This Is Not A Test (1962)

This_Is_Not_A_Test_(1962)‘If you leave that crazy car in the middle of the road, it’s gonna get banged up!’ 

A deputy sheriff sets up on a roadblock on a lonely mountain highway, and stops everyone who tries to pass. The angry motorists take issue with his actions until he informs them that he’s under orders to do so because an imminent nuclear attack is on the way.

Low budget, small scale drama rooted in the nuclear paranoia of the era. lt’s a potentially interesting setup that focuses on the character interactions of a small group of ordinary folk wrestling with the probable consequences of mutually assured destruction. Unfortunately, technical and budgetary limitations mean that nearly the entire 72 minutes plays out on the roadside, or in the haulage truck they decide to use as an improvised bomb shelter, and so the finished product mostly closely resembles a filmed stage play.

With such limited resources, it’s down to the cast and the script and, unfortunately, neither delivers any real invention or insight. Everyone bickers and argues in fairly predictable ways, and obvious attempts to elicit audience engagement and sympathy come over as corny and too blatant. When the screenplay departs from the everyday, the dialogue becomes too mannered and hard to credit. The introduction of a juvenile killer seems pretty contrived but, without it, there would be no action at all. As it is, this plot development is a bit like our stranded heroes; it doesn’t go anywhere.

The performances are mostly acceptable, but nominal lead Seamon Glass is rather wooden as the Deputy, which is unfortunate as the role really needed an actor with some screen presence to lead the drama. His career mirrors a lot of the other cast members; a string of bits as bartenders and policemen on network TV in the 1970s, although he did have a minor role in ’Mudd’s Women’, an episode of the original series of ‘Star Trek.’

This Is Not A Test (1962)

You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!

Michael Green gained an ‘e’ at the end of his surname and became a far more familiar face on TV with featured roles on such hit shows such as ‘Quantum Leap’, the 1990s incarnation of ‘Mission: Impossible’ and ’Baywatch’. He also played supporting parts in many films such as ‘Lord of the Flies’ (1990) and ‘*batteries not included’ (1987). Elsewhere, this was old timer Thayer Roberts’ penultimate role in a career that had begun as a policeman in Charlie Chan programmer ‘The Chinese Ring’ (1947).

The real problem here is that the characters are little more than cyphers and their interactions are just too predictable. This was director Fredric Gadette’s only film and credit must be given for what were most probably great efforts to get his vision up on the screen, but it was not picked up for distribution or released to cinemas at the time.

There is some potential for a good, character based drama here, but the script has nothing new to offer, and the production is limited by its humble origins.

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