Cinema History from the Cold War!

Modern Minute Men
Ohio Bell Telephone Company
Wilding Pictures
1952


"Hiroshima! Nagasaki! Ohio?"  Could an A-Bomb catch the Buckeye State unprepared, causing unprecedented damage?  This is the question asked by Modern Minute Men, which opens with a dramatic re-enactment of Longfellow's famous poem "Paul Revere's Ride".  Referring to American Revolutionaries who could assemble for battle at a moment's notice, the film stresses that while the original minute men used horses and lanterns to warn of an enemy attack, in the Cold War, civil defense volunteers utilize radar, telephone systems, and a host of other sophisticated equipment to help spread the alarm.  Ohio Bell Telephone, who produced the film in 1952 along with Wilding Pictures, was eager to point out that despite technological advancement, the basic tenets for warning and protection often remain the same.  No matter how many machines are incorporated, dedicated men and women would be needed to insure an effective civil defense.  This same comparison was drawn in Ready on the Home Front, a 1942 film also made by Ohio Bell Telephone to emphasize the need for air raid wardens and home firefighting training.

                             

Created specifically for Ohio, Modern Minute Men quickly dismisses the notion that the state contains no probable targets for enemy bombs.  "Big Sam" Rankin, an air raid warden from the Second World War, explains to his son and daughter-in-law the changing nature of warfare, where industrial centers like Akron, Columbus, and Cincinnati are all subject to the atomic threat.  Sam Rankin's World War II experience is the focus of Ready on the Home Front.  Using scenes from that film, Rankin demonstrates firefighting and sheltering techniques lifted straight from "the last war", arguing for their effectiveness even in the face of an atom bomb.  Upon release, the film proved popular and in June of 1952, it was nominated for an award in the "Best Civil Defense Film" category of the Cleveland Film Festival.  It was featured alongside contemporary releases including Target U.S.A., Duck and Cover, And a Voice Shall Be Heard, The Waking Point, and Survival Under Atomic Attack.  Despite being a local favorite, Modern Minute Men would lose to The Waking Point, a British film about the importance of rescue squads.(1) Concluding the film, then governor of Ohio Frank J. Lausche emphasizes the importance of providing aid during an emergency. "If atomic bombs fall upon America, everybody, everywhere in the untouched areas can look to the homeless and injured and say to himself there but for the grace of God go I . . . "

1.  CONELRAD.  Chronology: At the Pace of a Tortoise.  Accessed Jan. 19, 2013.  http://www.conelrad.com/duckandcover/cover.php?turtle=04