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Shadow on the Land

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Made-for-tv film (1968; vt United States: It Can't Happen Here). Screen Gems for ABC-TV. Produced by Matthew Rapf. Created by Sidney Sheldon. Directed by Richard C Sarafian. Written by Nedrick Young, based on It Can't Happen Here (1935) by Sinclair Lewis. Cast includes Jackie Cooper, John Forsythe, Gene Hackman, Carol Lynley and Marc Strange. 100 minutes. Colour.

An unspecified national Disaster leads a panicked US Congress to grant almost unlimited power to the President, who promptly takes on the title of The Leader and sets up a fascist government. Congress passes legislation creating the Internal Security Force which punishes all dissent; identification cards are shortly required for travel within the nation. An underground resistance movement known as the Society of Man is formed, although their effectiveness is limited. By the end of the film concentration camps are established for dissenters, although the Society continues to operate.

Produced during the civil-rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, this early made-for-television film was a pilot for a never-launched series. It then seemed too far-fetched to be taken seriously by the critics, and was heavily derided as outright fantasy. In the present US political climate which has developed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many of the film's plot elements seem prophetic. It is perhaps no surprise that Shadow on the Land has not been released to the home video market and is almost never shown on television; it is however available online. [GSt]


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