The Best of Cold War Cinema

With the Evil Empire as the bad guy, Hollywood made some great flicks
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2009 2:30 PM CST

Maybe the reason Betsy Sharkey is feeling nostalgic about Cold War flicks is that the era offered a clear, if flawed, idea that we were the good guys. Regardless, it made for some good movies. The Los Angeles Times critic's faves, by "capricious category":

  • Aliens: With "subtexts rich in what the 'aliens' might be capable of," films like the original Day the Earth Stood Still shine. Also of note is the ghetto freakout Brother From Another Planet (1984).

  • Spies: A toss-up between Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966), with "Paul Newman at his enigmatic best," and Sean Penn's addled druggie-Soviet operative in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985 ) .
  • Clowns: What use is the threat of nuclear annihilation if it doesn't inspire some top-notch comedy? Hands down best: the "both-sides-of-the-coin insanity" of Dr. Strangelove.
  • Adversaries: "Showdown" flicks abound, but the best is the 1964 doozy Fail-Safe, with "Henry Fonda in the Oval Office with a Sophie's choice on his hands."
  • "Lethal weapons": In the "tightly wound agent" genre, Sharkey can't help but go with Matt Damon's take on Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne. And of course—though heaven knows how he could be tightly wound with all those martinis—there's always ...
  • Bond: James Bond.
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