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Special Bulletin (1983)

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC... See full summary »

Director:

Edward Zwick

Writers:

Marshall Herskovitz (teleplay), Edward Zwick (story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Flanders ... John Woodley
Kathryn Walker ... Susan Myles
Roxanne Hart ... Megan 'Meg' Barclay
Christopher Allport ... Steven Levitt
David Clennon ... Dr. Bruce Lyman
David Rasche ... Dr. David McKeeson
Rosalind Cash ... Frieda Barton
Ebbe Roe Smith ... Jim Seaver
Roberta Maxwell ... Diane Silverman
Robert Kay Robert Kay ... George Takashima
J. Wesley Huston J. Wesley Huston ... Bernard Frost
Frank Dent Frank Dent ... Dr. Jason Halpern
Charles Lanyer Charles Lanyer ... Merritt Cunningham
Mie Hunt Mie Hunt ... Ellen Stevens
Bruce Fields Bruce Fields ... Walter S. Letteau
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Storyline

A TV reporter and cameraman are taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC area so they may be detonated at sea. They threaten to detonate a nuclear device of their own if their demand isn't met. Written by Keith Chang <changk@ucs.orst.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 March 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Boletín especial See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When this film was first broadcast, the network superimposed the word "dramatization" on the bottom of the screen every few minutes and ran disclaimers after every commercial break, to remind people it was only a movie. That didn't stop some people in Charleston, S.C. from panicking anyway. See more »

Goofs

When the RBS newsroom transfers to their reporter Megan Barclay in Charleston, she begins her report saying; "The situation began approximately 1 hour ago". The report then screens some video from their reporting team and then shows some Super-8 footage which was filmed by a tourist on a sightseeing boat. Super-8 is a film, not video, format. Normally the cost of the film cartridge included postage to a Kodak laboratory where it would be developed and then mailed back to the owner. In this instance, After the boat had reached shore, it would have been necessary to take the film to a Kodak developing facility to be processed, after which it could be taken to the news studio. Due to the time required to get the film to a laboratory for processing and then to get to the news studio it would have been impossible to do this within the time allowed. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Joseph Kadar: Why give them the feed? Why do it? To save lives. Who says it doesn't cost more lives this way? As - as things escalate, as people do more and more outlandish - o-outlandish things to gain the public eye? I - I'd take it out of the network's hand if you ask me. I don't trust their priorities! Make it illegal, just make it illegal to hand over a feed.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opens with a commercial advertising shows for the fictional RBS network, followed by the title "Special Bulletin" as the commercial is interrupted. There are no opening credits, making this one of the first TV movies ever produced without some sort of opening credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

The video release omits the "dramatization" on-screen disclaimer seen throughout the original TV broadcast. The DVD released through the Warner Archive Collection does contain the on-screen disclaimers. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A review of "Special Bulletin" (1983)
23 August 2016 | by ericrnolanSee all my reviews

There's a pretty damn interesting chestnut from from 80's-era nuclear nightmare films available on Youtube — 1983's "Special Bulletin." I was surprised I hadn't heard of it. I think most 80's kids remember ABC's "The Day After." That infamous television movie was a cultural touchstone that scared a generation of kids. "Special Bulletin" was produced by NBC the same year, actually preceding "The Day After" by nine months. Instead of a world-ending war with Russia, the feature-length special imagined a single incident of nuclear terrorism in Charleston, South Carolina. (I myself had no idea that Charleston was the strategic military nexus that the movie explains it to be.)

"Special Bulletin" was filmed as a "War of the Worlds"-type narrative, consisting exclusively of faux news coverage, and it's pretty damned good. (It won a handful of Emmys.) It's just as frightening today — or maybe more so, given the increased threat of precisely this kind of terrorism from stateless groups.

The acting is mostly good, the directing successfully captures the feel of live news coverage, and the absence of a musical score further lends the movie a sense of realism. The story has a few surprises for us, too — the plot setup is creative and interesting, and much more thought went in the the teleplay than I would have expected. The film asks some difficult questions about the role of the media in affecting the outcome of high-profile crimes like the one depicted. (Would such questions be more or less relevant in the age of camera-phones, uploaded ISIS executions and Facebook Live? I'm not sure.)

I was also quite impressed with some of "Special Bulletin's" thriller elements. (I'd say more, but I will avoid spoilers.)

One thing that detracts from the format's realism is the fact that some of this movie's actors are easily recognizable from other roles in the 80's (although it's fun spotting them as an 80's movie fan).

Most viewers my age, for example, will recognize Ed Flanders and Lane Smith. The utterly sexy female reporter who arrives on location at Charleston Harbor is Roxanne Hart, who later played Brenda in "Highlander" (1986). (She's still quite beautiful, guys, and she's still making movies.) Most jarring of all, however, is a prominent role played by David Clennon, who any fan of horror- science fiction will recognize as Palmer from John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece, "The Thing." This is still fun, though — he has that same disarrayed hair. Was it his trademark back in the day?


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