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Michigan State University

Cold War History A Resource Guide: Audio-Visual Resources


Film Archives

* Prelinger Archives

"Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere. Included are films produced by and for many hundreds of important US corporations, nonprofit organizations, trade associations, community and interest groups, and educational institutions."


* 45/85 : America and the world since World War II (Videodisc format)

ABC News produced this oral/visual history of the U.S. goal of containing Communism from 1945-1985.

* Animated Soviet propaganda : from the October Revolution to Perestroika (DVD format)

From the 1920s to the 1980s, the Soviet regime ordered the production of dozens of animated propaganda films. Their target audience was the Soviet Union itself, and their goal was to win the hearts and minds of the Soviet people. Commentary by leading Soviet film scholars.

* Atomic age (CD-ROM format)

"Includes the atomic discoveries of leading scientists from Einstein to Oppenheimer, how nuclear weapons work, the first atomic bomb blast in the New Mexico desert, the Cold War, biographies, maps, timelines, and historical footage."

* Atomic cafe

'A hilarious, chilling, and sarcastic look at Cold War atom bomb hysteria composed of bits and pieces of propaganda films, newsreels, popular songs, and defense training films."


o DVD format. "20th anniversary edition

o VHS format

* Children of the Left : a story about family & politics in America (VHS format)

Follows the lives of five people whose parents were members of the American Communist party in the 1940s and 1950s.

* Chinatown files (DVD format)

Explores the legacy of McCarthyism on the Chinese American community.

* Communism and the Cold War (CAV format)

Created by ABC News InterActive.

* Cold War: CNN Perspectives Series (Web site)

Created for the 24 part CNN series.

* Day after Trinity : J. Robert Oppenheimer & the atomic bomb (DVD format.)

* East side story (DVD format)

A documentary of Soviet and Eastern bloc communist musical films. Comrades drive tractors, sweep factory floors, feed farm animals, harvest crops, all the while singing their hearts out about the joys of socialism. Included are interviews with people involved in the making of some of these movies, as well as a film historian and moviegoers.

* Eric Hobsbawm (VHS format)

A interview with British historian, Eric Hobsbawm. It covers such topics as: the Communist Party and the Cold War, labor history, popular culture and rebels, and Marxism.

* First 50 years : reflections on U.S.-Soviet relations

Documents fifty years (1934-1984) of U.S.-Soviet relations. Interviews with specialists in the field of Soviet-American affairs are interspersed with archival film footage and voice-over narration. Former diplomats describe their involvement in key events of the era. Includes comments by former President Richard Nixon. Examines sources of past conflicts and how they were resolved as a key to solving modern-day problems.

* From the barrel of a gun (VHS format)

Describes the revolution began by Asia's political leaders following WW II. Shows how the Pacific war, the cultural revolution in China and the Vietnam War stem from the roots of nationalism. The end of colonial dominance and the subsequent rise of nationalism and communism are told through the lives of Ho Chi Minh, The Vietnamese revolutionary, and Sukarno, the founding father of Indonesia.

* Great debate (CD-ROM format)

"A collection of photographs, graphics, video clips, and original essays concerning issues of debate in political and popular culture in the United States during the 1960s."

* Great leap, 1949 (VHS format)

A history of communism in China from the revolution in 1949 to the various reform and protest movements in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's.

* Great moments of the 20th century (CD-ROM format)

Contains "nearly 200 audio clips from the people and events that shaped history."

* Harvest of despair : the 1932-33 man-made famine in Ukraine (VHS format)

Documentary about the Ukrainian "terror famine" of 1932-33 which caused the deaths of 7 million people. Interviews with survivors and scholars supplemented by rare photographic evidence. A rare insight into one of the 20th century's least known but most vicious genocides.

* How I worked for Stalin, or, Songs of the oligarchs (VHS format)

Combines the testimony of eyewitnesses with rare archival photographs and film in an examination of the strong men who ran the Soviet state for Stalin. From Zhdanov, Andreyev, Krushchev, Malenkov and Suslov to Molotov, the documentary follows the bloody trail to Stalin's successor.

* I served in Stalin's guard, or, An experiment in documentary mythology (VHS format)

This interview with the last surviving personal bodyguard of Stalin's, intercut with rare documentary footage, gives some insight into Stalin's personality.

* Lumumba, la mort du prophète = Lumumba, the death of the prophet (VHS format)

Reexamines the independence struggle in the Belgian Congo and its leader, Patrice Lumumba. This multi-award-winning film recounts Lumumba's tragic 200 day rule culminating with his assassination. Combines archival documentary footage of Lumumba with the memories of journalists who reported from the Congo.

* New Russian revolution (VHS format)

CNN documentary on the failed coup and how it marked a new Russian revolution. Draws the viewer through the dramatic events as they unfold. From the hardline coup that imprisoned Gorbachev, to the role of Yeltsin, to the return of Gorbachev and the collapse of the Communist rule.

* October fury (DVD format)

Cuban Missile Crisis.

* People's century: ordinary people, extraordinary times (VHS format)

* Point of order

Army-McCarthy hearings.


o 1998 VHS edition.

o 1984 VHS edition.

* Red star rising, the dawn of the Gorbachev era (VHS format)

Produced by ABC News.

* War or peace? You decide! [electronic resource] : desicion-making in a nuclear age (Computer game)

Simulation of the decision-making process that takes place at the highest levels of national government under crisis conditions. A player can either assume the role of a member of the Defense Committee of the Soviet Politburo, or the U.S. President and his or her cabinet. There is no winner in this game and it is not scored.

* Wind of change : the end of colonialism in Africa (VHS format)

Feature Films

* 3 days of the Condor (VHS format)

CIA researcher is forced to go underground when a rival branch kills of the co-workers at his office.

* 1984 (VHS format)

* Biff Baker U. S. A.

A husband and wife work as spies under the guise of their import/export company during the Cold War era.


o Volume I. (DVD format)

o Volume 2 (VHS format)

* Doctor Strangelove : or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

Something goes terribly wrong with the nuclear balance of power: comedy.


o DVD format. "20th anniversary edition

o Videodisc

* Doctor Zhivago

A poet and surgeon, husband and lover finds his life disrupted by World War I and the Russian Revolution. It alters the lives of many, including Tonya, the gentle woman he marries and Lara, the woman he cannot forget.


o DVD format

o Videodisc format

* Est-Ouest = East/West (DVD format)

Follows the story of an expatriate Russian and his French wife as they return to the Soviet Union in 1946 and learn to live in the post-war Soviet Union. The story eventually revolves around the struggle of the wife to decide if she should stay or leave.

* Fail-safe (DVD format.)

Something goes terribly wrong with the nuclear balance of power: drama.

* Firefox

Clint Eastwood's high-flying thriller of a desperate plot to steal the top-secret Russian warplane code-named "Firefox."

* Guilty by suspicion

Based on the McCarthy witchhunts of the 1950's, this film tells the story of the destruction of the career of a director: all he has to do to revive his stalled career is testify against friends who are suspected of being Communists.

* Hunt for Red October

Mutiny on a Soviet nuclear sub threatens World War III.


o Videodisc formta

o VHS format


+ 1990 ed.

+ 1996 widescreen ed.

* Ice Station Zebra

An American nuclear sub.. a sky full of Russian paratroopers--and a race for the secret of Ice Station Zebra.


o DVD format.

o VHS format

* Innocent (VHS format)

A young engineer is sent to post-WWII Berlin to help the Americans in spying on the Russians. In a time and place where discretion is still a man's best friend, he falls in love with a mysterious woman who will take him on the dark side of evil.

* Invasion of the body snatchers (DVD format)

1956 version. Considered by many scholars to be an allegory of Cold War America.

* Jigsaw man (British BETA format)

Sir Philip Kimberly, former head of the British Secret Service, defected to the USSR leaving hidden in England a dossier detailing Russian agents in the West. After 40 years, the Soviets send him back to England to do one last job

* Journey (VHS format)

A young Russian boy and an American Jewish engineer meet in Leningrad during World War II and form a friendship that changes both their lives.

* Lumumba (VHS format)

Biopic of the Congolese revolutionary, Patrice Lumumba, who lead his country to independence from Belgium in 1960. He served, for less than a year, as the first elected prime minister until he was brutally assassinated.

In French with English subtitles.

* Manchurian candidate

A U.S. Army platoon, captured in the Korean conflict, is whisked to Manchuria for three nightmarish days of experimental drug-and-hypnosis- induced conditioning that transforms the men into human time bombs. Returned to the United States as war heroes, one of them is used by his mother to promote her Joseph McCarthy-like husband's political career.

Original Frank Sinatra version. Do not confuse with Denzell Washington version.

* On the beach (DVD format)

Radioactive fallout from a nuclear war has wiped out the entire northern hemisphere, with the exception of Australia. With fallout expected momentarily, the Australians review their lives, establish new relationships and prepare for their tragic demise.

* On the waterfront

Considered by some film historians to be Director Elia Kazan's allegorical defense of his cooperating with the House of Un-American Activities Committee.


o 12 inch capacitance electronic disc system format.

o Laserdisc extended play (CLV) format,

o VHS format.

* Pickup on South Street

Petty crook Skip McCoy has his eye set on the big score. When the three-time convict picks the pocketbook of unsuspecting Candy, he finds a haul bigger than he ever could have imagined: a strip of microfilm bearing confidential U.S. secrets. Tailed by the Feds and the unwitting courier's Communist puppeteers, Skip and Candy find themselves in a precarious gambit that pits greed against redemption.

* Rambo : the complete collector's set (DVD format0

Contains all four Rambo motion pictures:

First blood (1982)

Rambo, First blood part II (1985)

Rambo III (1988)

Rambo (2008)

* Red heat (VHS format)

A Soviet detective tracks a deadly Russian drug smuggler to Chicago where he's teamed up with a fearless but undisciplined Chicago cop.

* Russia house

An Englishman and a Russian woman are caught up in a world of spies and politics and a love affair which could prove fatal to them both.

* Sacrifice (DVD format)

Swedish-Soviet co-production about redemption and the nuclear holocaust. When a middle aged intellectual in retirement on an island in the Baltic Seas witnesses signs of what he believes to be a nuclear holocaust, he offers to make the ultimate sacrifice in return for the salvation of mankind.

* Stalin (VHS format)

HBO biopic with Robert Duvall as Uncle Joe.

* Third man

Set in post-war Vienna, an American western-adventure writer searches for a friend who turns out to be the king-pin of the Austrian black market.


o DVD format.

Criterion Collection version which includes video introduction by Peter Bogdanovich; recording of script treatment; radio adaptations; alternative opening voice over; archival footage of set; photos and production history; theatrical trailers; restoration demonstration.

o VHS format.

* Topaz (VHS format)

Hitchcock's treatment of the Leon Uris novel: an American CIA agent enlists the help of a French agent to break up a Russian spy ring.


o 1983 ed.

o 1985 ed.

* Torn curtain (VHS format)

A Hitchcock action thriller behind the Iron Curtain.


o 1983 ed.

o 1984 ed.

* Ugly American (VHS format)

A compassionate American Ambassador to the strife-torn Southeast Asian nation of Sarkhan tries to keep Communists in the North from overrunning the weakened democracy in the South by making sure a vital road into the country's inaccessible interior goes through.

* Whistle blower

A war veteran tries to investigate the murder of his son who was working as a Russian translator for the British intelligence service during the Cold War. He meets a web of deception and paranoia that seems impenetrable.

Subject Guide

Sarah Klimek's picture
Sarah Klimek
U.S. History Librarian
(517) 884-7435
Michigan State University