He May Be a Communist!
On Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), and The Way We Were (1973)
New Books Network 2022
We are back for a third season! The Russian invasion of Ukraine reminded us all that “everything old is new again” and that includes Cold War tensions, nuclear fears, and paranoia about “unseen enemies.” With our organizing principle of the Cold War and Hollywood representation, we begin with the Red Scare. We discuss Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), and The Way We Were (1973). Together these films reveal how the Red Scare cast a wide and enduring shadow on our culture. We highlight three themes. First, Cold War paranoia was a bipartisan issue. Second, the Korean War cast doubt on the relative strength of the military and our institutions long before Vietnam did. And finally, we dispute the comforting lie that progress is inevitable, that we are always on a path towards improvement, advancement, an expansion of rights, and a greater equality among people.