Hollywood Reporter: A-bomb Drill, Stinking Rose Get Their Due

The Hollywood Reporter's Brooks Boliek reports on the just released 2004 list of inductees into the Library of Congress's National Film Registry.

"Duck and Cover" (1951) might be the most famous film the government ever made, as millions of schoolchildren learned the untested maneuver with the help of an animated civil defense employee named Bert the Turtle. The latter urged children: "Remember what to do, friends. Now tell me out loud. What are you supposed to do when you see the flash?"

"It's a public process," said Gregory Lukow, who runs the film preservation program for the Library of Congress. "It was the second-biggest vote-getter from the public this year."

"While Lukow diplomatically refused to say what the most popular film was among the public, he said the choice of "Duck and Cover" was the result of a campaign by Conelrad, an organization and Web site dedicated to preserving Cold War culture."

Conelrad founders Ken Sitz, Bill Geerhart and Curtis Samson were musing about the Cold War culture and decided to create the Conelrad Web site, which mounted a campaign to get "Duck and Cover" into the film registry.

"It's just one of those things that people don't think about much," Sitz said. "We've never asked: 'Where did it come from? Who made this stuff?' We never found anybody that had written about it, so we just started researching it."

"According to Conelrad, the making of "Duck and Cover" has all the ingredients of a movie in which the desire to make a quick buck collides with the government's attempts to calm the nation. The White House publicly mounted a search for filmmakers to help out with civil defense publicity."

"James M. Franey, then-president of United World Films Inc. and owner of Castle Films, wasted no time in contacting Leo Langlois, vp at Archer Productions Inc., a powerhouse ad agency in New York, about doing the job, according to an interview with Langlois on Conelrad."

"(Franey) suggested I look into it, that it might be something I'd be interested (in), and you know, did a little job on me, a little sales job on me," Langlois told Conelrad."

"The film is one of hundreds churned out in the name of civil defense, but it's the best example of the films made during "the golden age of homeland security," Sitz said."

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