In the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War, Pepperdine College sponsored a four-part, Hollywood-produced film series titled Crisis for Americans. Utilizing newsreel footage and scripted narration, each film sought to expose the threat of Soviet-based communism to capitalism and free societies around the globe. In turn, the films describe how communism preys on susceptible youth (Communist Accent on Youth, 1961), spreads through violent aggression (Communist Imperialism, 1962), and cloaks itself behind the discourse of “peaceful coexistence” (Communism and Coexistence, 1963). The fourth film, The Questions and the Answers (1965), argues for the necessity of congressional investigations that root out communist activities within the United States. Straddling the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, these films offer an excellent example of the anti-communist discourse typical of this critical moment in Cold War history.
William J. Teague, Vice President of Pepperdine College, spearheaded the Crisis for Americans film series, and appeared in three of the four films. Doyle T. Swain, Pepperdine’s director of business relations, was, like Teague, a staunch opponent of communism, and served as consultant on the films. Through the films, Pepperdine officials hoped to emphasize the important role of education in combating communist ideology and propaganda. The film series was the most far-reaching of Pepperdine’s greater efforts to fight communism, which included a weekly Speaker’s Bureau, the annual California Freedom Forum, and citizen education and teacher training programs. Pepperdine sold and distributed hundreds of copies of the films, which also appeared as television broadcasts across the nation. Although the original plan called for at least a dozen titles, Pepperdine officials felt satisfied with the series after the fourth film in 1965, and terminated the series due to growing concerns over costs.
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