7.2/10
602
5 user 13 critic

Command and Control (2016)

Trailer
2:19 | Trailer
Documentary of 1980's near-launch of a nuclear missile from Arkansas, based on Eric Shlosser's award-winning book of the same name.

Director:

Robert Kenner

Writers:

Robert Kenner (screenplay), Brian Pearle (story by) | 3 more credits »
2 wins. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Credited cast:
Harold Brown Harold Brown ... Himself - Secretary of Defense
Allan Childers Allan Childers ... Himself - Missile Combat Crew
Bill Clinton ... Himself (archive footage) (as Gov. Bill Clinton)
Greg Devlin Greg Devlin ... Himself - PTS Team
Rodney Holder Rodney Holder ... Himself - Missile Combat Crew
Sam Hutto Sam Hutto ... Himself - Dairy Farmer
Jeff Kennedy Jeff Kennedy ... Himself - PTS Team (archive footage) (as Sgt. Jeff Kennedy)
Sid King Sid King ... Himself - Manager, KGFL Radio
Hans Mark Hans Mark ... Himself - Secretary of Air Force (archive footage)
John Moser John Moser ... Himself - Commander 308th Strategic Missile Wing (as Col. John Moser)
Bob Peurifoy Bob Peurifoy ... Himself - Director of Weapon Development, Sandia
Jeffrey Plumb Jeffrey Plumb ... Himself - PTS Team
Dave Powell Dave Powell ... Himself - PTS Team
David Pryor David Pryor ... Himself - (D) Arkansas (as Sen. David Pryor)
Skip Rutherford Skip Rutherford ... Himself - Aide to Senator David Pryor
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Storyline

Documentary of 1980s near-nuclear ground explosion of a Titan II missile in Damascus, Arkansas in Silo 374-7, based on Eric Shlosser's award-winning book of the same title. A riveting minute by minute account of the accident started by the failure to follow written maintenence procedures. Written by Odyssey10

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

Official Sites:

American Experience | Facebook | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 April 2016 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Damascus, Arkansas, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,725, 30 September 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$46,603, 9 October 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Governor of Arkansas at the time of the incident was Bill Clinton. See more »

Goofs

It was never possible for an accidental Titan missile explosion to unleash a nuclear detonation. The worst scenario would have been the deaths of the crew in the affected silo.

All nuclear warheads rely on "quick-assembly" in order to achieve critical mass, and therefore detonation. The very first atomic bomb type built and tested by the USA was adapted from an artillery piece (a simple, linear assembly). All subsequent devices have been designed as implosion models, where a complex set of explosive lenses compress the fissile material in a uniform manner, and in perfect sequence.

The premise that a fuel leak at a Titan missile silo could have caused a thermonuclear disaster is both deeply flawed and physically impossible. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Powerful and Timely Documentary about a Cold War Accident
2 October 2016 | by Nicholas RuddickSee all my reviews

You won't find much about the 1980 Damascus Titan Missile Explosion on Wikipedia. It was one of those minor Cold War mishaps that barely made it beyond the local news. A young airman was doing routine maintenance at an Arkansas ICBM site. He didn't fully appreciate the difference between a ratchet and a socket wrench (who knew there was a difference?) and accidentally dropped the heavy steel head of his tool into the silo of an aged Titan II missile. The head punctured the skin of the missile, resulting in a fuel leak and, a few hours later, an explosion that wrecked the silo, killing one airman and wounding 21 others. Fortunately, the Titan's nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead, the most powerful US bomb then in existence, did not explode.

This low-key but powerful documentary examines the chain of events that led to the accident and, more pertinently, looks at the wider significance of what did and didn't happen. There are interviews with the surviving site crew and some impressive re-enactments of the sequence of events, so realistic that at first you think it must be authentic historical footage. The investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, author of an acclaimed book about the Damascus accident, had a large hand in this production and appears periodically in the film.

Knowing little about Damascus, you might be tempted to chalk it up as a calamity avoided because the safety systems in place actually worked. By the time the film is over, you won't be so dismissive. The most serious nuclear threat to the US at this time (because it occurred on a frequent daily basis, and had little to do with international tensions) was from accidents within its own arsenal. (A similar situation must surely have prevailed in the Soviet Union.)

Are we safer now, given that there are far fewer nukes deployed and Command and Control organizations have learned from past experiences? The documentary has a clear answer, and it's probably not the one we hoped for.


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