In his book Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, journalist Rick Pearlstein posits that Nixon, one of history’s most reviled presidents, manipulated social trends, tense racial crises and even war to assume the office, and, perhaps inadvertently, created the way the Right and Left deal with each other in the present day. The scars of the seventies indeed still hang like a dark cloud over Washington, its internal systems ravaged by covert bugging operations and illegal payoffs. With Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations and Wikileaks at the forefront today, America has once again regressed into paranoia, though nothing in contemporary cinema compares to the violent, bleak reactions filmmakers had to the Watergate scandal. The occasional modern conspiracy thriller, such as Closed Circuit, typically winds up under the radar these days. Why? Because America already saw this show, and now it’s on Blu-ray.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
In that filled-to-bursting canon of 1950s science fiction cinema, movies range from true film classics – like the Hawksian The Thing from Another World (1951), and that alarm bell about human desensitization, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – to cheapie craptasmagoriums like Beginning of the End (1957 – giant grasshoppers crawling over photographs of downtown Chicago), and It Conquered the World (1956 – “It” being an alien that looks like a devil-faced carrot with lobster claws). I