RED ALERT (1977)
Article #1595 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-27-2005
Posting Date: 12-24-2005
Directed by William Hale
Featuring David Hayward, M. Emmet Walsh, William Devane
A leak at a nuclear power plant in Minnesota causes an unexpected explosion in the containment area which may cause a meltdown. Investigators are called in to solve the problem and look for evidence of sabotage.
This movie brought up two memories. One is of having seen bits and pieces of it when it first aired; I didn’t remember the story, but I did remember William Devane’s face, the containment set, and the presence of Ralph Waite who I remembered as the father on “The Waltons”. I also remembered asking my mother why she never went to the movies, and her telling me she didn’t need to, because any interesting movie would eventually spawn a TV-Movie knockoff, and she could just watch that instead. There may be some truth to that assertion, but I can’t help but notice that this movie predated THE CHINA SYNDROME by two years. This one doesn’t have the impact of that one, but it didn’t have the fortuitous timing of that one, either. On the plus side, the story is interesting and moves at a good clip, and it does hold the attention throughout its running time. On the minus side, the acting is variable (there’s way too much yelling) and the climax itself is handled a little too sluggishly. I also wonder about the attitude towards computers in movies like this; though it is obvious at one point that the computer is malfunctioning, nobody calls out programmers and technicians to look into the problem; they just stand around dumbly as if computers were supposed to be perfect and/or fix themselves. If this is how people thought they worked, no wonder they were portrayed as things to be feared. The movie also features Adrienne Barbeau in a negligee, which would go under the plus column for many of us.