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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.



THE TAILOR, Vladislav Mirzoyan, The Glasnost Film Festival, 1988, 0:50. "The Tailor is a sobering look at the spiritual void and disillusionment of the current generation of middle-aged adults. They entered life with faith in their destiny and in love. But by the dawn of the Brezhnev years, they were aged before their time, having lost the opportunity for creative self-realization."

TAILSPIN: BEHIND THE KOREAN AIRLINER TRAGEDY, David Darlow, HBO, 1989. Based on the story of the 1983 downing of Korean Airline flight 007, Tailspin illustrates the story from inside the Washington military and political establishment, where fact runs up against politics and propaganda. An exciting adventure story, but also an excellent look at the conflicts one faces in government between telling the truth and telling your superiors what they want to hear.

THE TALK OF THE TOWN, George Stevens, 1942, 1:59. Of the many Hollywood comedies from the 1930s and early 1940s that manage to poke some fun at capitalism while supporting the working class, The Talk of the Town is one of the best. Ronald Colman plays an ivory-tower law professor, who has rented a country house so that he will have peace in which to write. Cary Grant is Leopold Dilg, a factory worker and soapbox radical who stumbles into the same house while fleeing a trumped-up murder rap. With the delightfully funny Jean Arthur in the middle -- it's her house and she's Dilg's old schoolmate -- the two men must confront their different perspectives on politics and power.

TELL ME A RIDDLE, Lee Grant, 1980, 1:34. Based on the Tillie Olsen story of the same name, Tell Me a Riddle is the story of a dying woman reliving the memories of her life.

THELMA AND LOUISE, Ridley Scott, 1991, 2:10. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis star in this feminist updating of the classic buddy movie genre. Somehow, this movie managed to generate an enormous level of controversy, mostly from men who seemed unable to handle the portrayal of women in that role. Callie Khouri won an Oscar for the story.

THIS IS HOW WE LIVE, Vladimir Oseledchik, The Glasnost Film Festival, 1987, 0:30. "A shocking look at the alienation of many Soviet young people. The ugliest of them are homegrown fascists who happily introduce us to their program for reconstructing society through sterilization. One self-styled `punk' says: `They turn us into robots. We can't think like we want.'"

THIS IS MY LIFE, Nora Ephron, Fox, 1992, 1:34. This Is My Life is a delightful comedy written and directed by Nora Ephron. In it, Julie Kavner (who also supplies the voice of Marge Simpson) plays a department store salesclerk from New York as she struggles to succeed as a stand-up comic, changing her life along with the lives of her two daughters. Putting women center stage and focusing on how they interact, the film is a welcome contrast to the male-oriented Hollywood standard.

THROUGH THE WIRE, Nina Rosenblum, 1990. A documentary exposing the use of the Federal prison system against political prisoners in the United States. The film examines the lives and situation of three women who were held in the control unit of the Female High Security Unit in Lexington, KY. Included in the PBS P.O.V. series in 1990.

THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, Robert Epstein and Richard Schiechen, 1984, 1:27. The Times of Harvey Milk vividly illustrates the strength of the gay community in San Francisco from the early political struggles, through the successful defeat of the Briggs initiative, and on through the tragedy of the assassination. Winner of the 1984 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

TORCH SONG TRILOGY, Paul Bogart, 1989. A fine film adaptation of the stage play with excellent performances by Harvey Fierstein, Anne Bancroft, and Matthew Broderick.

TRIAL OF THE AVCO PLOUGHSHARES, Julie Gustafson and John Reilly, 1987. Records the trial of seven activists who were charged with trespass and malicious damage to computer systems and office equipment at a nuclear-weapons manufacturer in Massachusetts.

TURNING TECHNOLOGY AROUND, Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto, 1988. A discussion of the implications for labor of technological change.

TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY, Granada, 1987. Retrospective honoring the 20th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper" album.



UNCOMMON WOMEN AND OTHERS, Steve Robman and Merrily Mossman, 1978. A television adaptation of Wendy Wasserstein's play about life in a women's college. Includes an early performance by Meryl Streep.

UNDERGROUND, Emile de Antonio and Mary Lampson, 1974, 1:28. A history of the Weather Underground.



VIETNAM EXPERIENCE, Daniel Keller and Country Joe McDonald, 1987. The horror of the war in Vietnam packaged into a "music video" with Country Joe's songs, including, of course: "And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?"

VIETNAM: IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG, Emile de Antonio, 1968, 1:43. Widely considered to be the best documentary film on the Vietnam War ever produced.

VIETNAM: THE WAR AT HOME, Glenn Silber and Barry Alexander Brown, 1976. Concentrates on student opposition to the Vietnam War at the University of Wisconsin, this film tells a "compelling story of how the anti-war movement grew as a genuine people's revolt and documents how American foreign policy and American values at home were challenged and changed."



THE WAR GAME, Peter Watkins, 1965, 0:46. An extremely hard-hitting BBC documentary about the possibility of nuclear war in Great Britain. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.

THE WAR IN EL CEDRO, Don North, Northstar, 1987. This film follows ten veterans to Nicaragua where they are forced to reflect on their own service with the U.S. military.

WARGAMES, John Badham, 1983, 1:54. A high school computer whiz accidentally taps into the NORAD computers and initiates a war game -- a game that the computer is playing for real. The movie is a fine thriller with considerable cleverness and charm. Rather surprisingly, much of the early part of the film (such as gaining access to NORAD through a "back door" left by the original designer) is quite believable from the computing point of view.

WASN'T THAT A TIME, Jim Brown, 1981. Wasn't That A Time tells the story of the Weavers (Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman) from their early years in New York, through the blacklisting of the McCarthy era, to their 1980 reunion concert at Carnegie Hall. The film is a marvelous tribute to the triumph of the spirit over bad times, and is one of the most upbeat and joyful political films I have ever seen.

WELLSTONE FOR SENATE, Northwoods Advertising, 1990, 0:07. This short series contains some of the most entertaining political commercials of all time, which were part of a successful campaign by progressive Carleton College professor Paul Wellstone to unseat Rudy Boschwitz as U.S. Senator from Minnesota. The series includes a two-minute send-up of the film Roger and Me, in which Wellstone takes a video camera and goes looking for his opponent.

WINTER SOLDIER, Winterfilm Collective and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, 1972, 1:50. In 1971, over 100 Vietnam veterans testified about their participation in or knowledge of war crimes in Southeast Asia. This event, known as "The Winter Soldier Investigation: An Inquiry into American War Crimes," was published in the Congressional Record (April 5-6, 1971). The testimony was also filmed by members of the Winterfilm collective and released as a 16mm film. Called Winter Soldier, the film opened in January 1972 at the "New American Filmmaker's Series" at the Whitney Museum in New York. It was critically acclaimed, but by 1973 the film generally disappeared, until it was released on video in 1992. [from the press release announcing the film]

WITNESS TO WAR, Deborah Shaffer, 1985. "This film takes you behind rebel lines in El Salvador with one of the only Americans to work there: Dr. Charlie Clements. It also takes you behind lines that are rarely seen, the lines of conscience which turned a soldier trained for war into a medical doctor trained to heal. This dramatic journey of conscience is set against the background of American involvement in Vietnam through rare archival footage of the bombing of Southeast Asia. At the same time, the film powerfully documents the difficulties of life in the rebel-controlled zones of Guazapa where Clements practiced for over a year -- a region which is bombed almost daily by the same planes he had flown in Vietnam." [from the AFSC Audiovisual Library catalog]

WOMEN: FOR AMERICA, FOR THE WORLD, Vivienne Verdon-Roe, 1986, 0:28. Twenty-two prominent American women challenge the economic and political realities of the arms race. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary for 1986.

THE WOOD GOBLIN: CONFESSIONS OF AN OLD MAN, Boris Kustov, The Glasnost Film Festival, 1987, 0:19. "For 15 years he has lived alone in the woods in a house he built himself. He commanded a tank company during World War II, and later was a local Communist Party chief. But he was fired from his position after a smear campaign. So he `joined the party of the green world,' which he now defends agains woodcutters.

WOODSTOCK, Michael Wadleigh, 1970, 3:08. The story of the concert. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 1970.

WOODY GUTHRIE: HARD TRAVELIN', Jim Brown, 1984, 1:14. A tribute to Woody Guthrie by the director of Wasn't that a Time.

WORD IS OUT, Peter and Nancy Adair, Mariposa Film Collective, 1978. Word Is Out is one of the first films to provide a positive vision of the gay experience in America. Subtitled "Stories of Some of Our Lives," the material for the film is drawn from interviews with 26 gay men and women across the United States.

WORKING FOR BIG BROTHER, Cordelia Stone, 1990, 0:25. This short documentary, produced for local broadcast as part of the By the Year 2000 series by KCET in Los Angeles, examines the growing use of electronic monitoring in the workplace.

WRATH OF GRAPES, United Farm Workers, 1985. A short documentary that exposes the health risks of pesticides, both to the consumer and to the farmworkers, most of whom have lost health care and other union-won protections over the last few years.



YELLOW SUBMARINE, George Dunning, 1968, 1:25. The Beatles, posing as Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, rid Pepperland of the Blue Meanies.



ZABRISKIE POINT, Antonioni, 1970, 1:52. Antonioni's film of the late 1960s is widely considered to be an anti-establishment classic for reasons I find rather elusive.

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