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The House in the Middle (1954)

| Documentary, Short
Atomic tests at the Nevada Proving Grounds (later the Nevada Test Site) show effects on well-kept homes, homes filled with trash and combustibles, and homes painted with reflective white ... See full summary »
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Atomic tests at the Nevada Proving Grounds (later the Nevada Test Site) show effects on well-kept homes, homes filled with trash and combustibles, and homes painted with reflective white paint. Asserts that cleanliness is an essential part of civil defense preparedness and that it increased survivability. Selected for the 2002 National Film Registry of "artistically, culturally, and socially significant" films. Written by waldo

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Middle House on the Prairie
19 May 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The "National Clean-Up Paint-Up Fix-Up Bureau" was an arm of the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association. I don't know who was the intended audience for this film (homeowners? hardware store jobbers?), but the unintended hilarity is of a piece with other Cold War atomic-survival films.

The film does take pains to point out that this advice is meant for suburban homeowners who live on the "outer fringes" of a target area. There is enough truth in the advice here -- paint your house white to reflect heat, keep your grounds free of trash and clutter to prevent the spread of fire -- that the casual viewer of the 1950s might begin to think seriously about doing a little maintenance work. It was not enough to urge people to keep things neat and tidy because, well, they really should; the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association clearly felt that homeowners had to be scared into doing so. I wonder if it worked?

You'll be happy to know that the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association is still around. After a merger in 2010 with a like-minded organization, it's now called the American Coatings Association. I'll bet there's a p.r. guy in the ACA keeping a close eye on the movements of the Chinese Navy.


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