Runs at Grand Illusion, Sat., July 5–Thurs., July 10. Not rated. 92 minutes.
Seen at SIFF last year as The Fever of '57, this documentary makes you nostalgic for the MSM. It was a much, much simpler world when Walter Cronkite, Edward G. Murrow, and their fellow broadcasters broke the big story of Russia's entry into space. Their reports and much wonderful old newsreel footage are included in this account of the year following the first satellite launched into orbit. So we have Ike and LBJ and Khrushchev pondering the Cold War implications, armies parading through Red Square, duck-and-cover drills at school, families cowering in their backyard bomb shelters, and rocket clubs springing up across America. (In an interview, one scientist says some of his Nobel-laureate peers lost fingers during those unsupervised adventures.) Still, nostalgia only gets you so far. David Hoffman's well-assembled clips and commentators—including NPR's Daniel Schorr—don't have much new to say, and the post-Sputnik Cold War stuff is well-traveled ground. Probably most informative for viewers whose memories begin with the space shuttles of the '80s, Fever does amplify an important theme from the recent doc Why We Fight: It often takes ex-generals like Ike (and Khrushchev) to resist the rush to war. A half-century later, we still haven't learned.