Ladybug Ladybug (1963) Cold War Nuclear Missile Threat From Frank and Eleanor Perry

A nice quiet rural elementary school on the outskirts of the countryside was busy just having a normal day. At the back of the Principal’s sat a device. It featured four different alphabet codes. One had suddenly lit-up and started emitted a dreadful high-pitched tone. Soon the Principal is calmly trying to decipher the code. Three teachers look on. “What does the Y symbol mean Mr Calkins?” one asked as he skimmed through the manual. With a slight baffled break in his voice he calmly says “Nuclear missile attack in one hour!“.

Now this was the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The air raid warning alarm system had been fitted as a precautionary measure. They would have weekly drills to evacuate the building and decide the next course of action. This would require lining up in the playground alongside their assigned teacher and therefore return to class when the test threat was over. However, this time it seemed real. With no response from constant phone calls to verify the warning threat, the Principal had no other choice but to send the children home. Each teacher would walk their class across the countryside roads as they passed each pupils homestead.

Tagline – Powerful! Fascinating! Startling! A Shocker!

Time was ticking. How much time had passed already? Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? Mrs Andrews (Nancy Marchand) the math teacher had wore the wrong shoes today. She was in heels and her feet where gonna hurt. It didn’t matter. She was broken. You could see on her face the realisation that she and everyone around her was likely to be vaporised in forty odd minutes. She looked straight forward and marched on ahead with the ten or so children of varying ages following behind. They knew the threat. The constant drills and radio reports had embedded the terrifying thought of death by bombs and explosions. They chatted among themselves. Who’s had a bomb shelter? A cellar or a basement. Would the basement be deep enough to withstand the blast? Who was home to tell, to warn? As they passed by their homes they would run with their imagination running wild. Fear and adrenaline racing.

Back at the school the heavily pregnant secretary Betty (Kathryn Hays) wanders the art class in a daze of confusion. Her perfect dreams of starting a family was soon to be wiped from the earth in a flash. The thought of such destruction was inconceivable. Meanwhile the dinner-lady Mrs Maxton (Jane Connell) was tasked with filling water canisters with one of the young students left behind. Confused by all the jars of water, why, he inquisitively asked. Back in his office, Principal John tried to keep it together, constantly trying to get through on the phone. Surely someone should know something? The clock is ticking! If you were to look at your watch, now maybe twenty five minutes to destruction? What would you do?

This is a terrifying somber paced melodrama. You ponder the horrific situation with them. Each kid runs off to tell their family of the incoming bombs. Petrified out of their young minds. Wishing to save their loved ones. There’s been no announcement on the radio, every one is oblivious to possible destruction. The kids sing songs as they walk the path of the unknown. Mrs Andrews is at the end, she is beside herself. Imminent death is just moments away? Tick tick tick…

Ladybug Ladybug fly away home,
Your house is on fire,
Your children shall burn!

Imagine if that actual happened? Shocking as it might sound, it has, and on way to many occasions. Ladybug Ladybug is said to have been inspired by the real events in an article that had appeared in a magazine publication called McCall’s the year before the film. Astonishingly it’s horrifying to remember back to one that only happened very recently!

In 2018 the island of Hawaii was thrown into unnecessary pure terror when a text message was received by many warning of an immediate missile attack! WTF! For real! A false missile alert sent across the island by television and radio broadcasts to messages sent to directly to mobile phones. The alert advised residents to seek shelter, and concluded: “This is not a drill“. It wasn’t until thirty eight minutes later that the threat was deemed false! 38 minutes of blind panic.

What Ladybug Ladybug does so well is the portrayal of the stressful blind paranoia and psychological effects heightened by the constant threat of all out nuclear war of the Cold War. An unseen enemy always looming ready to start the destruction of the world. The young cast are fantastic with their innocent wide eyed imagination of the terror they are about to face. Writer and director couple Frank and Eleanor Perry really get the most out of their inexperienced cast which includes film debuts from William Daniels who will be know to millions as the voice of the electronic talking car KITT the buddy to David Hasselhoff in the TV cult classic Knight Rider. Also the actress playing the Math Teacher on the long walk is Nancy Marchand who would become Livia the mother to the one and only Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini).

Ladybug Ladybug has become the fourth film I’ve reviewed from the work of Frank and Eleanor Perry’s which included their debut film, the psychological drama, David and Lisa (1962) The holiday vacation drama Last Summer (1969) and best of all, in my honest opinion, The Swimmer (1968) with Burt Lancaster. There remains two I need to see before they parted ways from each other, Trilogy (1969) and Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970). The duo were so very talented together, that’s for sure.

Ladybug Ladybug is on YouTube here to stream at time of writing if you wanted to see it.

So remember to use the wise words of Bert the Turtle and DUCK and COVER as it will help save you when the nuclear blast hits!!!!! DOH!

All the best and happy viewing hehe.

Mikey

The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) I’ll Take Some Noir Virus Over The Real Deal!

Haha yes I’m still alive! What with all the crazy COVID-19 Coronavirus bubbling out of every orifice around the world it only seems apt to do a review about the Noir virus. I mean a virus within a Noir. Yes Smallpox gets the Film-Noir treatment and just check out that fantastically dramatic title, The Killer That Stalked New York!!! Continue reading

Seven Days to Noon (1950) How Far Would You Go To Save Mankind?

Seven Days to Noon (1950) Boulting brothers thriller movie poster

Standing nervously in the dark of a small cheap bed and breakfast. A haven for now. He knew he wouldn’t have the appetite for the breakfast and he certainly wouldn’t sleep a wink. He paced the room. The streetlights casting shadows across the room. Dreadful images constantly twisted in his mind. Thoughts of what he planned to do consumed his soul. He wasn’t a bad man but he knew his name would go down in the history books as an evil harbinger of death! Continue reading

Millennium (1989) Kris Kristofferson & The Cyberpunk Charlie’s Angel

millennium (1989) movie poster we've been expecting you sci-fi time travel

Ex trucker Kris Kristofferson reminisces back to his old rig with a joyful smile. They were the days, stuck in a convoy traveling down the highway. Sat up high, blasting his horn and chatting to friends, Spider Mike and Widow Woman on his CB radio. Six years working on this new job as the chief investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board had taken its toll on poor Kris. Depressed, tired and desperate to get out, he’d promised himself a vacation. Maybe even quit all together. Continue reading

Phase IV (1974) Saul Bass Intelligent Killer Ant Attack

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What better film to follow up Them on a double bill than with another bunch of crazed, demented six legged psychopathic ant nut jobs, the 1974 film Phase IV. This feature is filled with visually luscious images and gorgeous landscape design, it’s quite the wonder to look at. But please be forewarned that you spend the runtime scratching like a shaggy dog. Oh my fur was twitching and an itching like crazy right through this creepy crawly movie. Even the eerie music gets under the skin. Essential item to have with you whilst watching is a personal back scratcher or two, down a bit, ooo to left a bit ooo that’s it, that’s the spot. A big thanks goes out to Lieutenant’s Nina Barry and Gay Ellis from UFO in helping me with my itching, you did a grand job…. Continue reading

The Night My Number Came Up (1955) Dreams, Omens & Final Destination

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Opening with that distinct, recognisable voice of Paddington BearCommander Lindsay (Michael Hordern) worriedly confronts an air traffic control officer with news that a Dakota airplane has crashed landed at a certain point over Japan.  The control room officer is convinced that no distress warnings have come in or the fact that the Dakota isn’t even on that flight path. “How do you know this?” he asks, “I can’t say but if I did you wouldn’t believe me but please believe me I know something has happened!” replies the Commander. Continue reading

Night of the Comet (1984) Usherette, Cheerleader & Commander Chakotay Fight The Cannibal Zombies

Night Of The Comet (1984) comedy horror zombie end of the world film

1984 was the year at school we read the John Wyndham novel called The Day Of The Triffids for English. You would of hoped it would be part of all educational learning, to be a forewarning at least for when a breathtaking and magnificent light show of comets appear in the sky. To be taught the first thing you do is bandage your eyes and hide in a windowless room. No matter how mind-blowing and eye-poppingly wonderous the visual light show is, The Triffids pre-warned us, it’s gonna get real bad, real quick! Continue reading

The Satan Bug (1965) Viruses Of Mass Destruction

The Satan Bug (1965) movie poster excellent artwork filmHead of security Agent Reagan (John Anderson) knows something ain’t just right, he can feel it in his bones. He’s suspicious by nature, the perfect man for the job. Giving everyone who enters the compound the lazy eye, like a wise old Eaglehawk searching down his prey. He can almost sense there’s been a security breach, then again it could be he’s imagining things….. Continue reading