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Shadow on the Land (1968)

TV Movie  |   |  Action, Sci-Fi, Drama  |  4 December 1968 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 77 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 1 critic

Patriotic freedom fighters struggle against a fascist dictatorship in a near-future USA.

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, (creator), 1 more credit »
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Title: Shadow on the Land (TV Movie 1968)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marc Strange ...
Maj. Shepherd McCloud
...
Lt. Col. Andy Davis
...
Gen. Wendell Bruce
...
Rev. Thomas Davis
...
Abigail 'Abby' Tyler
...
Capt. Everett
Michael Margotta ...
Timothy Willing (as Mike Margotta)
Scott Thomas ...
Felting
Myron Healey ...
General Hempstead
Frederic Downs ...
Drucker
...
Lt. Allen (as Johnathan Lippe)
Bill Walker ...
Arnold
Mickey Sholdar ...
Paul
Ronnie Eckstine ...
David
Sandy McPeak ...
Ben (as Sandy Kevin)
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Storyline

Near-future freedom fighters battle Nazism, which has developed in the US rather than 1930's Germany. A look at an alternate history, with interesting social implications. Written by Peter Maranci <pmaranci@tiac.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Sci-Fi | Drama

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 December 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

United States: It Can't Happen Here  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As the camera tracks with protagonist, a bookstore in the background displays copies of only one book: "My Struggle" by "The Leader", which is English for "Mein Kampf" by "Der Fuehrer" (Adolf Hitler). See more »

Quotes

Gen. Wendell Bruce: You insist? You insist? Are you trying to give me an order? Who the h__l do you think you're talking to? "You insist"!
Gen. Hempstead: May I remind you, sir: Davis is an Army man. You've taken him into custody, arrested him for reasons unknown to us. I demand to know...
Gen. Wendell Bruce: YOU DEMAND? Let me remind you, General: the Internal Security Forces SUPERSEDE the Army! AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT! I'll arrange your resignation so fast you won't know what hit you. "You demand".
Gen. Hempstead: My apology for what might have been an ...
[...]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Tale Forty Years Too Early
31 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When it aired, "Shadow on the Land"'s premise was barely credible: an unexplained national emergency so terrifies the country that Congress grants the President virtually unlimited emergency powers, which he promptly uses to establish a national security agency charged with hunting down the nation's external and internal "enemies." Soon the country is awash in curfews, traveling papers, checkpoints and managed news. Dissent is unpatriotic and quashed in the name of security and national harmony. In response, a small underground emerges dedicated to revealing the corruption and our loss of freedoms.

Run as a TV movie, "Shadow on the Land" should have done better than it did, and might have made an interesting series had it received better viewer response. Unfortunately, its cautionary message of a fearful America willing to surrender basic freedoms seemed preposterous. Not helping was a fairly plodding script, generally heavy-handed characterizations and an absence of any sense of impending menace or danger.

Still, "Shadow" featured such dependable lead actors as Jackie Cooper, John Forsythe, Gene Hackman, Carol Lynley, Marc Strange and Janice Rule, supported by a strong cast of future character actors including Scott Thomas, Bill Walker and Ken Swofford. All the actors -- Cooper and Hackman especially -- gave solid performances despite the script, which must have seemed something of a fantasy to everyone involved.

While many of the casting decisions were predicable, there was one truly inspired piece of casting that set the show apart: John Forsythe as General Wendell Bruce, head of West Coast security and the resident villain. Setting his likable "Bachelor Father" (1957-1962) persona on its head, Forsythe created a disturbingly complex and believable nemesis: intelligent, dedicated to his duty, sophisticated, articulate and likable, with a ready smile and well-tailored suits. It was truly chilling to watch him, and helped build a case for the type of people who might someday convince us they were only there to "protect" us.

Given the current political and social climate, "Shadow on the Land" was clearly a show forty years ahead of its time – an unusually cautionary tale raised in a television era still dominated by fare such as "Beverley Hillbillies," "Batman," "Death Valley Days: and "Hawaii Five-O." Someone ought to find it in the archives, dust it off, and either run it or redo it; I think we'd be far more willing to believe its vision of America than we were in 1968.

Still, given that same climate, one has to wonder if the show could be done today. The premise strikes far too close to home, and patriotism isn't what it used to be. We've clearly demonstrated that as a people we are now perfectly willing to sacrifice a little freedom for security and safety, just as were the citizens of "Shadow."

On a final minor note, one has to wonder if our Homeland Security folks realize that their eagle logo bears a haunting similarity to "Shadow"'s homeland security agency emblem. If we don't learn from history – even fictional ones – we are somehow doomed to repeat it.


13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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