fallout shelter?' film. This one ends up as a how-to construction project! Prototype for TV's "HOME IMPROVEMENT"? "We live in a world where danger could strike without warning." This is an early one, judging from the cars, I'd say 1962, and openly talks about shelters as protection from nuclear fallout (later ones refer only to vague 'disasters'>). The subject matter is the usual: what comprises adequate shelter, shielding from radiation, home fallout protection.

Sometimes though, you gotta wonder... in the office of the local CD official, Mr. and Mrs. Warren talk about their home shelter... but the only picture on the wall is a mushroom cloud! He proceeds to show them (us) cute little dioramas of shelters you can make yourself, or have a local contractor make. "Honey, we could put it over in the corner of the basement, where the baby crib is now." Dad and the two boys proceed to make the shelter in the basement. with bricks and premix, in glorious detail, consuming almost 20 minutes of the film.

Medical aspects of nuclear weapons (made by cascade pictures, project 5004, of Cal. for ARMED FORCES SPECIAL WEAPONS PROJECT, 20min, color) Film quality: excellent, but bad patch 30 sec in; missing leader. Undated, but no later than '59 since that's when AFSWP was renamed. More nifty graphics, including one of a torso showing the different working parts -- little elves operating tiny silly machines. Has the usual "radiation is all around us", but then goes into specific effects of alpha, beta, gamma on different parts of the body. "If you had any plutonium in you, you wouldn't make any plans to celebrate the event" -- why, is there something wrong?

Though clearly a blatant propaganda film, it contains the odd line, "nuclear radiation is the DDT of mankind" over an outtake from the (?) Mike shot. Shows burying contaminated clothing in a hole in the ground.

There is some interesting differences in even these movies as to what constitutes "safe" -- one says 200 roentgens in a short time is fine, but this one says 150 will make you definitely sick. Not that I want to get into this, it's only that they go so far to reassure us that all their stuff is safe.

Egad! The Japanese are blamed for many of the deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- 'many recovered from their radiation burns, but more would have if they had decent medical facilities like ours". Tack-ey!

More! 'Radiation does cause loss of hair -- but a toupee will take care of it until your hair grows back'! Though over all it's fairly boring, they keep throwing these non sequiturs in to keep me awake.

Operation Ivy (Defense Nuclear Agency, not dated, ca. 1952, color, 10 min) Film quality: excellent, slight scratches. NOTE: The magstripe soundtrack on this film was UTTERLY BLANK. Too bad, as the content is otherwise great! McHale's Navy guy wearing film badge on deck of ship, showing map of Eniwetok Island. A few minutes is spent introducing some Navy officers, showing us some nifty, if today obsolete, equipment. The Mike explosion utterly terrifying; it genuinely made my scalp crawl. Good footage of blast shock wave traveling over the ocean surface towards boat; the camera vibrates when the wave hits the boat.

There's the famous eyeball hemispherical cloud; image of destroyed NYC skyline superimposed onto film! So that's where that came from. Egad! The pentagon building used as indicator of crater size!!

From http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq4-1.htm: Operation Ivy, 1952. Washington: Defense Nuclear Agency, c1982. OCLC 9379520. NTIS# ADA128082. [2 detonations conducted by JTF-132 during October-November 1952, at Enewetak. One of the events, designated Mike, was the first thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb. At least 5,258 Navy and 178 Marine Corps personnel participated.].

Tape 3, 7 May 97

Effects of Radiation on Farm Animals (USDA, color, 14 min), marked 'RDO #6') Container was postal labeled: 'from: Eloy Ramirez, Roswell Fire Dep't, 200 S. Richardson, Roswell NM 88201; to: Dep't US Military Affairs, Office of Civil Emergency Preparedness, Box 4277, Santa Fe NM 87501') Film quality good, though reddish. Oddly dumbed down for a general audience, reminds me of those dull films in grade school, except they show cows rapidly dying after dosing them with intense gamma radiation. Excellent close-ups of fatal diarrhea, nasal discharges, spasms, and such, including following a cow around the barnyard photographing its failing legs. What did that person think as they did this? Is this science? They do the same for chickens, bloody nasal discharges and all. "Chickens seem to be 25% more radiation resistant than other animals." they proclaim. Even granting that this might be real science, it's hard to see from here. Who is the intended audience?! This sort of phenomenon actually heartens me; not that such horrors are done, but that the perpetrators live in such a narrow world that their own systems and processes cause them to document this into the public domain. (Small favors...)

Operation Cue (Color, revision 1964, Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense) Film quality: very good. 30 kiloton test Operation Cue, at the NTS in 1955, designed to explore the effects of small devices upon buildings, equipment, etc. Audience is definitely military/Civil Defense. Much higher production values than previous film, with female and male narrator and visual guide. Good shots of CD propaganda trailer and dioramas (the large slogan "SURVIVAL IS YOUR BUSINESS" on the trailer is of puzzling meaning).

The buildings built for the test were also for testing home bomb/fallout shelters; I doubt this was still policy in 1964, hence the warning sticker on the film canister FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES ONLY (then why the '64 edit?). The prop houses were disturbingly detailed, with complete heating systems, furniture, canned goods, fresh foods, automobiles and mannequins with clothing, all carefully arranged. It's likely this film is one of the sources for the nuked-house shots so common these days.

The expected blast sequence (countdown, pan across audience at Media Hill, rising blast cloud, slo-mo of each blasted building) is followed by the standard C.D. followup, what could be recovered and removed following a blast, which shelter designs and house styles survive best, etc., with the woman narrator worrying about preparing food for the survivors and the man repairing equipment.

Fallout Shelter: what is it? (produced by Army Pictorial Center, for DoD Office of Civil Defense, DOD CD #5-214, 12 min, b/w) Film quality: good. Early 60's vintage. Like a 60's game show, with a guy in a suit walking from behind upright boards with weird square patterns on them, who proceeds to give the standard lecture -- complete with pointer in hand -- the characteristics and dangers of fallout. Time, distance, shielding, etc. Types of shelters, construction, etc. So many of these films are so similar I think they're working with a single source document, not really a surprise I guess.

Nuclear effects for monitor training (produced by Army Pictorial Center, Office of Civil Defense, #DOD CD3-210, 1964, 10min, b/w) Film quality: fair, scratched. More gratuitous mushroom clouds. Cute little model-railroad town, with an ugly man in a bad suit sprinkling 'fallout' over it for effect while he tells us about the effects of nuclear bombs (blast, radiation, etc.). Footage from what looks like Operation Cue (NTS). More gratuitous mushroom clouds. Rotating globes and bad drawings. Another explanation of dosage vs. rate. A chart showing some Bikini shot that had 100 roentgen rate 300 miles away.

About Fallout (produced by Wcilding for DoD Office of Civil Defense, 25 min, 25 min, color, no date) Film quality: very good but reddish.Early 60's (probably 1964, judging by cars) school-science type film about fallout, with those cool simplistic graphics and corny sci-fi soundtrack. Pretty bluntly talks about millions dying in a nuclear attack, but some will be saved... presumably from the information presented in the film.

Describes normal background radiation (people in the sun at the beach, etc.), effects of distance, shielding, weather, etc. on fallout; effects of radiation on living cells; rate vs. dosage; silly decontamination procedures (brushing off clothes, washing off food); "Ingested fallout will do you no immediate harm; however, it might have long term effects such as reduced lifetime..." and so on and so on. Some cool outtakes from stock footage (man with waldoes, mushroom clouds). Essentially an overly simplistic description of nuclide decay, shielding, trivializing the obvious dangers -- what else?

Invisible Enemy (produced by Univ. Mich. for Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization region 4, 28min, color) Film quality: excellent. No date, but I guess 1959-1963. Narrator is a 'scientist' in an actual white lab coat. "Radiation is all around us..." accompanied by a vague graphic, and a really cool old RCL Inc. vacuum tube decimal bench counter. More brief outtakes from Hiroshima (aerial view of mushroom), high-school atomic graphics. Bluntly states that natural uranium (U238) is not radioactive (liar).

Yeow! Shows someone lowering a jar of stuff into the swimming pool of the EBR reactor at INEL, by hand via a cable! (I know it's EBR-1 because Josh & I visited it Aug96 and I have pictures).

Lovely hand-painted graphics help explain: what happens when an enemy missile vaporizes your city? showing fallout motion, ahh, you've seen it all before. Another long segment about how many people will die, and the advantages if fallout shelters. The narrator feels -- as a husband and father -- that everyone should have a fallout shelter in their basements. (Man from 'audience' asks "but my kids play in the basement!" Scientist says, "why, make it attractive so kids will play in it!". It then delves into the detailed do-it-yourself shelter construction.

Other films

The following films were rejected for various reasons -- most of them for boredom extreme enough to be dangerous, a few are non-government produced and copyrighted, but some simply due to budgetary reasons.

Solar Energy: The Great Adventure (US DOE, EPA and Office of Civil Preparedness, undated, ca. Carter era, color, 25 min) Film quality: excellent. Content: fair, historically interesting. Narrated by Eddie Albert, high production quality. An early, somewhat starry-eyed pro-solar-energy infomercial. Visits a number of diverse SE sites. Definitely populist/lefty POV. States "...in May the president [Carter] stated the US must push for solar energy..." -- what year was this? Does a good job of discussing practicalities, up-front solar costs vs. ongoing expenses of heavily subsidized fossil fuels. More than a couple of the small businesses making the equipment talk about inability to get funds; these are definitely the first wave of interest spurred by Carter's tax breaks (and the poor quality of some got solar a bad rep). Such optimism!

They cover urban systems just as well as rural and suburban. All in all a pretty good look at early solar industry and practical activism. What ever happened to the New Life Farm (in MO)?

The Bob Knowlton Story (copyright Roundtable Films, 113 N. San Vicente Blvd, Beverly Hills CA 90211, print #186, color, 23min) Film quality: excellent. Those gargantuan aerospace corporations of the 60's were apparently seething soap operas filled with deep inter-personal relationships -- the introduction of a new enthusiastic and uppity person into a team wreaks havoc on good old Bob, who doesn't speak out, and eventually upsets the rest of the team. Gee, management is hard work!

It's easy to imagine this as a prequel to FALLING DOWN starring Michael Douglas; Bob even looks the part!

From http://www.vphi.com/main/pr_info/program/287.htm: Designed to drive discussion about the impact that leadership style and an unempowering work environment can have on people's performance and commitment, a dramatization depicts the management dilemma of Bob Knowlton, a team leader for a satellite communications project. Because of its flexibility, the film can be used for communications, situational leadership, DISC and social styles training.

This is the original Roundtable Film version, it was remade years later by Zigarmi Associates -- why? It is still for sale -- who buys it? Worse yet -- who watches it?

From my small sample of your films, I would guess that these are comprise the largest category of CD films -- "disaster preparedness". It sounds so functional, but of course the result is dull, gray, bureaucratic mush. They're all pretty much the same. I won't be transferring these to video.

Face of Disaster (Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, #CD-20-239, b/w, 10min) Film quality: good. "It came without warning, as most disasters do..." Sorry, no nukes, about Alaska quake, some actual footage by a civvie with an 8mm amateur camera. Pretty good images of the earthquake, so extreme if you saw it on a bad movie you wouldn't believe it. Typical testosterone-laden announcer and inane background music. A tornado, a couple of floods, a hurricane, fire, a score more tornadoes, all thrown in for good import. The point of all this is somewhat obscure.

If Disaster Strikes (Civil Preparedness, no date, ca. 1970, b/w, 15min) (canister is labeled '#L-27, return to: Film Library, 408 Galisteo St, New Mexico Dep't of Public Health, Santa Fe, New Mexico') Film quality: fair, very badly reddish. A cold war nuclear attack preparedness medical self-help film starring Danny Thomas. It's part of some training program, so this is mainly an infomercial for the training program. It contains some badly acted medical disasters and their first aid by mere untrained civvies (bleeding, acid-on-face, child drowning, etc.). In the latter the mouth-to-mouth on the prone youngster is ripe for out-of-context exploitation. Towards the end it briefly describes the course material and advantages, blah blah. I guess the atom scare got to Danny. Opening graphic of a stylized prone body (black on red background) is reminiscent of an old Bond film.

Respond: On Site Assistance (Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, #DDCP-20-283, undated, ca. 1972, color, 23 min) Canister is labeled 'This film should be shown by qualified Regional and/or State civil preparedness representatives, who are prepared to answer detailed questions about On-Site Assistance procedures' and to keep people awake during viewing. Film quality: good, faint reddish tint. Another in the endless series of disaster preparedness films, though a good sight better production and narrative quality. John Chancellor narrates. Still, it's the usual mix -- 5% tantalizing disaster footage, 90% fiftyish caucasian bureaucrats behind desks delivering monotonous monologues, the last 5% consists of tables, charts, rooms full of safety equipment, etc.

After the great Atom Scare ended, Civil Defense what had all the air took out of it.

Trouble at Tonti Station (Office of Civil Defense, #CD-53-276, no date, ca. 1965, color, 25min) Film quality: good, very reddish. Content: DULLSVILLE! TOO LONG!! Another in the seemingly endless series of disaster preparedness, this one based upon a real disaster at the Tonti (Rail) Station in Salem, Illinois, on 7 July 1970. "Why, one day these volunteers may save a life through their preparedness." Ayy-yup. (I joke at the awkward style of the film, but you can't laugh at volunteers put their lives on the line). Filmic tension is attempted by rapidly flipping between scenes a few times until you get a headache.

(July 2004 note: T.J. Fulton, son of a Salem FD Lt. wrote me: `... There are some interesting points I would like to make clear. The Accident happend on July, 7th 1970, not that it really matters. If you happen to watch the movie when the fire department gets called to the accident, truck 17 (the first responding truck) the one with the awesome siren heads south, when in reality Tonti is north of Salem. Salem Fire department still owns Old 17 (number 9517) and it even has that siren which by the way is a motorola experiment gone wrong. If you would like to see a synopsis of 9517 click on the "Apparatus" link on www.salemfire.org.'

The main story (a disaster-about-to-happen at Tonti Station) unfolds slowly, interspersed with introductions, disaster simulations for volunteer training, lots of cool 60's CD logos plastered on WWII equipment, mayor, Director of CD, etc. Two doctors eat at a real A&W in their car! When the disaster finally happens, it's a big dull-fest, as there's only stills of the giant wreck, and excruciating detail on the cleanup, rescue, and so on. Whew! Glad that's over! Wait! The closing titles actually achieve some artistic effect...

The People and Apollo (Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, #DDCP-20-279, no date, ca. 1971, color, 19min) Film quality: good, sound good. Content: exceedingly dull -- good only for protracted torture. Filmed in Florida near the Kennedy Space Center, shows Civil Defense handling the crowds surrounding the Apollo 16 launch. The Director of CD wears an incredibly red sports coat, the reddish tint to the film notwithstanding. I am learning that to be involved in Civil Defense, you had to be utterly humorless and uninteresting; no wonder CD was phased out, everyone got bored. Me too, watching this film. Who makes these things, and why? This film is utterly without interest, content, redeeming or prurient value.

The one tiny glimmer of humor, involves a speed-up sequence to lend humor to the placement of porta-potties. I am not joking.

Copyrighted films: These are slightly more watchable than the previous CD films, but not that much. GROUPTHINK is OK in it's own way. Can't be distributed on tape.

Group Dynamic: Groupthink (copyright CRM McGraw-Hill Films, #106683-7, color, 23min, 1973) Film quality: excellent. Content: actually OK at face value. Industrial culture indoctrination film. It's really the film version of some industrial social psychologists book about Groupthink. The Dr. himself and one of his grad students -- in an incredibly mod 70's office and excruciatingly clichŽ 70's fashion -- it really is distracting -- the rug in the office alone distracts me -- easy done in this film -- wait -- stop -- help --

The subject itself is actually slightly interesting; the dear Dr. covers historic bad decisions; the Navy's decision to ignore the Pearl Harbor radar warning, crossing the 38th parallel in Korea based upon (groupthink) stereotypes, etc. The grad student is just dripping hair and loud wide clothing -- I'm sorry. However this film -- as is typical for this genre -- beats the dead horse into a thin smelly film. The Dr.'s tie is at least 4" wide!

In fact it is a good insight into industrial meetings, which I've certainly attended enough of and can attest to their oppressiveness. As far as these sort of films go it's actually OK in it's own right, a rarity indeed. Even the pacing is OK, and the use of historic examples does illuminate his points and keep it interesting. But the fashion is so distracting!!

From http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/av/FVL/catalog/group_dynamics____groupthink_.html: An analysis of the eight symptoms of "group think," developed by Dr. Irving Janis. Examples of group dynamics in action: the illusion of invulnerability; shared stereotypes of the enemy; rationalization; the illusion of morality and self-censorship.

Blowing Hot and Cold (copyright BNA Communications Inc, 9401 Decoverly Hall Rd, Rockville MD 20850, color, 20 min) WARNING: reel is labeled "REWARD... for info leading to conviction of pirates of this film" Additionally labeled: 'FM 60.1, Blowing Hot and Cold, ETP: Intro to Emergency Management Crse, IEM, Activity No. 4, Category I' and 'FEMA, Region VI, Training and Education, Federal Center, Denton TX 76201'. Film quality: excellent. British actors and accents, very high production quality, real acting. Sales and manufacturing arguing about what the goal is -- to copy a Japanese heater/air conditioner or design a better one -- but the real point of this movie is to point out the endless bickering between sales and production is easily solved through communication --- in other words, a standard industrial culture film. The verbosity is excessive bordering on psychotic. PS: England sure has deteriorated, they apparently are not even aware of it. Why is everything British so shabby, unkempt and dirty?

And what does this have to do with Emergency Management? Where has Civil Defense gotten itself into this time?

Radiation...Naturally (Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc, 7101 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda MD 20814, (301)-654-9260, color, 28.5min, 1981) Possibly free-loan prints from: Modern Talking Picture Service, Inc, 5000 Park St. North, St. Petersburg FL 33709, (813)-541-6661. Film quality: excellent. Nuclear industry propaganda film with accompanying printed material. Black woman EPA employee hiking with friends in Colorado mountains tells the story of naturally occurring radiation, or more specifically, ionizing radiation. Combines on-the-street news-style interviews with standard high-school physics animation. Over all quite predictable, radiation occurs naturally, from many sources; what is radiation; solar radiation; alpha, beta, gamma radiation; natural shielding; and the rest of reasonably basic pedestrian physics. A good portion of the film is spent on the innards of nuclear power plants. The accompanying materials make it clear that the goal is to down play fears of radiation.

Introduction to a RADEF exercise (Office of the Secretary of the Army, Office of Civil Defense, #CD20-252, 1964, 6min, b/w) Film quality: good. Overt cold war propaganda. Would Mr. ?, a high school physics teacher, who follows the cold war in the papers as does anyone, is asked to be a RADEF coordinator. Was this a parallel CD program? Apparently one if the components was a phone tree. It goes over the usual home-shelter stocking nonsense. Mr. So and So plans with his all-volunteer staff on various and sundry.

"The president blah blah... the nuclear blast was over Central City... blah blah..." See? Aren't you glad you prepared yourself? (The military-produced films are always the best!)

Firefighting in the nuclear age (National AudioVisual Center, GSA, Civil Emergency Preparedness, 12min, color)

film quality: excellent, but missing footage. Audience: industrial. Takes place at INEL. A basic industrial training film for firefighting in nuclear environments. After some intro, goes into a simulated fire, showing monitoring systems, fire department action, decontaminating personnel after putting out the fire, and so on. Not a propaganda film per se, if this was their standard practice no wonder they made a lot of messes.

Handling of radiation accident patients (produced by Motion Picture Service, USDA, for ACE, 20min, color) Film quality: excellent, though slight reddish tint; content: fair.

Undated, but I believe 1966-1970. "By the year 2000, indications are half our power will come from nuclear energy". (Nuclear) accidents will happen, so we better learn to live with it. This film is trying to reassure staff that radiation victims are no hazard to emergency personnel and require immediate attention.

One staged scenario shows someone pouring radioactive liquid into an open container, and >flash< criticality! OOPS! In the hospital, the nurse is superstitious, the doctor disavows her of it. OOPS! A scientist inhales Sr90, he goes to the hospital, etc. But! The scientist is a black man! First black person I can recall in any of these films.

They also call for actions that likely will not and doubtfully ever did happen -- a woman was involved in an accident with a truck that spilled cartons marked RADIATION, though none were breached and the woman was uncontaminated -- yet they assumed she may have been exposed and test her at the local hospital. Fat chance! Too political at any historic time.

They recommend going to your local AEC officer for radiation information and resources. Hmm.


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