Cinema History from the Cold War!

Frontlines of Freedom
Federal Civil Defense Administration
Civil Defence Corps of Canada
1955


In 1946, Phillip Ragan Productions teamed with the Federation of American Scientists to create One World or None, which pleads for the globalized control of atomic energy.  The film, contributed to by many members of the Manhattan Project, explains the threat looming over American cities should antagonistic nations seek to use nuclear weapons in any future wars.  History ultimately proved the film's message would be lost in the years following its release, when an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union quickly escalated.  Nearly a decade later, however, the Federal Civil Defense Administration and the Civil Defence Corps of Canada would jointly produce Frontlines of Freedom, which begins by examining the failure of a One World or None ideal.  Incorporating that film's most potent scenes, Frontlines of Freedom blames all nuclear tensions on Soviet aggression, falsely describing North America's desire to see a neutral authority regulate the advancement of atomic sciences, peaceful or otherwise. 

                             
This film is unique in that it explores the shared interest of Canada and the United States in civil defense protection.  Civil defense films produced in the United States frequently lauded the theme of American might protecting the entire globe from Soviet hostility, but rarely mentioned alliances with specific countries.  The pending devastation of a nuclear war was viewed, and planned for, as a problem which U.S. citizens would need to address with little chance of outside help.  Canada was the notable exception.  As the brief description of Operation Ivy (not to be confused with the program which created the hydrogen bomb) makes clear, Soviet bombs would not discriminate between border cities caught in an atomic blast.  This is hypothesized on screen with the singular destruction of both Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.  Given such circumstances, shared resources would only make sense.  Recognizing their close proximity to the Soviet Union, as well as the presence of mutual defensive radar stations along their northern borders, Canadian government officials stressed the importance of civil defense measures throughout the early 1950's in much the same way as their American counterparts.  Radio spots, posters, and protection oriented literature were dispersed.  This early enthusiasm declined in the latter half of the decade, however.  Likewise, the message of Frontlines of Freedom, with its concentration on heavy bomber air raid attacks, faded with the creation of inter-continental ballistic missiles.  The film was declared obsolete in 1959 when the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization recalled all government copies and encouraged private owners to cease showings.