Radiological Defense
Producer: Norwood Studios
& the US Office of Civil Defense Mobilization

Producer: Reid H. Ray Film Industries
& the Federal Civil Defense Administration

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Radiological Defense A half-hour color propaganda documentary Radiological Defense (1961) begins with a view of the offices & the active teletype machines communicating from all around the United States everything the government needs to know in case of nuclear attack & the need for Civil Defense to go into action to insure American survival of radiation exposure & fallout.

Curiously there we are shown no personel monitoring this information. Which is just as well, since the massive nuclear attack this little film postulates would not be something any aspect of Civil Defense could have done squat about.

But the prevailing propaganda of the era insisted fallout decayed in a matter of days or weeks rather than decades to millennia, & films of this type were used to frighten the population into obedience to the warmongering status quo who were claiming that more & bigger atom bombs were the bulwark of our future survival.

The advice & promised aid this film promulgates would've been universally worthless had nuclear war actually broken out, & anyone who believes the government didn't know that at the time is precisely the sort of gullible plebe the military industrial complex counts on today as much as it did decades anon.

The film establishes that nearly the entirety of the United States would be dusted with radiatioactive particles in a single day after the initial attack, wind patterns rapidly spreading fallout from bombed cities to even the most rural survivors far from the initial devastation.

In full color & with some thriling animation including of a mushroom cloud, the nightmare reality is laid out to scare the bejabbers out of Americans. "All of us even in small towns & on farms live within fallout range of a likely target."

Radiological DefenseA single bomb would seriously threaten the lives of every man, woman, & child within a 7,000 mile radius of each bomb, & there would be so many bombs that fallout would reach us from more than one detonation.

Food supplies & surface water supplies, & crops will be dangerously contaminated & future harvest will be dangerous when grown in contaminated soil, causing death by thirst & famine.

Cows will have to be kept out of pastures, but what sort of livestock fallout shelters are required & where to get uncontaminated chickenmash & bails of hay is not hinted at, which is why other films of this type don't mention livestock since there were not as many fairytale answers for that question.

It was two years after this film was made that the first experiments with "cattle fallout shelters" were conducted in Nebraska. The test proved that cattle & employees to care for them cound indeed live underground for a couple weeks, & the program was called a success that should make China & Russia think twice about bombing us if we can even save a handful of cows.

The test did not include figuring out how to feed animals longterm without access to the outside world, but it wasn't like any of it had to be practical, & no program of constructing cattle fallout shelters all across America was ever pursued since it was inherently ridiculous.

Doesn't all this mean we're just doomed if nuclear war breaks out? Well, yeah, but not according to Radiological Defense it ain't. Survival hinges on "taking shelter before fallout arrived." All reality notwithstanding, we are assured, "There is a defense against fallout. Let's take a look at the basis of the problem."

"As every youngster learns today there is nothing new or mysterious about radiation." There follows a phony lecture about how healthful & good radiation is, at low doses. Fallout isn't a low dose & can be lethal, but it's decay half-life is short, & radiation will fall to levels that are safe if you stay in the basement shelter, backyard fallout shelter, or community shelter.

Radiological DefenseThis assertion the government well knew wasn't true. Some of the over 300 radioactive substances produced by fusion have thirty-year half-lives, so the safety margins described in these sorts of Civil Defense films as taking weeks actually take decades.

But with narrated mumbo-jumbo attended by charts, drawings, photographs, & animation, a completely fake scenario is promulgated to the public, given to believe that waiting out the danger for a couple weeks in the basement will do the trick.

It's hard to know what the government thought it was achieving, beyond obedience, by concocting this fairy tale of the survivability of nuclear warfare. The scientists at the time who were insisting nuclear war meant doomsday were treated as hysterics while monotone authoritative masculine voices in propaganda films described the fairy tale version of things as rational & true.

In this case the calming authorative voice is that of John Forsythe, at the time best known as Bachelor Father the all-wise adoptive father of Kelly & benevolent possessor of a Chinese houseboy who served as mother figure.

Further, we are shown backroom scenes of colluding politicians & titans of industry & agriculture giants, which is supposedly reassuring. "At every level of government," boldly Forsythe lies, "radiological defense units are being equipped & trained to act." So don't worry. Be happy.

Military imagery is aciduously avoided. We're shown a "training kit" smaller than a lunchbucket but given no clue as to what this magic kit contains, though in other scenes the same tin box is used as a geiger counter (called "survey meters").

Ripping sheets of paper out of teletype devices is shown often enough that we must suppose this is especially helpful. If you dare think about any of what we're being shown it becomes clear that most of it hasn't any substance beyond paper-shuffling.

The conclusion is that all citizens must know their responsibilities (unrevealed in this film) & officials at all levels of government must be well informed. Children must be carefully educated as to what "roetgens" means. More advanced computers must be invented.

If everyone understands the Radef Program, we'll survive. But that final image of the teletype room without anyone present to read the last words typed, "The End," is accidentally a more powerful message than the rest of this idiotic half hour, which has enough outright science fiction in it to be entertaining.

Biological Warfare What You Should Know About Biological Warfare (1952) begins with the clear statement that America in spite of its best defenses certainly can be effectively attacked. Agricultural lands would be included among the targets because without access to food production, we could not wage war on any front. Bikini Atoll bomb footage is inserted to establish that fallout as well biological agents could be America's downfall.

We're then shown an enemy agent on the roof of a factory with a can of hairspray, spraying into an air duct. So we must not merely fear foriegn airplanes or atomic bombs, but also our very neighbors, any one of whom could be serving foreign powers carrying about with them hairspray cans of germs or death-gas, a technology which didn't actually exist.

How do we protect ourselves? This bizarre film suggests we first of all trust the government to keep the food supply pure. In the home it is necessary for the whole family to "keep yourself clean." We're shown that taking soapy showers & washing our hands in the sink & scrubbing the floor will help stop biological warfare.

Enrolling in a Red Cross home nursing course will also be helpful. And no matter how slight the illness, always call the doctor & keep him updated so that there will be an official record of the spread of illnesses.

Biological WarfareThe reenactments become increasingly science fictional with a radiio announcement while a typical family is having a meal. The rise in illnesses the last two weeks have given the government to conclude a biological agent has been released by the enemy.

But don't worry, scientists will soon identify the disease & come to your aid. In the meantime drink only bottled liquids & canned goods, scrubbing them before opening. It's okay to eat exposed foods if they are thoroughly boiled or cooked before eating. Water both for the wash & for drinking must be boiled.

Above all else, cooperate with authorities, even if they haul your loved ones away. Important flyers will be delivered to your door.

Sit tight & the public health nurses will soon arrive to stay with you in your home taking care of you & your children (yeah right).

Furthermore you must never listen to baseless jabber (unless you hear it in films like this). And get a copy of the official booklet What You Should Know About Biological Warfare. Government scientists have ready-to-hand a special ink-stamp that says "IDENTIFIED" with which to stamp the folders of the germ warfare agent, & will soon provide medicines that will make you perfectly well.

Sounds like the under-insured should welcome biological warfare since they'll be getting adequate healthcare for the first time in their lives. Plus, in this view of America, there are no black people or asians, so it's just a better world right?

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

[ Film Home ] - [ Film Reviews Index ]
[ Where to Send DVDs for Review ] - [ Paghat's Giftshop ]