In 1968, the creator of I Dream of Jeannie predicted what may yet occur in 2017...
...with a tv-movie that aired on network only once, yet had an enormous impact on those who saw it!In 2016, as in 1968...
We were engaged in an unpopular military action that spawned an ongoing protest movement!
Race relations were cratering!
The economy was doing well, but individuals thought, because they weren't personally doing well, the whole economy was collapsing!
The current President (a Democrat) was not on the ballot for the Presidental election!
With an less than popular Democratic candidate, a Republican who promised "law and order" and to "protect America from potential invaders" won the White House!
Sidney Sheldon, creator/producer of lightweight escapist entertainment like I Dream of Jeannie, Hart to Hart, and The Patty Duke Show, looked at what was going on around him and took a chance.
Screen Gems gave him carte blanche, probably expecting something in a similar vein.
He greenlighted a story by Nedrick Young, who had scripted The Defiant Ones (1958) and the screenplay adaptation of Inherit the Wind (1960).
Sheldon then selected an experenced, versatile director, Richard C Sarafian, with credits ranging from Dr Kildare to Batman!
The cast used both established pros like John Forsythe (against type as the villainous General Bruce, the Leader's trusted military commander) and Jackie Cooper (as the heroic, but doomed, Lt Col Davis), as well as up-and-comers like Gene Hackman and Carol Lynley in supporting roles.
(Trivia Note: one of the supporting characters, Lt Allen, is played by Jonathan Lippe/Jonathan Goldsmith, known today as "the Most Interesting Man in the World" in Dos Equis beer commercials!)
The protaganist, rebel leader Major McCloud, was played by Marc Strange in his only leading role.
The tv-movie, using concepts from both Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here and George Orwell's 1984, portrayed a near-future America where the President declared a national emergency and imposed martial law...but the undefined "emergency" never ended, and martial law quickly mutated into fascist repression!
But the Society of Man, an organized resistance group with people placed within the government, fights back as best it can against the overwheming military and technological might of the fascists.
Left open-ended, the movie practically begs to be continued as a mini-series, if not an ongoing series!
Airing on ABC during the Christmas season (December 4, 1968), it failed to garner decent ratings, and the potential series died quietly.
(Trivia Note: Kenneth Johnson proposed a similar concept called Storm Warnings to NBC in the early 1980s.
They turned it down, and Johnson, following in the steps of Rod Serling and Gene Roddenberry, revamped the concept with science fiction elements, making the fascists into reptilian aliens, and sold the concept as V, which ran as two mini-series and a brief ongoing series in the 80s and a two-season reboot in 2009-10.)
Never available on VHS, DVD or BluRay, the only way to see it is right here.
I'd say "enjoy, but, it's really more frightening than enjoyable...
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