Civil Defense Short Subject Films
You Can Beat the A-Bomb - title screen


For the purposes of this comprehensive inventory, CONELRAD has grouped many of the different subgenres of Cold War instructional movies under the umbrella title, "Civil Defense Short Subject Films." The CIVIL DEFENSE section features films that deal explicitly with preparing for atomic attack or other disasters and the anticipated aftermath of such events. This subgenre includes Civil Defense commercials that were aired on local television in the public interest.
Co-produced by the Office of Civil Defense and the American Institute of Architecture.
BOMBPROOF [ 1956 ]
Some may have thought that it was wonderfully civic minded of the Burroughs Corporation to sponsor a film about vital records storage as a component of civil defense, but when 'Bombproof' suddenly turns into an infomercial for the microfilm industry, the company's true motive becomes quite clear. While many film scholars may point to Gene Hackman's break-out role in 1967's BONNIE AND CLYDE as the cinematic vehicle that molded him into the kind of thespian that INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO host James Lipton salivates over, CONELRAD has discovered another role that no doubt made him the performer he is today: "Regional Field Officer" in 1966's COMMUNITY SHELTER PLANNING, a government civil defense film. Yes, the future Popeye Doyle once appeared in an atomic safety film.
CRISIS [ 1956 ]
Got Milk? Civil Defense film sponsored by Pure-Pak Division, Ex-Cell-O Corporation After the U.S. government experienced a PR backlash of sorts with its promotion of family fallout shelters (the private shelters sparked a lively moral debate about whether it was OK to shoot your neighbor if he tried to force his way into your end-of-the-world abode), public shelters became the official survival vehicle for the nation. Like 'Information Program Within Public Shelters,' this is another over-optimistic introduction to post-Bomb shelter life courtesy the U.S. government. This amusing film has such an incongruous assortment of scenes that it makes underground living seem like some sort of family summer camp sponsored by the military.
This highly optimistic film is comprised of footage capturing an improbably pleasant 1954 test evacuation of Mobile, Alabama. Archer's other civil defense film ('Duck And Cover' being the more well known) is a ponderous examination of the dangers of civilians abandoning an A-bombed city. The story is presented as a dialog between two men, one of whom seems to be perpetually smoking and re-lighting a pipe, sitting in a poorly lit office. You could learn a lot from a civil defense marionette...
TARGET YOU [ ca. 1953 ]
This early civil defense film is essentially a government pamphlet come to life. It features a lot of bizarre family and survival orientated graphics with a stern narrator reciting the facts of preparedness.  


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