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Old June 5 2014, 07:27 PM   #856
Christopher
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Just finished Panic in Year Zero! I'm not sure if it was a movie or a survivalist tract. It was about a family that was out camping when nuclear war struck (they didn't duck and cover!), and that tried to survive in the breakdown of society. And Milland's character had all these cold, ruthless, every-family-for-itself survival strategies already at his beck and call as if he'd been planning for the apocalypse for years. At times it seemed like his whole family was being held hostage by this paranoid strongman, however much he paid lip service to believing in law and order and civilization (just, y'know, not at the moment).

It's also the nuclear apocalypse as written by Charles Dickens, since -- due to the low budget -- the family keeps coincidentally running into the same people they'd tangled with before.
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Old June 5 2014, 08:26 PM   #857
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Just finished Panic in Year Zero! I'm not sure if it was a movie or a survivalist tract. It was about a family that was out camping when nuclear war struck (they didn't duck and cover!), and that tried to survive in the breakdown of society. And Milland's character had all these cold, ruthless, every-family-for-itself survival strategies already at his beck and call as if he'd been planning for the apocalypse for years. At times it seemed like his whole family was being held hostage by this paranoid strongman, however much he paid lip service to believing in law and order and civilization (just, y'know, not at the moment).

It's also the nuclear apocalypse as written by Charles Dickens, since -- due to the low budget -- the family keeps coincidentally running into the same people they'd tangled with before.
That movie played often on TV when I was growing up. I admit it always spooked me a bit since my family would often go camping in the hills for the weekend. It was all too easy to imagine being in that situation once the mushroom clouds starting rising over Seattle and Tacoma . . ..

To be fair to the Milland character, people planning ahead for World War III was a pretty common pastime back them. This was the era of the backyard bomb shelter, remember. Milland's character was hardly the only American dad who was kept awake a nights wondering how he was going to protect his family after the Bomb . . . .
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Old June 5 2014, 09:03 PM   #858
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

^Yeah, but were all of them so focused on hoarding supplies and guns and hiding in a cave in the woods and letting everyone else go hang, rather than joining together with their fellow survivors to work for the common good and restore order as quickly as possible?
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Old June 5 2014, 10:04 PM   #859
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
^Yeah, but were all of them so focused on hoarding supplies and guns and hiding in a cave in the woods and letting everyone else go hang, rather than joining together with their fellow survivors to work for the common good and restore order as quickly as possible?
You've never watched an episode of Doomsday Preppers have you?
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Old June 6 2014, 12:32 AM   #860
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Just my point -- the movie felt like a piece of survivalist propaganda. What I'm saying is that it's hard to believe that the average 1950s suburbanite would've embraced the kind of kill-or-be-killed survivalist planning that we associate with fringe mindsets today.
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Old June 6 2014, 03:13 AM   #861
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
^Yeah, but were all of them so focused on hoarding supplies and guns and hiding in a cave in the woods and letting everyone else go hang, rather than joining together with their fellow survivors to work for the common good and restore order as quickly as possible?
Remember the Twilight Zone episode about the backyard bunker? When suburban neighbors turned on each other in fear of an impending apocalypse?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_She..._Twilight_Zone)

Or that other TZ ep where Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery regard each other with suspicion in a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Or what happened when the the Monsters were due on Maple Street?

Not a lot of working together for the common good there.

For better or for worse, the idea that the post-Bomb world would be a brutal, dog-eat-dog battle for survival is hardly a new one. These same issues were very much in the air back then . . . and with more reason.

Like I said, I saw this movie plenty of times as a kid and took it at face value. The fifties and early sixties were not all "Leave to Beaver" and civics lessons. There was a lot of fear and paranoia . . . and legitimate worries about what would happen to the thin veneer of civilization when the bombs fell.

"Panic in the Year Zero" was very much of its time.
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Old June 6 2014, 04:54 AM   #862
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

But the difference is that Serling was critiquing the inhumanity of that behavior. Milland (who directed as well as starring) seemed to be endorsing it. That's what I mean -- it came off more as a how-to guide than a cautionary tale.
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Old June 6 2014, 09:48 AM   #863
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

It probably was. There was certainly plenty of that around, too. I don't remember details of Panic In The Year Zero at this point, but I remember not liking it much.
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Old June 6 2014, 03:31 PM   #864
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
But the difference is that Serling was critiquing the inhumanity of that behavior. Milland (who directed as well as starring) seemed to be endorsing it. That's what I mean -- it came off more as a how-to guide than a cautionary tale.
Possibly. I admit I haven't seen it in decades. But I never found it implausible that people were thinking that way back then.
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Old June 6 2014, 05:14 PM   #865
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
But I never found it implausible that people were thinking that way back then.
That's not what I meant. Of course there were people back then who thought that way. It just seemed that this movie came down a little too strongly on one side of the debate. It engaged the debate, having Milland's wife stand up for civilization and decency and having Milland doubt some of his own actions, but it seemed a little eager to insist that going to the worst extremes was the necessary and correct reaction in that situation.

I don't know, maybe it was meant as a cautionary tale the same way as Twilight Zone's "The Shelter" and the like; maybe audiences were meant to be disturbed by the behavior of Milland's character, as I was. I guess in its own way it was trying to dramatize the ethical debate about pragmatic survival versus civilization. But it felt kind of heavy-handed and not as balanced as it could've been, since the wife's protests were always handily shot down by Milland's pragmatic arguments, and he just seemed to be presented as this wise authority figure who had all the answers, so that he came off as more of a mouthpiece for the filmmakers (or rather, director Milland himself lecturing the audience) than an ambiguous character. It didn't help that Ray Milland had such a domineering and cold persona as a rule. As I said, there were times he felt to me more like an abusive paranoid holding his family hostage than a heroic protagonist. Although I guess that's partly because husbands and fathers in the '50s were expected to be absolute authorities over their households. In that way and others, it plays differently to modern eyes than it probably did when it came out.
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Old June 7 2014, 08:17 PM   #866
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Bomb shelters often make good storm shelters, and during a riot, Millands character would have been justified. I get the point that was being made--rather in the same way the nut in the radio War of The Worlds was unstable.

I posted elsewhere that I didn't get why folks made fun of "duck and cover"--we saw what happens to flash-curious folks who stood in front of windows at Chelyabinsk.

Duck and cover works--it is what we use in tornado warnings
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Old June 7 2014, 08:31 PM   #867
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
It didn't help that Ray Milland had such a domineering and cold persona as a rule. As I said, there were times he felt to me more like an abusive paranoid holding his family hostage than a heroic protagonist. Although I guess that's partly because husbands and fathers in the '50s were expected to be absolute authorities over their households. In that way and others, it plays differently to modern eyes than it probably did when it came out.
Hmm. One wonders how it would have played if the Milland role had been taken by Andy Griffith, Robert Young, or even Jimmy Stewart, as opposed to Milland, who was indeed often cast as a villain. (Although it should be noted that Milland was capable of playing more personable, sympathetic parts . . . as in The Univited .)

And, yeah, I suspect that many fathers and husbands of that generation are going to come off as domineering and tyrannical to modern eyes. Darren Stevens, anyone?
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Old June 7 2014, 08:49 PM   #868
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

publiusr wrote: View Post
Bomb shelters often make good storm shelters, and during a riot, Millands character would have been justified. I get the point that was being made--rather in the same way the nut in the radio War of The Worlds was unstable.
There weren't any shelters here. They were out in the hills and small towns, driving toward a campsite, and trying to gather supplies. Milland's character's attitude was that they needed to retreat into isolation rather than help in the restoration of order.


I posted elsewhere that I didn't get why folks made fun of "duck and cover"--we saw what happens to flash-curious folks who stood in front of windows at Chelyabinsk.

Duck and cover works--it is what we use in tornado warnings
I thought we covered that. It wouldn't help if you were anywhere near ground zero, and the film is ludicrous because it implies that people would be completely safe afterward so long as they ducked and covered. Plus it lied in claiming that even a blanket or newspaper would protect against the bomb blast. It didn't even mention radiation or fallout. So even if the advice had some limited applicability, it was still presented very disingenuously if not outright deceptively. That's why it deserves ridicule.
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Old June 7 2014, 10:29 PM   #869
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

I just saw Sleeper, the 1973 Woody Allen movie where he plays a guy who wakes up in 2173 after having been cryogenically frozen. I enjoyed it. It was played for comedy rather than scifi and that comedy ranged from silly to mildly amusing to laugh-out-loud funny. The social commentary was pretty decent. We got to see an overly regulated world where people lost some self-sufficiency due to too much convenience and comfort, something that's happening now. There was also a sex machine that was part gag and part commentary on how passion and human interaction has been lost. Then there was the underground movement that was trying to fight the system. The whole movie was reminiscent of Demolition Man. It even had it's Sandra Bullock in the form of a character named Luna, who I thought was quite the looker. To my surprise, she was played by Diane Keaton. I've never seen her in her younger years. She also reminded me of someone who I couldn't place. Then I realized it was Natalie Zea. I thought this was some of her best acting. She played someone who fit right into this future culture quite well and then hammed it up pretty good when things went in that direction.
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Old June 7 2014, 11:34 PM   #870
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Re: TCM Genre movies schedule...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Does anyone know how many of Wise's films had overtures?
I don't know, but his other big '60s road show, The Sand Pebbles, has a very nice Jerry Goldsmith overture:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=uHKwg1uVOCk

Christopher wrote: View Post
As for the Duck and Cover film, we covered that. It wouldn't help if you were anywhere near ground zero, and the film is ludicrous because it implies that people would be completely safe afterward so long as they ducked and covered. Plus it lied in claiming that even a blanket or newspaper would protect against the bomb blast. It didn't even mention radiation or fallout. So even if the advice had some limited applicability, it was still presented very disingenuously if not outright deceptively. That's why it deserves ridicule.
Keep in mind that the film was made at a time of low-yield weapons and small nuclear arsenals, before the Soviets even had an intercontinental-range bomber. And also at an early point in the understanding of radiation's biological effects. People were still using X-ray machines in shoe stores in 1951, and US service members were being assembled in large numbers to witness nuclear tests, unprotected. Many of the points in the film were valid for people outside a 1.5-2 mile radius. The newspaper thing wasn't said to be protection against blast, but burns. Which is actually good advice, silly as it sounds, as flash burns come from thermal radiation (uv/visible/ir) and can be blocked by fairly thin material (at enough distance that the paper doesn't ignite, of course). Not to mention avoiding blindness. (As an aside: USAF bomber pilots in the '50s were equipped with a pirate-style eye patch, so they wouldn't go blind in both eyes as they flew past other nuclear explosions on their way to the target, and could finish the bomb run with one good eye!)

Parts of the film are absurd in tone, for sure. The Civil Defense man who puts the kid back on his bike like everything is OK: "Run along now, son! Say hello to you mother and tell her the atomic war has started!" Even so, the movie has had some reappraisals that don't dismiss it completely, including one in The Atlantic a few years ago:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/...d-cover/68776/
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