Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Gene Hackman, Cold Warrior

Of all the really great vintage video clips that YouTube has helped unleash on the Internet, this is one of my recent favorites—the website Conelrad, which showcases Atomic-era American pop culture, found a copy of a very early film appearance by Gene Hackman, shortly before he was nominated for an Oscar in Bonnie & Clyde. It's the thrillingly titled Community Shelter Planning, a long-forgotten Civil Defense film made in about 1967. Gene plays a government expert who crisply and efficiently dispenses advice on surviving a nuclear holocaust to an anonymous and befuddled local politico; I like to imagine that it's actually Harry Caul, the surveillance specialist Hackman played in The Conversation, caught eight years earlier and worlds of crushing cynicism distant. Also, since the camera views the entire film from the county commissioner's POV, it's a great way to pretend that you the viewer are also an up-and-coming actor, sharing the scene with Gene and waiting for that fateful phone call from Arthur Penn… (I meant to put up a link to this when I first saw it on the blog Boing Boing a while ago, but time got away from me. Still, does a 39-year-old anti-Soviet propaganda film ever go out of style? I think not.)

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