...The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power and the growth of corporate propaganda against democracy.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

StrategicAirCommand(1955) AND MANY MORE


Strategic Air Command is a 1955 American film starring James Stewart and June Allyson, and directed by Anthony Mann. Released by Paramount Pictures, it was the first of four films that depicted the role of the Strategic Air Command in the Cold War era.

The film was the second film released in Paramount's new wide-screen system, VistaVision, in color by Technicolor and Perspecta directional sound. It would also be Stewart and Mann's eighth and final collaboration and the third of three movies that paired Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson, the others being The Stratton Story and The Glenn Miller Story.

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James Stewart is a United States Air Force Reserve officer recalled to active duty to fly B-36 and B-47 nuclear bombers for the Strategic Air Command. Robert "Dutch" Holland, is a highly-paid, star professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals.[N 1] During spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, he is recalled to active duty for 21 months. At first, Dutch is a fish out of water, trying to perform duties in a service that has technologically left him far behind since the end of his World War II service as a B-29 pilot. When he reports for duty at Carswell AFB, a bomber base in Ft. Worth, Texas to qualify in the Convair B-36, he has to wear civilian garb, because his old uniforms are those of the old U.S. Army Air Forces, much to the displeasure of the irascible General Hawkes, the commander of SAC, played by Frank Lovejoy. The General Hawkes character is patterned after the actual commander of SAC at the time, General Curtis LeMay.

Dutch is given a staff job with the bombardment wing at Carswell that involves a lot of flying. He soon has a B-36 crew of his own, and he becomes enamored with both flying and the role of SAC in deterring war. He is joined by his wife Sally (June Allyson), who had not bargained on being an Air Force wife, and who struggles with his repeated absences and the dangers of flying. Even so, Sally tells Dutch that she is happy as long as they can be together, no matter what he decides to do with his life. Dutch is injured on duty when he is forced to crash land his B-36 bomber near Thule Air Base, Greenland. Nevertheless, he becomes a favorite of General Hawkes and is rewarded with a new assignment flying the new Boeing B-47 Stratojet at MacDill AFB in Tampa, across the bay from St. Petersburg where his old baseball team continues to conduct its spring training. Promoted to full colonel and made deputy commander of his B-47 wing, Dutch decides, to Sally's displeasure, to remain in the Air Force, rather than return to baseball at the end of his active duty obligation.

On a nonstop B-47 flight from MacDill to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, an arm injury from the earlier B-36 crash proves to be worse than he thought, and he is barely able to land his jet, which is low on fuel due to unexpected winds and storms. This injury not only bars him from further flying (he leaves the Air Force shortly after the incident), but also appears to threaten his baseball career, although General Hawkes suggests he would make an excellent team manager.


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The West Berlin office of the Circus, under administrator Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), has not been doing well. In fact, he is recalled to London shortly after the death of one of his operatives. Leamas is seemingly demoted to the banking section of the agency. In reality, a carefully staged transformation of Leamas has been arranged. Now depressed and disgruntled, he is quickly spotted by the East German Intelligence Service as a potential defector.

Leamas accepts overtures from German communists to reveal British secrets for payment, and he is interviewed in Holland about what he knows. When the process is later moved to East Berlin, the interviews become less cordial. It appears Leamas has information that will implicate a powerful East German intelligence officer named Mundt as a paid informant of the British, but the information is spotty and it frustrates his interrogator, "Herr Fiedler" (Oskar Werner). When Mundt arrives at the compound and discovers the investigation, he has both Leamas and Fiedler arrested. Mundt himself is eventually arrested.

An East German tribunal ensues to determine the guilt of Mundt, or possibly Fiedler, with Leamas appearing as a star witness. Mundt's attorney (George Voskovec) uncovers several discrepancies in Leamas' transformation into an informant. Leamas' credibility is further undermined when his English girlfriend, an unassuming and idealistic communist named Nan Perry (Claire Bloom), is brought into the hearings to confirm Leamas' character. As Leamas' charade unravels and he is forced to admit he is still working as a British agent, Fiedler is escorted from the room as a complicit dupe and Mundt's reputation is untarnished.

Leamas initially believes he has failed in his mission and he will soon be executed. But when Mundt releases him from his cell with an escape plan in tow, he learns that his mission has actually succeeded; Fiedler was the agent to be undermined and Mundt was indeed a British agent. Although this comes as a surprise to Leamas (for he has steadfastly insisted to Fielder that the Circus could not possibly have run an agent in East Germany without his, Leamas's, knowing about it), he isn't completely shocked by the revelation. As he and Perry sit in a car waiting to be escorted from East Germany, she berates him as being involved in murder: the execution of Fiedler who was guilty of nothing. Leamas, agitated by Perry's naiveté, tells her that her worldview is childish and people are murdered every day - on both sides - while she lives an insulated life: "What do you think spies are?" he asks. "They are a bunch of seedy squalid bastards like me, little drunkards, queers, henpecked husbands ..."

Leamas and Perry are soon ushered to the Berlin Wall and apparently permitted to leave. But Perry has learned too much about Mundt's true identity and is not trusted to keep it secret. She becomes a victim of the Cold War and is shot down as she tries to cross the wall. Leamas then looks down from the top of the wall at Perry, while agents from both sides urge him to return to the west. Instead he climbs back down the East German side of the wall and goes to Perry's lifeless body, but is then himself shot dead.

[edit] Cast

[edit] Production

The film closely follows the plot of the novel. One exception is that the name of the principal female character, "Liz Gold" in the novel, is changed to "Nan Perry," supposedly because the producers were worried about out-of-context quotes of Burton from the film being used in reference to his real-life wife, Elizabeth "Liz" Taylor. Two other significant differences are a) that there are no references to Liz Gold's/Nan Perry's Jewishness, which fact figures in the novel as both she and Fiedler are subject to antisemitic taunts, and b) the explanation of the film's/novel's title by Control's suggesting to George Smiley that Leamas' decision to join Gold/Perry in death represented his final wish to reenter the warmth of human love and companionship and thus "Come in from the Cold" of isolation and alienation that characterizes the life of the spy.

[edit] Reception

The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Richard Burton) and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen, Ted Marshall, Josie MacAvin). [1] Oskar Werner won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Fiedler. The film was awarded four BAFTA Awards, including Best British Film and Best British Actor (Burton). The screenwriters, Paul Dehn and Guy Trosper, received an Edgar Award for best movie screenplay.



The Hill is a 1965 film directed by Sidney Lumet, set in a British army prison in North Africa in World War II. It stars Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Ossie Davis, Ian Hendry, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear and Michael Redgrave.



In a British Army "glasshouse" (military detention camp) in the Libyan Desert, prisoners convicted of service offences such as insubordination, being drunk whilst on duty, going AWOL or petty theft etc. are subjected to repetitive drill in the blazing desert heat.

The arrival of five new prisoners slowly leads to a clash with the camp authorities. One new NCO guard who has also just arrived employs excessive punishments, which include forcing the five newcomers to repeatedly climb a man-made hill in the centre of the camp. When one dies, a power struggle erupts between the camp's Medical Officer (Michael Redgrave), the Regimental Sergeant Major Wilson (Harry Andrews), and a pair of brutal Staff Sergeants, Harris (Ian Bannen) and Williams (Ian Hendry), as they attempt to shift blame.

Roberts (Sean Connery) is a former Squadron Sergeant Major from the Royal Tank Regiment, convicted of assaulting his Commanding Officer - the reasons for which he explains to his fellow inmates. The RSM is a career soldier who sees his task as breaking down failed men, then building them back up again, in his words, "into men!"

Staff Sergeant Williams is new to the prison, and his ambition is matched only by his cruel treatment of the prisoners; he seeks to use their suffering as means for promotion. "And what are you supposed to be," Roberts asks him when he is accused of cowardice in battle, "a brave man in a permanent base job?" The RSM seems to agree; in another scene, he slyly mentions the fact that the Germans were bombing the UK (including the civilian prison Williams worked at) just as Williams was volunteering for prison duty in Africa.

Staff Sergeant Harris is the conscience of the prison who sympathizes with the men, too closely, according to the RSM. The officers of the piece, both the CO (Norman Bird) and the Medical Officer, take their duties casually and, as Roberts points out, "everyone is doing time here, even the screws."


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Oh! What A Lovely War summarizes and comments on the story of World War I using popular songs of the time, many of which were parodies of older popular songs.

The film uses a variety of symbolic settings to portray vast summations of historical and societal forces at work. Brighton's West Pier, as a location, represents the First World War, with the British public entering at the turnstiles, and General Haig selling tickets. The protagonists are named as the Smith family; which serve as an archetypal British family of the time. The film follows the young Smith men through their experiences in the trenches: Jack (Paul Shelley), Freddy (Malcolm McFee), Harry (Colin Farrell, not to be confused with the Irish actor of the same name), and George (Maurice Roëves).

The opening sequence is set in a fantasy location which resembles a pierhead pavilion. The diplomatic manoeuvrings, galas, and events involving aristocratic classes set against this location throughout the film, far from the trenches. After various diplomats and aristocrats walk over a huge map of Europe, an unnamed photographer takes a picture of the upper class. After handing two red poppies to the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg he takes their picture, 'assassinating' them as the flash goes off.

The start of the war in 1914 is shown as a parade of optimism. A military band music rouses citizens lounging by the beach to rally round it and follow it - some even literally boarding a bandwagon. They are led to the idea of war, illustrated on film as a cheerful seaside carnival on Brighton West Pier. The first Battle of Mons is similarly cheerfully depicted yet more realistic in portrayal. Both scenes are flooded in pleasant sunshine. When the casualties start to mount, a shocked theatre audience is rallied by singing "Are We Downhearted? No!"

The curtains on the stage lift to reveal a chorus line dressed in frilled yellow dresses, who recruit a volunteer army. They appeal to the patriotism of the crowd with "We don't want to lose you, but we think you ought to go". A music hall star (Maggie Smith) then enters a lone spotlight as the curtain is drawn, and lures the roused but still doubtful young men in the audience into "taking the King's Shilling" by singing a song about how every day she 'walks out' with different men in uniform, and that "On Saturday I'm willing, if you'll only take the shilling, to make a man of any one of you." The young men take to the stage and are quickly moved offstage and into military life, and the initially-alluring music hall singer is depicted on close-up as a coarse, over-made-up harridan.

The red poppy crops up again as a symbol of impending death, often being handed to a soldier about to be sent to die. These scenes are juxtaposed with the pavilion, now housing the top military brass. There is a scoreboard (a dominant motif in the original theatre production) showing the loss of life and 'yards gained'.

Outside, the figure of Sylvia Pankhurst (Vanessa Redgrave) is shown addressing a crowd on the futility of war, but is met with catcalls from the audience, whom she upbraids for believing everything they read in the newspapers. She is finally jeered off her podium by the hostile crowd.

1915 is depicted as darkly contrasting in tone. Many shots of a parade of wounded men illustrate an endless stream of grim, hopeless faces. Black humour among these soldiers has now replaced the enthusiasm of the early days. "There's A Long, Long Trail A-Winding" captures the new mood of despair, depicting soldiers filing along in torrential rain in miserable conditions. Red poppies provide the only bright colour in these scenes. In a scene of British soldiers drinking in an estaminet, a chanteuse (Pia Colombo) leads them in a jolly chorus of "The Moon Shines Bright On Charlie Chaplin", a reworking of an American song then shifts the mood back to darker tone by singing a soft and sombre version of "Adieu la vie".

An interfaith service is held in a ruined abbey. A priest tells the gathered masses of soldiers that each religion has endorsed the war by way of allowing soldiers to eat pork if Jewish, meat on Fridays if Catholic, and work through the sabbath if in service of the war for all religions. He also mentions the Dalai Lama has blessed the war effort.

1916 passes and the film's tone darkens again. The songs contain contrasting tones of wistfulness, stoicism, and resignation; including "The Bells Of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling", "If The Sergeant Steals Your Rum, Never Mind" and "Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire". The wounded are laid out in ranks at the field station, a stark contrast to the healthy rows of young men who entered the War. Harry Smith's silently-suffering face is often lingered upon by the camera.

The Americans arrive, but are shown only in the 'disconnected reality' of the pavilion , interrupting the deliberations of the British generals by singing "Over There" with the changed final line: "And we won't come back - we'll be buried over there!" The resolute-looking American captain seizes the map from an astonished Haig.

Jack notices with disgust that after three years of this nightmare, he is literally back where he started, fighting at Mons. As the Armistice is sounding, Jack is the last one to die. There is a splash of red which at first glance appears to be blood, but which turns out to be yet another poppy out of focus in the foreground. The film closes with a long slow pan out that ends in an aerial view of soldiers' graves, dizzying in their geometry and scale, as the voices of the dead sing "We'll Never Tell Them" (a parody of the Jerome Kern song "They Didn't Believe Me").

Oh! What a Lovely War is a musical film based on the stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War! originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in December 1961, and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop created in 1963, which was itself inspired by "The Donkeys," Alan Clark's 1961 attack on Great War generalship. The title is derived from the music hall song Oh! It's a Lovely War, which is one of the major numbers in the productions. Its American premiere was at the University of California, Irvine, directed by Clayton Garrison, in 1966. In 1969 Richard Attenborough directed a cinematic adaptation of the musical. His cast included Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud, John Mills, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Jack Hawkins, Corin Redgrave, Michael Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Maggie Smith, Ian Holm, Paul Shelley, Malcolm McFee, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Nanette Newman, Edward Fox, Susannah York, John Clements, Phyllis Calvert and Maurice Roëves. The film has been released on DVD.

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