Sixties Political Films: An Annotated Bibliography
Eric Roberts and Lauren Rusk
This text, made available by the Sixties Project, is copyright (c) 1993 by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. This text may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. This text may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.
MARCHING FOR FREEDOM, NGLTF, 1993, 1:18. On April 24, 1993, more than 700,000 people marched in Washington to demand justice for lesbians and gay men in the United States. Marching for Freedom is a documentary of the march that captures the spirit and urgency of the demonstration in a way that few other films have ever managed to do.
MARSHAL BLUCHER: A PORTRAIT AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF AN EPOCH, Vladimir Eisner, The Glasnost Film Festival, 1988, 0:50. "This film tries to unlock the riddle of the dramatic 1930s in the Soviet Union through the biography of one hero. Marshal Vasily Blucher was one of the best Red Army commanders. Yet, in 1938 he was declared an `enemy of the people' and perished in Stalin's torture chambers. Rare archival footage illustrates the excesses of the Stalin era."
MISSING, Costa-Gavras, Universal Studios, 1982, 2:02. Based on the true story of the disappearance of American writer Charles Horman after the Pinochet coup in Chile, Missing focuses on the political transformation of Charles's father Ed Horman, an New York businessman who arrives in Chile to try to find his son. Initially trusting his advice from the U.S. embassy, Ed Horman comes to recognize the complicity of the United States in the coup. Strong performances by Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon.
MODERN TIMES, Charlie Chaplin, 1936, 1:27. One of Chaplin's most famous films, Modern Times finds Chaplin as an assembly-line worker who falls in love with a young girl (Paulette Goddard) made homeless by the Depression.
MY HOME, MY PRISON, Susana Blaustein Munoz and Erica Marcus, 1992, 1:03. My Home, My Prison is based on the autobiography with the same title by Palestinian journalist Raymonda Hawa Tawil, in which she describes her struggle to secure peace and a homeland for both Palestinians and Israelis. The film also highlights the struggle for women's rights in a male-dominated culture.
HOLLY NEAR: SINGING FOR OUR LIVES, Ron Gould, Redwood Cultural Work, 0:30. Using a medley of concert footage, interviews, and readings from her autobiography, this film paints a moving portrait of Holly Near's life and work.
NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS, Taviana Brothers, 1982, 1:46. Set in Italy in the last days of World War II, the film builds on the memories of the director as a young girl, creating what the Facets film catalog calls "a beautiful tapestry of fact, myth, and wartime memory that moves effortlessly in a universal story of human joy and sadness under duress." Winner of the overall prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982.
1968: AMERICA IS HARD TO SEE, Emile de Antonio, 1968, 1:28. A film that presents what the Facets catalog describes as "a probing analysis of the crucial, kaleidoscopic year 1968, revealing a nation divided: between war and peace, young and old, black and white.
THE OFFICIAL STORY, Luis Puenzo, 1985, 1:52. During the 1970s, the junta that ruled Argentina carried out a brutal campaign resulting in the kidnapping and murder of thousands of desaparecidos -- the ones who have disappeared. The Official Story tells the story of a family caught up in the legacy of terror, as a woman uncovers the history of her adopted daughter. Based on a true story, this film has received widespread critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1986.
OLIVER NORTH: FIGHT FOR FREEDOM, American Freedom Coalition, 1987. Issued by right-wing defenders of Oliver North, this film lets us all know how our fine, upstanding American hero was just trying to make the world safe for democracy. A friend was given this tape by his mother and then passed it on to me.
ONE FINE DAY, Kay Weaver, Ishtar Films, 1985. Billed as "a celebration of the American woman from the 18th century to the present," this short "video anthem" provides quick glimpses of the many women in our history who are too often hidden.
PART OF THE USA, GVI Films, 1987. Documentary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, October 11, 1987. Includes the unfolding of the commemorative quilt, the rallies at the Supreme Court and the Mall, and the march itself.
RACE AND GENDER IN SCIENCE, Student Pugwash, 1989. This video is a transcript of the session on "Race and Gender in Science" presented at the Student Pugwash conference in Boulder, Colorado, in June 1989. The panelists were Shirley Malcom of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Caroline Whitbeck, Professor of Philosophy at MIT; and Nicholas Steneck, Director of the Collegiate Institute for Values and Science, University of Michigan.
RAISIN IN THE SUN, Daniel Petrie, 1961, 2:08. Starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, this film is an adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play about a black family which has just received an insurance settlement of $10,000 and how that money affects the family.
RELIABILITY AND RISK: COMPUTERS AND NUCLEAR WAR, CPSR, 1986, 0:34. This is a videotape version of the multi-image presentation prepared by the Boston chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. It details the risks associated with computer control of military systems and includes a section on the Star Wars system. Reliability and Risk was awarded a Gold Medal by the New England Association for Multi-Image in 1986.
ROGER AND ME, Michael Moore, 1990, 1:30. At one level, Roger and Me is a documentary about the economic collapse of Flint, Michigan, after General Motors closed the auto plants. At another, it is an extremely funny film about director Michael Moore's attempts to find General Motors chairman Roger Smith. The great strength of this film is that its comedy never comes at the expense of those most affected by the tragedy of Flint; instead the humor somehow seems to make the suffering all the more real by giving it a new, more human dimension.
ROMERO, John Duigan, 1989, 1:45. Raul Julia gives a fantastic performance as Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 by representatives of the right-wing government that still holds power in El Salvador.
THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!, Norman Jewison, 1965, 2:07. Alan Arkin leads an excellent cast as he takes the role of a Soviet submarine who runs aground off Nantucket in this delightful comedy about Cold War fear. It's a bit on the silly side, but it's also one of the first films after the McCarthy era to portray Soviets as human beings.
SALT OF THE EARTH, Herbert Biberman, 1954, 1:34. "Salt of the Earth portrays the true events of a bitter strike of Chicanos in the zinc mines of New Mexico. When an injunction is issued against the workers, the wives take up the battle with a fury, leaving the husbands to care for home and children. Shot on location in 1953 by blacklisted filmmakers, Salt of the Earth was completed in the face of vigilante attacks, its star's deportation to Mexico, and a concerted denial of technical facilities. Boycotted by almost every theater in America, the film won major awards in Europe, and is now regarded as a classic." [from the Voyager Press promotional material]
SDI: IS THE SOFTWARE FEASIBLE?, Congressional Research Service, 1986. Transcript of a debate for congressional staffers between Eastport Chairman Danny Cohen and David Redell of the Palo Alto chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.
and Jane Wagner, 1992, 2:00. The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe is an adaptation of Lily Tomlin's highly acclaimed Broadway show from 1986. The movie version captures all the fast-paced action of Jane Wagner's script while making it a little easier to keep track of the transitions between Tomlin's various endearing characters.
THE SECRET GOVERNMENT: THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS, Bill Moyers, PBS, 1987, 1:30. In this PBS essay, Bill Moyers traces the history of covert U.S. operations since World War II and uses that history to show that the Iran-contra scandal is only the latest example of how "clandestine military operations, the subversion of other governments, and dirty tricks have become a permanent feature of national policy, carried out with no accountability to democratic institutions or democratic values." The historical section begins by documenting the recruitment of Nazi war criminals by the United States to work as agents against the Soviets, and continues with the CIA involvement in Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, Nicaragua, and here in the United States. The program also includes some fascinating intercutting of the Watergate investigation with the Iran-contra hearings that emphasize how little concern was felt for the institutions of democracy in each case.
SEEING RED, James Klein and Julia Reichert, 1983. Seeing Red takes a retrospective look at the American Communist Party from its rapid growth in the 1930s into the McCarthy period. The film integrates archival material with interviews of fifteen people who were active in the Party during that time. Seeing Red was nominated for the "Best Documentary" Academy Award in 1983.
SEX AND JUSTICE: THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ANITA HILL/CLARENCE THOMAS HEARINGS, Julian Schlossberg, 1993. This documentary selects the most vivid portions of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings prior to the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Justice. The film is narrated by Gloria Steinem.
SHIRLEY VALENTINE, Lewis Gilbert, 1989, 1:48. This film, based on a highly-acclaimed Broadway one-woman show, introduces us to Shirley Valentine -- a middle-aged British housewife who sets out on an adventure to make real her dreams and establish her independence. Pauline Collins is brilliant in the title role.
SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR HIGHLIGHTS I, 1968-70, 1:52. From February 1967 until they were fired in April 1969, Tom and Dick Smothers hosted a variety show on CBS television -- a program that gave a prime-time voice to the many social and cultural movements of what were some pretty exciting years. In 1993, the E! television network rebroadcast the original 70 episodes, plus the final episode that never aired. We assembled a two-volume collection of the highlights from the show. Volume I highlights the musical aspects of the show and features performances by The Association; Joan Baez; Harry Belafonte; The Byrds; Judy Collins; Donovan; Jefferson Airplane; Mama Cass; Jim Nabors; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Pete Seeger; Ravi Shankar; Simon and Garfunkle; The Temptations; The Turtles; and Mason Williams. The show also includes comedy sketches from the Smothers Brothers; Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy; Pat Paulsen; and Leigh French.
SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR HIGHLIGHTS II, 1968-70, 2:00. This tape includes more of the highlights of the Smothers Brothers show. Along with more music and comedy, Volume II highlights the Pat Paulsen presidential campaign and the censorship battles that eventually forced the program off the air.
SONG OF FREEDOM, England, 1936, 1:10. Described in the Facets catalog as "one of Paul Robeson's great roles as a dockhand who returns to Africa to discover his roots. Contains Robeson singing many great songs." This film, however, has some serious political problems and seems fairly wedded to the idea that Africa will be saved only by being westernized.
THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, Granada Video, 1983. A six-hour compilation of film footage and documentary material on the Spanish Civil War including historical background from 1931-36, the war itself, and the aftermath.
Responsibility, 1986. Interviews leading supporters and critics of the Star Wars program to assess the feasibility and desirability of the program.