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Bill Geerhart recommends...

CONELRAD TOP FIVE RECOMMENDED...
BILL GEERHART: Top Five Books
CURTIS SAMSON: Top Five Films
KEN SITZ: Top Five Films


RELATED LINKS
CONELRAD 100: Atomic Films
DAY THE WORLD ENDED
INVASION USA
PANIC IN YEAR ZERO
Invasion USA - 1952

BILL GEERHART: Top Five Recommended Atomic Films

FIVE [1951]
93 min. [B&W]
Written and Directed By Arch Oboler
Starring: William Phipps; Susan Douglas; James Anderson; Charles Lampkin; Earl Lee.


This haunting story of the last five people on earth has the distinction of being the first overtly "Atomic" end-of-the-world movie. There are many quietly disturbing scenes in this film including one set in a decimated city in which Civil Defense sirens continue to wail. "Five" is a seminal work in the cannon of Atomic Film, one that establishes many templates for future movies in the genre. (Out of print, but available used on VHS).




INVASION USA [1952]
74 min. [B& W]
Written by Robert Smith
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Starring: Gerald Mohr; Peggie Castle; Dan O'Herlihy; Robert Bice


The unintentionally hilarious "Invasion U.S.A." is that rare film that actually improves with every viewing. B-movie actor Gerald Mohr carries the movie as suave civilian hero Vince Potter who drops lines like, "Last time I met a girl I really liked, they bombed Pearl Harbor." The serious student of the Red Scare/Atomic genre MUST include "Invasion" in their permanent collection. Trivia Note: The two actresses who portrayed Lois Lane on TV's Superman series (Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill) have bit speaking parts. Available now in a new Synapse "Special Atomic Edition" DVD co-produced by CONELRAD).




DAY THE WORLD ENDED [1956]
79 min. [B&W]
Written by Lou Rusoff
Directed by Roger Corman
Starring: Paul Birch; Touch (Mike) Connors; Richard Denning; Lori Nelson and Adele Jergens


Think FIVE, but add a radioactive monster and a stripper and you pretty much have DAY THE WORLD ENDED in a nutshell. The pressbook for this motion picture asserts that radioactive mutations of the sort depicted in DAY THE WORLD ENDED "could happen." It is this kind of shamelessness that made Roger Corman a legend and his films so memorably and entertainingly bad. (Available on VHS).




PANIC IN YEAR ZERO [1962]
95 min. [B&W]
Written by John Morton and Jay Simms
Directed by Ray Milland
Starring: Ray Milland, Jean Hagen, Frankie Avalon, Mary Mitchel and Dick Bakalyan as Carl


A fast paced thriller that depicts society's breakdown through the eyes of one family following an atomic attack on the U.S. Ray Milland (who also directed) is the patriarch of the Baldwin family and Frankie Avalon is his unlikely son. PANIC is one of the most entertaining films in Atomic Film history. (Out of print, but available used on VHS and import laser disk - widescreen)




RED NIGHTMARE [1962]
25 min. [B&W]
Written by Vincent Fotre
Directed by George Waggner
Starring: Jack Kelly; Jeanne Cooper; Peter Brown; Pat Woodell; Andrew Duggan
Narrator: Jack Webb


Though not explicitly an "Atomic" film, RED NIGHTMARE is a short subject, government scare production that makes an excellent double feature with the Hollywood manufactured INVASION USA (see above). Both films are hysterically over-the-top and paranoid with the chief difference between them being RED NIGHTMARE depicts what life would be like for Complacent American Jerry Donovan after he wakes up in a totalitarian state. Favorite Scene: Jerry's teenage daughter - in paramilitary dress - announces that she leaving home to go work on a collective farm. As she exits she declares she has decided to go to the farm in order to free herself of the "lingering bourgeois influences of family life." Trivia Note: Look for a young Robert Conrad as a factory worker. Finally available in a complete version in a clean print as an extra feature on the INVASION USA "Special Atomic Edition" DVD




HONORABLE MENTION
IMAGE OF AN ASSASINATION: A New Look at the Zapruder Film [1998]
88 min. [Color and B & W]
MPI Home Video

The ultimate Cold War Home Movie (the infamous 26-second Zapruder film of JFK's assassination) is preserved and enhanced for the ages on this amazing DVD. In addition to the extreme close-up and extra-wide (with sprockets visible) versions of the film, there is a fascinating contemporaneous Dallas local news interview of Abraham Zapruder (mere minutes after the assassination). While some critics have derided this re-issue as a ghoulish souvenir (which it may very well be), it is one of the few documentaries that takes full advantage of that marvel of modern home entertainment, the DVD player.




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