Cold War Studies has come up with a list of 10 Red Scare films for your Halloween viewing. To purchase from Amazon, just click on each movie title. To view trailers for most of the movies go the Cold War Studies You Tube Channel.
In no particular order, the Red Scare films are:
The Red Menace has been called an overheated expose of Communist Party treachery. Narrated by Los Angeles city councilman, Lloyd G. Douglas, the plot follows an American Vet named Bill Jones as he deals with the unresponsiveness of a government agency called Veteran’s Aid. The agency is responsible for making the G.I. Bill’s promise of a low interest home loan a reality. Bill can’t get them to help him though, and he becomes very disillusioned. His negative feelings make him a prime target for a Communist cell that is always looking for new recruits and also offering their own version of the American dream.
Nobody actually speaks in this film. Instead, they spout phrases like “My flag has three colors, not one that’s the color of blood!” Almost every line consists of either pro or anti-communist cliches and rhetoric.
The basic premise is understandable in light of the times, but it will not be taken seriously today.
In Conspirator, Elizabeth Taylor is shocked to learn that her husband — a British officer played by Robert Taylor — is a murderous Communist agent.
Guilty of Treason is the story of Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary whom the Reds framed as an anti-Semite and imprisoned in 1949. Mindzenty, played by Charles Bickford, was released from prison in 1956.
[NOTE: The trailer for this film is not available.]
In The Iron Petticoat, Bob Hope and Katherine Hepburn take a page from Ninotchka . Hope plays a wise-cracking American while Hepburn is a frosty Soviet official.
Like Ninotchka? Here’s another take – off for you. Silk Stockings is a musical remake of the 1939 film. Cyd Charisse plays Greta Garbo’s role as the no – nonsense party official sent to retrieve three colleagues who have been seduced by the charms of Paris. Fred Astaire plays the American who tries to win her indoctrinated heart. Cole Porter’s music provides the magic.
In The Manchurian Candidate, one of my all time favorites, Laurence Harvey plays a former Korean War POW who has been brainwashed. Years later he is used to assassinate a presidential nominee. Frank Sinatra is memorable as Harvey’s commanding officer who overcomes his own brainwashing to figure out and defuse the plot. The Communist ringleader of the scheme turns out to be Harvey’s mother, portrayed chillingly by Angela Lansbury. From the Richard Condon novel.
Starring Sean Connery, From Russia With Love is the second film in the James Bond series. In this film, Agent 007 faces off against a multitude of villains. Bond is sent to Istanbul to steal a state – of – the – art Russian decoding machine. To accomplish this, he seduces a gorgeous clerk from the Soviet embassy who helps him out in the end.
Many think this is the best of the James Bond series!!
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is based on spy master John Le Carre’s best selling novel. Richard Burton plays a burned out agent who’s asked to carry out one more impossible mission for queen and country.
The Ipcress File, based on Len Deighton’s best seller, is in the same vein as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Michael Caine plays Harry Palmer, a crook converted into a secret agent.
Reds has been mentioned in several previous posts on Cold War Studies. It is a quintessential Hollywood spectacle, portraying events leading to the First Red Scare. Warren Beatty plays John Reed, a radical American journalist. Set during the days surrounding the October Revolution of 1917, The film has a stellar cast, including Diane Keaton as Reed’s lover.