An Army of Phantoms: American Cinema and the Cold War

10/5/12 to 10/27/12

Author and critic J. Hoberman has curated this series for us based on his recent book, An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War. The selected films illustrate how cinema articulated the chilling moods and manias of the era, from Joe McCarthy's witch hunts to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and include William Wellman's The Next Voice You Hear, Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets, Sam Fuller's The Steel Helmet, and Laslo Benedek's The Wild One. Hoberman joins us to introduce two of the films and to give a longer talk and sign books at the screening of Fort Apache.

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Past Films

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    • Saturday, October 27 6:30 pm

    Don Siegel (U.S., 1956). Anytown U.S.A. gets clobbered again. This time alien pods replicate full-fledged citizens, turning them into unfeeling collectivized conformists. And the threat is not a bug-eyed alien or insidious Commie, but Mom, Dad, and Little Timmy. “They're already here. You're next! You're next!” (80 mins)

  • Panic in the Streets

    • Sunday, October 21 6:30 pm

    Elia Kazan (U.S., 1950). Richard Widmark is a doctor scouring the streets of New Orleans for the carrier of a deadly disease in this gripping but alarmist tale of a “plague” traveling from abroad to our complacent shores. With Jack Palance, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Zero Mostel. (96 mins)

  • The Wild One

    • Saturday, October 20 8:45 pm

    Laslo Benedek (U.S., 1953). Marlon Brando leads a gang of leather-clad cyclists descending on YOUR small town in this classic of disaffection and outlaw life. What are you rebelling against? “Whaddya got?” Brando infamously states, against a engine-fueled roar. (79 mins)

  • Storm Warning

    • Sunday, October 14 6:15 pm

  • Invaders from Mars

    • Friday, October 12 7 pm

    William Cameron Menzies (U.S., 1953). Student Pick! A terrified thirteen-year-old witnesses an alien invasion, in Menzies's paranoid Cold War-era yarn. “Stylized and almost avant-garde in its use of minimal forms, forced perspective, and bursts of color-field frames, Invaders from Mars suggests a Cold War Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, complete with added dream ‘frame'” (Hoberman). (78 mins)

  • Pickup on South Street

    • Friday, October 12 8:40 pm

    Samuel Fuller (U.S., 1953). Pickpockets and cheap whores battle Commie provocateurs along the seedy New York waterfront in Sam Fuller's noirish potboiler of gutter-level loyalties, both personal and political. With Richard Widmark. (80 mins)

  • Fort Apache

    • Sunday, October 7 6 pm

    John Ford (U.S., 1948) Archival print! Lecture by J. Hoberman, followed by a book signing. The first entry in John Ford's Cavalry Trilogy, Fort Apache sets the nineteenth-century war against the Indians within the sensibility of post-WW II combat. With Henry Fonda, John Wayne, and Shirley Temple. (127 mins plus lecture)

  • The Steel Helmet

    • Saturday, October 6 9 pm

    Samuel Fuller (U.S., 1951) Archival print! Introduced by J. Hoberman. A gruff American sergeant and a South Korean orphan make their way through enemy territory in Fuller's ruthlessly unsentimental war film. (84 mins)

  • The Next Voice You Hear

    • Friday, October 5 7:00 pm

    William Wellman (U.S., 1950) Archival print! Introduced by J. Hoberman. An ordinary family tunes their radio into “the voice of God” in Wellman's arch drama from the Nuclear Age. “A study in terror; it acknowledges an actual anxiety and, however pitifully, responds to a real sense of helplessness” (Hoberman). (82 mins)