UC Berkeley Library

Documentaries on the 1950's


Recorded form a broadcast of the television program "Firing Line." William F. Buckley, Roy Cohn and others discuss the McCarthy army hearings, and McCarthyism and communisms in general.

McCarthyism: Past, Present, Future

Host: William F. Buckley Jr.; guest, Leo Cherne ; moderator, John Scott. Mr. Buckley seeks, with his old friend and adversary Mr. Cherne, to explore, as he puts it, why Joseph McCarthy's "oversimplifications were judged to be almost unique and highly damaging ... whereas the contemporary oversimplifications of, say, a Harry Truman, or, before that, of a Franklin Roosevelt, or subsequently of a Lyndon Johnson, are not seen as that offensive." Originally broadcast as an episode of the television program Firing Line on May 16, 1966. 49 min.

Memphis Dreams: Innocence and Rebellion. (Century: Events that Shaped the World; 7.)

Elvis: Iconoclastic phenomenon, inciting hysteria in teenagers and indignation in parents. On his way to the top he combined the R&B of the Mississippi delta with rocka-billy and tapped into the turbulent forces of youth, sexuality, class, and race, transforming American culture. This program documents the astounding career of Elvis Presley, from his first hits with Sun Records to his final days at Graceland. In the words of John Lennon, "Before Elvis there was nothing." 43 min.

Modern Presidential Campaigns.

v. 1. The modern era begins [1920-1944] (51 min.) -- v. 2. From train to television [1948-1960] (80 min.) -- v. 3. Turbulence, populism and power politics [1964-1976] (82 min.) -- v. 4. Images & sound bites [1980-1988] (81 min.). 294 min.

New York in the Fifties

Presents the story of a unique time and place, New York in the 50s, a hotbed of new artistic expressions, free love, drinking, hot jazz and radical politics. Combines archival footage with interviews and footage of the icons of the day -- Kerouac, Ginsberg, Baldwin, Mailer, Basie, etc. and offers modern day perspectives through reminiscences of writers, actors and artists. Special features: Director interview ; theatrical trailer ; scene access ; interactive menus. Based on the book by Dan Wakefield (Main Stack PS3573.A413.Z474 1992). 2001. 72 min.


Directed by Oliver Stone, 1995. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris, James Woods. Drama about the fall of President Richard Nixon portrayed as a complex man whose chance at greatness was ultimately destroyed by his passion for power-- when his involvement in conspiracy jeopardizes the nation's security and the presidency of the United States. 191 min. ; See separate bibliography of reviews and articles about this film

Nixon. (American Experience)

Covers the span of Richard M. Nixon's political life from his early political career to his resignation from the presidency. 174 min. :1-3

Nixon: Checkers to Watergate.

A compilation of archival still and motion picture photography showing speeches, interviews, and press conferences by Richard Nixon, as candidate, Congressman, Vice-President, and President. Concentrates on well-known sequences such as the McCarthy hearings, the Nixon-Kennedy debates, the Checkers speech, and clips concerning Vietnam and Watergate. 20 min.

Operation Abolition and Operation Correction

Operation Correction: A film by the American Civil Liberties Union produced as a rebuttal to the House Un-American Activities Committee's film "Operation Abolition," that was an attempt to characterize as communist inspired, the May, 1960 student and activist demonstrations against the activities of the Committee. "Operation Correction" entirely deconstructs that film, making the same case against the committee that the students and activists were. Produced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California; director/narrator, Ernest Besig. 1961. 44 min.