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The Commies are Coming, the Commies are Coming (1962).

February 22, 2008

The Scoop:
This video release is actually two propaganda shorts from the early ’60s packaged together to show red-baiting at its paranoid height.

A school civics lesson that made good, the first short is “Red Nightmare,” which was made as an educational film and distributed to schools (although it also had at least one primetime television showing.) It featuring Joe Friday himself, Jack Webb, narrating the story of an everyday, red-blooded, all-American father who wakes up one day to find the country overrun by Communists who take away all his rights. Boy howdy, does he learn his lesson quick not to take his freedoms for granted. With its extensive cast (most of whom went on to TV stardom in one form or another) and respectable production values, its obvious this was a love child of Jack Warner’s, whose studio produced it for the Defense Department.

The second short is a government training film with the catchy title “Army Information Film No. 7: Code of Conduct – To Resist.” It was intended for soldiers, with Webb explaining exactly what to do if captured by the enemy.

If you only ever watch one piece of Cold War propaganda, make this the one. It is anti-Communist paranoia in its purest form, soaring to operatic heights.

Best Line:
There are so many. Most of the Communist dialogue is along the lines of this chestnut: “One day we will destroy their bourgeois capitalist freedoms.”

Side Note:
The city square set on the Warner’s backlot where much of “Red Nightmare” was shot was later used for both “Bye, Bye Birdie” (1963) and “Back to the Future” (1985).

Companion Viewing:
“The Atomic Cafe” (1982).

“Red Nightmare” fan site.

Take a Look:
Here’s “Red Nightmare” in its entirety:

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