Movies watched for The Enemy Within

THE ODESSA FILE (1974) stars John Voight as a German reporter hunting down Nazi war criminal Maximilian Schell, which leads Voight to learn of Odessa, a post-war Fifth Column that’s placed SS officers into every aspect of German life. Unusually, the goal isn’t to start a Fourth Reich but simply to get rich and escape war-crimes trials; competently cast with Derek Jacobi, Mary Tamm and Maria Schell among the supporting players. “What you have done sickened all mankind—but I am here for my father.”

THE SILENCER (1999) has a federal agent go undercover as a hitman to infiltrate the terrorist uber-conspiracy The Group, only to discover this is just a ploy by his FBI bosses to frame him for murdering a senator asking too many question. This might slide in as a candidate for my book since it reveals the existence of the homegrown conspiracy D5, an FBI black ops cell that purged enemies J. Edgar couldn’t blackmail, including JFK and Martin Luther King (“Hoover didn’t pull the trigger, but he orchestrated the cover-up.”). In its own right, unimpressive. “You’re just like your father-a perfect patsy.”

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) is, of course, the classic Fifth Column film in which a Red-baiting candidate and his scheming wife turn out to be Commie plants, a Chinese brainwashing expert goes shopping at Macey’s (“My wife gave me a list.”) and Frank Sinatra assures his superiors that Laurence Harvey is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being he’s ever known. A landmark in so deftly skewering both Bogeyman and Bogeyman-Hunters, though it’s not one I really have any fresh insight into. “What was Raymond doing with his hands?”

BLIND HORIZON (2003) is one that doesn’t qualify, a dull thriller in which Val Kilmer wakes up amnesiac but convinced he knows something about an upcoming presidential assassination … Neve Campbell and Lauren Hutton are among the supporting cast trapped in this.

DIARY OF A MADMAN (1963) is one that skirts the edges of my book in implying the sinister Horla are preying on human beings by turning us against each other; however, as the only one we see is the one which drives magistrate Vincent Price to madness and murder, it doesn’t quite cut it. Good, though “Surely you realize that when a man cannot see his reflection, there must be someone between him and the mirror!”

RENDITION (2007) is an earnest but uninteresting drama in which Reese Witherspoon tries working through the system to get her Arab husband out of enemy combatant status despite the opposition of authoritarian security official Meryl Street. Dramatically mediocre. “Give me a pie chart—I love pie charts.”

EXECUTIVE ACTION (1973) is more interesting, even though it’s a muddled mess chronicling how businessmen Will Geer and Burt Lancaster are among the schemers plotting to assassinate JFK to stop him pulling out of ‘nam (“With Vietnam as a base, we can keep the population in the East down to five and a half billion-and use the same techniques on blacks and Mexicans here.”). Pulls out all the usual arguments (Oswald imposters, deaths of witnesses) without convincing “In Europe, heads of state are killed by conspirators-our presidents are killed by madmen.”

LOOSE CHANGE 9/11: AN AMERICAN COUP (2009) is the latest revision of the original Loose Change documentary that asserts the 9/11 attacks were a power play in the tradition of the Reichstag fire or the Gulf of Tonkin resolution by “a group of tyrants ready and willing to do anything to maintain their stranglehold on America.” Not as nutty as the original version (dropping the claim that the planes that hit the Pentagon and the Twin Towers had actually been replaced with robot drones) but still enough political paranoia for my book. “The slaughter of civilians in broad daylight as the means of promoting an agenda is not unprecedented.”

THE MILLION EYES OF SUMURU (1967) marginally qualifies thanks to sinister Shirley Eaton’s scheme to marry female agents to the world’s wealthiest men, though it’s a marginal element of this plot which mostly concerns Frankie Avalon and George Nader slugging, kissing and wise-cracking their way through a bad Bond knockoff. Only marginally similar to Sax Rohmer’s original “How come everyone hates you and tries to kill me?”

TRIBULATION 99: ALIEN ANOMALIES UNDER AMERICA (1992) is a mockumentary using recycled film and news clips to show how America’s interference in South America (El Salvador, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala) was a sustained effort to thwart the mind-control schemes of evil aliens living inside the hollow earth. Entertaining

MY SON JOHN (1952) lives down to all the reviews I’ve heard in showing how intellectual Robert Walker was corrupted by Communism into actually questioning what his parents and the Catholic Church told him!!! Unlike most of its Red-baiting brethren, this devotes little time to what the Party does (apparently just getting Walker to disagree with his parents was perfidy enough); what really makes it a headscratcher is that while we’re apparently supposed to side with Helen Hayes and Dean Jagger as the parents, they come across as really unpleasant people rather than salt-of-the-earth types. Memorably awful “Everybody has a purpose in life-even Judas.”

HITLER’S DAUGHTER (1990) is a TV Fifth Column film in which Patrick Cassidy discovers that Hitler’s bastard daughter is the head of a conspiracy to raise the Fourth Reich in America, and that she’s on the brink of getting into the White House as either the vice-president, the Secretary of State or the president’s mistress (but … which?). Very Idiot Plot (if Phoenix had burned the secret file instead of letting Cassidy hang onto it, there’d have been no movie) and very blandly acted; Kay Lenz plays one of the suspects. “The new generation of Nazis in America is greater than existed in Germany in 1931!”

3 Comments

Filed under Movies, Screen Enemies of the American Way

3 responses to “Movies watched for The Enemy Within

  1. Pingback: Illogicon, Monster Earth and Things Not Being Coincidental | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: The near-miss Bond: Octopussy | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Non-time travel movies, some time-travel TV (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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