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The "Citizen Kane" of Civil Defense
June 19, 2011 6:29 PM   Subscribe

In an effort to preserve the rich story behind this landmark film, CONELRAD has spent the last two years thoroughly researching DUCK AND COVER's production history as well as its initial public reception in 1952. Interviews were conducted with living participants involved in the making of the film as well as surviving family members of those key players who had passed away. In the course of our research, CONELRAD also uncovered a wealth of archival material that leaves no doubt that a tremendous amount of thought went into the making of this nine minute motion picture that has been the subject of so much dismissive ridicule over the years. (More CONELRAD goodness previously)
posted by Trurl (12 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bill Geerhart is wonderful. His exhaustive research nearly equals his sheer love of the subject. Thanks for posting.
posted by mykescipark at 6:52 PM on June 19, 2011


Aren't we supposed to laugh derisively about surviving a nuclear attack because the policy shifted to mutually assured destruction (MAD)? We had to believe that we would not survive to make that policy work.

So was the "put your head between your legs...and kiss your ass goodbye" joke just essential to the new public policy, and not a sudden awakening of an enlightened people?
posted by brewsterkahle at 7:50 PM on June 19, 2011


Aren't we supposed to laugh derisively about surviving a nuclear attack because the policy shifted to mutually assured destruction (MAD)?

In 1952 I don't think MAD had really taken hold.
posted by pompomtom at 8:12 PM on June 19, 2011


Thanks for this post, Trurl.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:14 PM on June 19, 2011


In 1952 I don't think MAD had really taken hold.

As late as 1982, Reagan had plans to evacuate 2.8 million people from DC.
posted by Trurl at 8:16 PM on June 19, 2011


He thought he had that many friends.
posted by pompomtom at 8:23 PM on June 19, 2011


There were CD plans to evacuate most cities and relocate to a number of pre-planned points. Civil Defense even planned to open both sides of major roads and highways to exiting traffic. And obviously that still wouldn't be enough for most cities to evacuate in time.

Didn't really matter because the Soviets just retargeted some missiles or warheads to land on the evacuation sites. These were publicly known response plans, so it wasn't like they were top secret or anything.
posted by loquacious at 9:49 PM on June 19, 2011


When I visited the US for the first time, back in 1990, one of the things that caught my eye, even if they had become pretty much invisible to the natives, were the Civil Defense signs indicating the nuclear shelters.

You see, in good ol' Europe, except perhaps in Switzerland, nuclear shelters were (and, of course, still are) pretty much inexistent. This could be considered an outrageous lack of concern by the authorities, except that, if the push had come to shove, what warning time would we have had, twenty seconds? Pretty obviously, building nuclear shelters had therefore been considered a ridiculous waste of public money, even if nobody really wanted to attract any attention towards the matter. There was a rather good episode of "Yes, Minister" on the subject...
posted by Skeptic at 7:50 AM on June 20, 2011


Actually, Mad got it's start in 1952
posted by Redhush at 8:26 AM on June 20, 2011


I'm still hoping someone will find the Arthur Godfrey nuclear attack public service announcement.

http://conelrad.com/godfrey_1.html
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 12:40 PM on June 20, 2011


conelrad.com is the cold-war site to go to for a loooong time.

Film's a little quaint tho. Thanks to the kids at DHS, we now know that DUCK TAPE AND COVER is the modern way ta go. Great for hangin' from a airy-plane when yer out moose-huntin' too!
posted by Twang at 3:33 PM on June 20, 2011


we now know that DUCK TAPE AND COVER is the modern way ta go.

You mean "be afraid, be very afraid" is the modern way, having supplanted the old "it'll be fine, we'll totally win this" approach.
posted by pompomtom at 4:58 AM on June 21, 2011


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