May 1 2007

Found Footage: May Day 1961

Here is a short American news clip from 1961 covering the May 1st celebrations in both the Soviet Union and Cuba. While the clip shows little about the actual May Day events, it does provide examples of both American and Soviet Cold War propaganda.

April 20 2007

Promo for “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming”

Here’s a commercial for one of our favorite cold war era movies – the 1966 American comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.”

Link: The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming at Amazon

Link: The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming at IMDB

March 27 2007

Found Photo: Somewhere In the USSR

“Somewhere In the USSR.” Photo from Soviet Photo magazine 1970. Via Soviet Photo Daily.

March 16 2007

Cold War Films

Last week’s article about Samantha Smith and Katya Lycheva generated a lot of feedback from our friends and readers. Many found the story of these child ambassadors inspiring and hopeful. Others found it hard to believe that a 10-year-old girl would ever write such a letter or even think about such topics as nuclear war. This led to a discussion of how American children viewed the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Why were American kids afraid of the USSR and of nuclear war? While there were many things that affected children during the Cold War, mass media was certainly a very strong influence.

Here’s a sample of some films that might cause a child to write things like “I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war” and “I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country.” [1] These are just a few of the many films produced during the Cold War that portrayed a Russian invasion of America.

Invasion U.S.A.
This 1952 film portrays a communist invasion of America. Here’s the original trailer for the film.

The Day After
ABC aired this made-for-TV film in November of 1983. The film portrays a Soviet nuclear attack on America and the aftermath of this attack. Here’s a clip from the film.

Red Dawn
A Hollywood blockbuster starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. The film portrays a Soviet and Cuban/Latin American invasion of the United States in the late 1980s, igniting a world war. Here’s the trailer for Red Dawn.

This 1987 ABC mini-series cost about $40 million to produce and was watched by 100 million people. [2] Amerika’s plot takes place in 1997 after 10 years of Soviet occupation of America. While the plot seems fairly frivolous, it gives an interesting look into how Americans felt about the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
Here is a commercial for Amerika

This clip from the mini-series shows a young American boy in a costume similar to that of a Soviet Young Pioneer. He is giving a speech about the new Amerika to a crowd saying,

“We are grateful to our Soviet brothers who saved the world from destruction, and we can now join them in a world of socialist brotherhood. Everyone will go to school, everyone will have a job, everyone will be equal. No one will exploit or be exploited, and all those who oppose this wonderful vision will be crushed.”

Link: Invasion U.S.A.
Link: The Day After
Link: Red Dawn
Link: Amerika

March 7 2007

Samantha Smith and Katya Lycheva – Child Ambassadors

 In 1982 Samantha Smith, a 10-year-old American fifth grader, wrote to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov to ask if he was going to wage a nuclear war against America. A few months later, she received a personal response from Andropov and was invited to visit the USSR. Her 1983 tour of the Soviet Union garnered extensive mass media attention in both countries. She visited Moscow, Leningrad and spent time with Soviet children in Artek. Speaking at a Moscow press conference, Smith declared that the Russians were “just like us”.

 After her trip, Smith’s popularity grew in both countries and she became a political and peace activist. Samantha hosted several television shows and co-starred in an American sitcom. The Soviet Union even issued a commemorative stamp of Smith.

Samantha Smith died tragically in 1985 when her plane crashed in Maine.

As a result of Smith’s visit, Soviet schoolgirl Katya Lycheva was invited to tour the US in 1986. She spent time visiting cities across the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.. She even had the opportunity to meat President Ronald Reagan. Katya’s visit made headlines around the world. After her visit, Lycheva became quite famous in the USSR and went on to star in several Soviet films.

Link: Samantha Smith
Link: Samantha Smith at Wikipedia
Link: Children As The Peacemakers Foundation